The Commons Digest (11/2/2022)

The COmmons Insider Newsletter

This week's discussion...

From Industrial Engineering to Analytics & Insights at Instacart

Learning at The Commons

2022 cohorts are now closed. Join the waitlist to get front-line access to 2023 Sprints.

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Your Weekly Level Up

🔥 Hot topic: Planinng for regional expansion

✏️ Career Resource: #wins

✅ Community Reccos: Winter skiing

💭 Thought Starter: "Of Course Instant Groceries Don't Work"

💡 Brain Teaser: 🔆

🚀 Community Share: A pulse on pivots

From Industrial Engineering to Analytics & Insights Strategy at Instacart

Meet Jake - he studied engineering and dove into a structural engineering career path after graduation, working on cool projects like designing museums and sporting facilities. He recently joined The Commons Strategy + Operations Sprint and pivoted into Analytics & Insights at Instacart. Now, he's leveraging huge amounts of data to drive retailer growth.

Here's Jake's take on why engineers have a unique skillset to succeed in tech, and how he leveraged The Commons to land his role. Plus, a sneak peek into one of his projects at Instacart.

How has your background in engineering helped you be successful in tech?

My background in engineering has definitely helped me be successful so far! I’m automatically more comfortable with complex SQL queries and other technical concepts, and if there’s something intimidating that I don’t know, I’m not afraid to dive in. The top transferable skills from engineering would definitely be problem solving and analytical skills.

Any words of wisdom for people who are looking to make a career move?

I’d just say that if you’re not satisfied or feel like there’s more potential to unlock in your career then don’t hesitate. Expose yourself to different people/industries/jobs, and find a way to test out different careers (create your own experience). After that the transition mostly just comes down to self-determination and building a good story. The latter is critical – in order for people to understand why you’re making a non-traditional career transition, you need to be able to logically and convincingly explain the motives behind your aspirations. It sounds more obvious than it is and definitely took me a long time to understand and perfect. And if you can’t create that convincing story then you’re probably not headed in exactly the right direction :) [Editor's note: We put a huge +1 on all of Jake's advice - couldn't have said it better ourselves.]

Tell us about your job search experience.

The nature of my job search changed a lot after doing the Strategy & Operations Sprint at The Commons – I was able to leverage the #job-openings channel for leads, and also reached out to pretty much anyone in the community who had a role that interested me. I got a lot of help and feedback from mentors and others in the community, and as a result did a lot more self-reflection, rather than just mass applying. Being able to go through The Commons was a great stepping stone when sharing my resume, as it provided a cohesive ‘story’ and logical connection from my previous job as an engineer.

What did you get out of the Strategy & Operations Sprint with The Commons? Anything unexpected?

The main tangible skills I got were solid SQL experience and the ability to dissect business problems specific to tech. More unexpected were the relationships I built throughout the network – didn’t expect to meet so many great people willing to help!

How did the Strategy & Operations Sprint prepare you for interviews and your new role?

Both the SQL knowledge and the case/business analysis side of the Strategy & Operations Sprint were pretty instrumental. The SQL training served as a great foundation to do my own learning afterwards and also on the job. The case really prepared me for the different metrics and concepts tech companies use to analyze their business, and showed me some effective frameworks for solving the types of ambiguous business problems that I hadn’t been exposed to in engineering.

Tell us about your new(ish) role at Instacart!
What’s the role?

Senior Analyst on the Analytics & Insights team, within Business Development. We support the BD team in working with retailers on the Instacart platform by using data to derive actionable business insights for Instacart and/or retailers. I'm constantly learning new things and being put in positions to make an impact.

How’d you find the role? What prompted your interest in it?

It was posted in The Commons Slack! I had heard great things about the company, and the role seemed like a great fit for my skills and wants (in terms of being technical and data-focused, but still being in a business-focused position).

What was the interview process like?

6 rounds with a take-home case study. The whole thing took around 8 weeks. Everyone I met was super friendly and supportive during the process.

What should people who are thinking about joining The Commons know about it?

I’d say what you get out of it depends how much you put into it. And considering how much you can put into both a Sprint and the community, there’s so much you can get out of it – so don’t hesitate to join and dive right in.

What’s happening at The Commons

Upcoming events

📣 Bet on Canada Summit
Presented by our partners & friends, The Peak.

The Peak has brought together our country’s top business leaders, investors, and innovators for a one-day-only business event in the heart of Toronto.

You’ll hear from a powerhouse line-up of speakers that will explore the challenges and opportunities of building a business in Canada and spotlight strategies for how to navigate them.

November 8th | IRL Toronto
Open to all!
Register here (save 15% with code Commons15)

The Commons X The Peak IRL Social
We're co-hosting a social with The Peak, taking place after the Bet on Canada Summit. You can attend the Summit, the Social, or both!

If you're looking to make new connections across business & tech, this one's for you. We promise candid connections with ambitious professionals, because that's what we're all about.

Free to join us, with some drinks and food provided.

November 8th 5:30 - 9PM | IRL Toronto
Open to all, but limited spots!
Register here

Building Your Personal Brand
From diving into areas of interest and starting side hustles, to opening up new opportunities and connections, there are plenty of reasons to think about your personal brand, so we're brining in mentor Christian (Chief of Staff at Astranis) to provide a primer and Q&A on the topic.

November 10, 7-8PM ET
Community only
Register here

New Circles Topics!
Our Circle topics for November have dropped 🪂 Go upvote your favorites and even better, sign up to co-lead one!

ICYMI, Circles are small groups of community members with a common interest in a topic. They meet at a set cadence to explore that topic together.

Community only
Check it out here

Past events

ICYMI we recently hosted these events. Members, you can find relevant recordings on our platform.

  • Mentor Office Hours | Two of our mentors, Eileen (Business Development at Gigs | ex-Instacart) and Julie-Anne (Product Ops at DoorDash | ex-Ritual) shared about their career trajectories and candidly answered community Qs.
  • Product Toolkit Essentials | In any job, having the right tools can make all the difference and be a game changer when it comes to efficiency, organization and collaboration 🛠 Product management is no different. In this session, Mentor Saumil walked through the most important tools for any Product Manager.
  • Pitch Yourself | There was no better time or place to meet community members and level up by refining your answer to the age old question: "So tell me about yourself".

Application Alert: Early Bird Access for 2023!

Looking to join The Commons? Your way in is through a Sprint. We've officially closed applications for a while. We'll be re-opening seats at the end of November. Be sure to apply to join the waitlist - we'll be admitting based on the order of applications received.

Join the Waitlist 2023

We'll be kicking off the following Sprints in January 2023:

  • Strategy & Operations
  • Strategic Finance
  • Product
  • Revenue Growth


Learn more // Join the Waitlist


All 2022 Sprints are now closed!

Join the Waitlist

HOT TOPIC - Strategic Planning for Regional Expansion

Here are some thoughts from community members who have built expansion frameworks:

  • Start with users and a portion of TAM
  • Factor in competition and cultural attitudes towards your offering for growth size
  • Cohort regions based on expected/observed behavior (i.e. Up & Coming, High Competition, Legal Risk, etc.)
  • Estimate start-up costs for region so you can calculate a break-even point

Tip: if your audience is particularly depend on a factor - eg. age, income, access to smartphones - use data to scale down TAM.

Your weekly level up

A #wins roundup

Many community members have been landing new career opportunities. Below is a round up of just a handful. Pop into Slack to see the full list and to cheer on your fellow alum 🎉

  • Zander landed a new role as Senior Manager, Product Marketing at AudienceView, a company making software to help live events get discovered & attended 🏟
  • Beatrix made a pivot into tech with full-funnel commerce platform Stackline 🛍
  • Long-time mentor Nei is starting a new journey as Manager of Strategic Operations at Shields Health Solutions 🛡
  • Kaelyn landed a Strategy & Ops Senior Associate role on the Drive team at DoorDash, joining over 20+ members of The Commons 🚀
  • Marc started a new role as Senior Product Manager at Coinshift, which simplifies treasury management for crypto-native organizations
  • Akmal made the pivot from the world of M&A and landed a new Strategy Associate role at CleanTech company Niron Magnetics (after discovering the role in our very own #job-openings channel)
  • After a super cool 4 months of travelling across Canada & Europe, Eileen is starting a new role as Senior Business Development Manager at Gigs, the world's first telecom-as-a-service platform ☎️
  • Zachary started a sweet new role as BizOps Manager at Climate Club (h/t to Rachel for lending a hand on this one!)
  • Haley was promoted to Director of Strategy at Indigo 📚
  • Michael landed a new role at Diagram Ventures, as Chief of Staff to the COO. Diagram has built an impressive portfolio of top-tier startups
  • Nicole recently joined Strava as a Product Analyst on the growth team to help figure out what motivates people to stay active 🚲

Also a big congrats to many of our community members - Ally, Margaret, Rohan, Alexa, Stefan, Tony, Joseph, Sharon on a successful and exciting rebrand of Snapcommerce, now known as Super ⚡️

💚 Congrats to all on the career moves, new professional opportunities and promotions. It's so inspiring to see all that's accomplished by members of this community!

Winter Skiing ⛷

As many of you know, The Commons isn't all careers, all the time. The benefit of building genuine relationships is that you can dive into personal topics and gather advice both on and off the job.

Here's a recent thread in our #travel channel:

Question: "Has anyone gone somewhere for a winter ski trip that they loved? Trying to plan something for late dec/jan and would love some reccos!"

Community Recommendations:

  • I’m not a huge skier but I had a good time in Salt Lake City (there’s a lot of resorts to choose from and for different skill levels). - Aya
  • Salt Lake is great, would highly recommend Snowbird and Alta which are nearby. In Canada my fav mountain is Revelstoke by quite a bit! Also did Sunshine and Lake Louise near Banff last year and that was a blast. - Callen
  • Huge skier and I spent all winter last year wfh in Colorado, Tahoe and Park City. I’d probably recommend Salt Lake City for the easy access and low cost. Summit County in Colorado is great too with access to like 6 different resorts within an hour drive. Generally wouldn’t recommend December since the snow is rarely good that early, but it seems like this winter is going to be the best in years, so hopefully you should be good. - Nei

Have more suggestions? Add them to this thread.

"Of Course Instant Groceries Don't Work"

Coming at you with a community share from our #great-reads channel this afternoon ⬇️

Hop into this tread to take a read and join the discussion.Here's a link to the article.

Michelle’s mom has four children. Her first child is named April, her second child is named May and her third child is named June. What is the name of her fourth child

Check out the answer here.

A Pulse on Pivots

Our Slack community is super active with discussion threads, polls, members helping members and so much more. Here's one of the top posts recently.

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