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Allena A. for Bit Project

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Recruiting and On-boarding in a Student-Run Non-Profit Organization

Bit Project was founded by a group of students at UC Davis in the summer of 2019 with the goal of making STEM education more accessible to K-12 students and helping prepare undergraduate and graduate students to enter the tech industry through open source projects. Today, Bit Project has grown immensely and includes students from all over the world who are passionate about supporting our mission.

Thanks to our dedicated People Department, we are able to recruit the best of the best and onboard new members seamlessly. As a result, we have built a global non-profit organization run entirely by students who share the mission of helping other students learn.

Recruiting and onboarding at Bit Project in the past

Becca Tran, a management consultant at Bit Project, shared that bringing new members into Bit Project was a bit different in the earlier days of the organization. Tran applied after hearing about the organization from a professor and was interviewed for her role in person.

At the time, Bit Project was still recruiting only on campus at UC Davis. Because of this, the organization was limited to seasonal recruiting, usually at the beginning of the academic quarter when other on-campus clubs were recruiting for new members too.

But how has our recruitment and onboarding process changed since March 2020?

Adapting to unforeseen circumstances

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools and universities to transition to online learning, Bit Project made the decision to go remote as well. However, going remote presented a new and exciting opportunity for the organization. Rather than continue to recruit and onboard members from just one campus, Bit Project decided to start recruiting from multiple campuses across the country.

Now, the organization was resolved to dedicate more time and resources to recruiting students from a diverse set of backgrounds and perspectives. This also meant recruiting was now an ongoing process, as Bit Project members continuously looked for hardworking, passionate students to join.

Tran believes that recruiting from more campuses would be beneficial for everyone within the organization. “It was a good opportunity to expand Bit Project and diversify our candidates with different experiences and backgrounds,” she said. Today’s recruiting process for remote positions allows us to offer more students this unique opportunity to strengthen technical and professional skills to prepare them to enter the tech industry.

What is it like being a 100% student-run non-profit organization?

Bit Project is managed only by undergraduate and graduate students, and how we recruit and onboard students has evolved overtime. We are students — not seasoned professionals — so we learn as we go and adjust as we grow.

Even if we might lack in our own professional experience, this does not impede recruiting and onboarding at our organization. Bit Project is committed to learning new strategies for finding and onboarding members into our organization to improve our procedures. Also, we are very fortunate to have a professional mentor, Lily Gassner, who is Head of HR — Communications & Media Solutions at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Gassner gives us advice on the best practices used in the tech industry today for recruiting, onboarding, and development programs. Most importantly, Gassner's guidance helps us learn to think holistically about how our People Department's actions further our goals as an organization.

"These days when I am working with some of the team at Bit Project, I just see the quality continue to improve, and whenever I share feedback, it’s taken. People are willing to learn and willing to improve. With that, I really do believe there is a good future for the organization," Gassner said. Even though we are student-run, we are still able to make Bit Project's recruitment and onboarding as efficient and effective as possible.

Besides, being an organization made up of students has many perks. Since everyone here is a student, we have a welcoming, friendly community — no need to fear any sort of intimidating hierarchical organization here! Joining Bit Project allows students of all ages to network with others and learn from those who are more experienced. Our decision to go remote is also an amazing opportunity for students to get the chance to understand what’s acceptable when working within a digital environment — an experience that will greatly benefit them down the road.

Recruiting and onboarding at Bit Project now

Today, we have an entirely new recruitment process. Our amazing team of recruiters are on the lookout for talented students who we feel would be a great fit for our organization. Before receiving an offer to join, students will be invited to go through three rounds of interviews, so we can assess the skills and experiences they can bring to Bit Project. This process helps us find more qualified candidates: students who are invested in helping make a big social impact at Bit Project and who want to be part of our collaborative environment.

After students have successfully passed their interviews and are ready to officially join our organization, they will go through Bit Project's onboarding process on Eduflow. In the past, we used to have a one-size-fits-all onboarding course for all members. But after reviewing responses from our new team members, we realized that our method could use improvement to reach and recruit a more diverse talent base.

By using feedback to understand where we could improve, we decided to move towards a digital training playground. Members of our People Department have revamped our Eduflow courses for our onboarding process. Now, our onboarding courses are more concise, and they include feedback forms at the end of each course to ensure we are creating open channels of communication from all members. Most importantly, Bit Project's onboarding procedures will now be tailored specifically to onboarding individuals depending on their background. For example, if someone has great technical skills but is not comfortable with public speaking, our training will allow them to practice those skills in addition to improving other skills they already have. For others who lack the technical skills, we are dedicated to helping them learn too.

Because we are student organization, we are well aware that some incoming members might not have a lot of previous experience. We know students are looking to grow as professionals in their role at Bit Project which is why we want to guarantee they will get practice using basic programs popular in the tech industry, like Asana, Slack, GitHub, etc. during onboarding. This process is designed to be supportive, helping our members succeed not only in our organization, but in their careers later on.

Looking forward to the future

By strengthening our recruiting and onboarding processes, Bit Project looks forward to increasing the diversity of our organization and bringing in students of all backgrounds from all over the globe. To ensure we are extending these opportunities to historically underrepresented students in the tech industry, we are dedicated to reaching out to and recruiting students of color who are interested in joining and supporting our mission.

By inviting students from these communities to join our organization, we hope to give them the chance to strengthen these important technical and professional skills while also bringing their unique perspectives and voices into the conversation around making STEM education accessible.

Altogether, how Bit Project recruits and onboards new members has evolved since its founding. Fortunately, the changes we have made have helped us further our mission and better support our students as we continue to learn about the best strategies for recruitment and onboarding procedures.

Regardless of your age, race, ethnicity, class, gender identity or expression, sexual identity, ability, size, nationality, culture, faith, or neurotype, we invite you to join Bit Project. If you're interested in our mission and work, don’t hesitate to apply here! We are always looking for passionate students to join our team.

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