She won ‘The Pitch’ and an unexpected internship at a fast-growing startup
Editor’s Note: Rashi Tyagi is an international student from Delhi, India, who is working on her bachelor’s degree in computer science with a minor in mathematics at IUPUI. She learned about TechPoint’s talent programs and wanted to be a part of it. This is her story of how her involvement in “The Pitch” this summer landed her an unexpected internship at ShipSigma, a shipping solutions software startup. Learn more about The Pitch below.
I first learned about TechPoint’s impressive talent programs through colleagues at IUPUI and was especially intrigued with The Pitch. I was thrilled when I got my acceptance notice. Like many college students, I’m working two part-time jobs this summer to help with expenses, but I was able to work my other responsibilities around The Pitch work.
I didn’t know any of my seven teammates when we began, but I came to respect and admire each of them. During our orientation, all of The Pitch participants competed in a Pringle’s potato chip ring challenge that required us to form teams and create a free-standing circle using only the chips, no tape or glue allowed.
That activity helped me build a certain level of confidence and comfort with each of the team members. I believe that confidence came through because our coaches selected me as our team’s project manager.
Our team, “League of Our Own,” competed in the esports category. Our goal was to build an interactive platform for developing and organizing esports organizations or teams. We took about twice the usual amount of time to actually get to the work of designing our platform because we agreed that first, we needed to fully understand the challenges facing teams and coaches involved in esports. As part of that, we talked with Nate Thompson, executive director and founder of the Indiana Esports Network.
The Network hosts community-focused competitions that are open to participants of all Indiana schools and focus on fairness and inclusivity. We paid great attention to the challenges he cited:
- There is a lack of gender diversity in esports
- It’s hard for coaches to organize and register their teams
- There’s not enough encouragement toward/awareness of STEM benefits in most schools
- Combatting harassment.
We also made careful note of TechPoint’s outline of what a successful platform would include.
Our progress with the project was never linear. We had our setbacks. And, to be honest, it took us a lot of discussion, research, and constructive feedback from our coaches (ShipSigma Co-founder and CEO Chase Flashman and Graduate Assistant at the Ball State University Center for Information and Communication Sciences Evan Oyler) to build a product of which we could be proud. I think we won our category because of all of these things: we listened to what our client said he needed, followed the project outline and worked hard together as a team to create solutions that met those requirements.
Our coaches were key to our success, too. Chase and Evan both show a remarkable commitment to the project. They were always available for extra meetings or to provide feedback on our progress. Toward the end of the project, it was their motivation and belief that we were going to win that kept us all going.
Ultimately, we created a platform that solved each of the issues cited and are really proud of the finished product. The platform is interactive and links to the Network directly to address any harassment incidents.
Project managing was a new role for me, and I wanted to do my best. Our team’s strategy was to put in consistent work and make communication our strongest asset, which proved to be a solid decision.
When the results were announced, our Slack channel burst with excited messages. We were all extremely happy and thankful for this great opportunity. Through The Pitch, TechPoint gave us a platform to not only challenge ourselves but to build deep connections with our peer group and professionals in the industry. Our team would share in the $8,000 prize money for our platform we called ESpotlight. To receive validation for all of our hard work and our true team-focused approach was just amazing and wonderful.
The happiness I felt at that moment didn’t end for me because in addition to the win and the prize money, I was offered a fall internship with ShipSigma. I’m certain that happened because my project management role put me in a unique position to connect with both of my coaches on a better level.
The environment Chase created during our Pitch meetings was positive, motivating and inspiring in many ways, which is why I did not have to think twice before agreeing to continue to work with him. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to learn more and grow my career at ShipSigma.
On August 23, I will start as an intern in the data engineering department! I will work remotely and work my hours around my senior year classes and even potentially through grad school. At ShipSigma, I’ll help implement data acquisition strategies, develop and test pipelines and conduct data analysis and collection.
I will work directly under the company’s Chief Technology Officer, so the learning opportunity for me is enormous. It is fun to even think about it and I cannot wait to start working. Learning is an essential part of life, so I am definitely learning a lot of skills right now and aim to do the same in the future.
Winning The Pitch with my team helped me build meaningful connections, develop as a professional and learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur. It has been a pivotal point in my career, and I hope to carry forward the connections I am making here. The prize money is going to help a lot personally. For the first time since I’ve been at IUPUI, I’ll be able to pay my own way home in December, rather than having to rely on my parents’ generosity. So there have been many wonderful things that resulted from my participation in The Pitch. Thank you, TechPoint!
I said “Yes,” to TechPoint and discovered a new way to find tech talent. You should, too.
By Chase Flashman, Founder and CEO, ShipSigma
As a new member of the TechPoint organization, I quickly wanted to find a way to get involved and make an impact. So, I agreed to be a coach for their “The Pitch” competition. I had no idea what to expect going into it, but I surely didn’t expect to find a new employee or a tech talent resource.
Lucky for me, that’s exactly what happened. And the next time TechPoint asks me to do something, you can be sure I will be saying “Yes” to that too.
The Pitch gives university students who think they might be interested in a career in tech a chance to dive into the industry. Coaches from Indiana’s tech community help guide their Pitch team to develop a platform and solution for the presented problem. For me, that meant meeting Rashi Tyagi, Ramon Del Castillo, Kevin Chang, Slyvia Robertson, Xavier Dextra, Jake Chudy, and Darryl Hardy.
Rashi was the team’s project manager, and I was blown away by her dedication to the project and her ability to lead a team of people she’d only just met. She’s exactly the kind of person we need at ShipSigma, and I was quick to recruit her for a position on our Data Engineering team.
As an honors student at IUPUI, Rashi will surely have her pick of tech jobs when she’s ready to go to work full-time. For now, she’ll be working with ShipSigma as a part-time intern starting this month and I’m going to do everything I can to convince her to stay with us upon graduation.
I’m fortunate to get in on the ground floor of Rashi’s career, but she’s not the only kind of person who will be a great fit for us (and any other tech company in town.) We love to hire individuals who exude passion for what they do, like young people as they begin their careers and more experienced adults looking for an inspired change.
I’m a huge proponent of TechPoint’s effort to put a spotlight on people who have tech skills, abilities and experience but don’t have the college degree to go along with it. We prioritize hiring the right people for the job, not the right degree, and follow a skills-based hiring process. For us, this could mean knowledge of front- and back-end languages, experience testing & debugging software, and analytical thinking. We are open to apprenticeships and will continue our intern/Xtern program to get more people into our hiring funnel.
Everyone in the tech community here in Indiana and the rest of the world is fighting for talent. Anyone who doesn’t adopt a skills-based approach will, in my opinion, continue to struggle. Meanwhile, don’t even think about trying to snag my spot as a Pitch coach. I’ll be back next summer, TechPoint.
More About The Pitch
The Pitch is an experiential opportunity for university students who are interested in seeing if a future career in tech is right for them. Intended to fit in between personal projects and internships, it’s an “add-on” summer experience to foster the development of entrepreneurial-focused business and/or tech skills.