During my more-than-20-year career as human resources leader, I have learned that a meaningful, impactful mission is one of the greatest offerings an organization can make to their prospective and current employees. I think of it as “purpose over perks,” and Shield AI offers more purpose to its workforce than any other company I’ve encountered.
Our CEO put it eloquently in a recent interview with TechCrunch: “When you work on AI pilots for defense, you are working on the most important and disruptive defense technology of the next thirty years — and are empowering our country and allies to advance security, stability, and peace.”
The younger generation entering the labor force is no exception to the adoption of this “purpose over perks” concept. They are particularly motivated by being part of a worthwhile mission, as opposed to the outdated desire to pack their resumes with tech giants. According to this report from Deloitte, 77% of the Generation Z workforce say that it is extremely important that the company they work for has values that align with their own. At Shield AI, we champion the idea that our mission — to protect service members and civilians with intelligent systems — is fortified by a strong set of company values:
- Do what honor dictates. This means doing the right thing even if it’s the hard thing.
- Live as a servant leader. We’re here to serve humanity; we’re here to serve our country; we’re here to serve each other.
- Pursue excellence. Understand the amount of grit and hard work required to be extraordinary at what you do.
This new generation of AI engineering talent is also more motivated by the excitement and potential risk that accompanies innovative tech than the reliability tech giants can promise. This growing divide in the tech industry seems to offer talent a couple options: 1) sit in relative comfort and stability at a “Big 5” tech company, or 2) find purpose in daily contribution to a mission that is important to you.
Our talent management plan is built on attracting engineering talent pursuing the latter option. Our AI pilot is the first and only of its kind and has been deployed in combat since 2018 but our engineers are leveraging this combat-proven AI and autonomy software — developed initially for an autonomous quadcopter — and applying it to larger classes of systems across the entire aviation spectrum. This is seriously impressive tech that supports an incredibly noble mission, thus checking all the boxes for up- and-coming engineering talent.
Summertime at a tech company is always an exciting season because of the opportunity to invite enthusiastic, motivated, curious interns into the fold. My team was encouraged to receive over 1,800 applicants for our 2022 internship cohort, of which we were able to hire less than 1%. This is a strong indicator that our offerings are appealing to the best and brightest talent across multiple engineering disciplines. It also sends the demand signal for us to expand our internship opportunities to optimize our pipeline-building efforts.
For the mission-driven, innovation-minded individual, Shield AI is the place to be. But don’t just take my word for it! Brett Fehr, a rising senior at Purdue University and one of our Summer 2022 interns, shared that the chance to intern on the mechanical engineering team at Shield AI represents a “best of both worlds” scenario.
“The engineering and design considerations for this technology are more complex than what I have seen elsewhere. This tech is designed to be efficient in a way I have never been able to design before, and engineering focus is more on best functionality compared to price, so things can be optimized faster and with an overall better result. It’s more than just this that appeals to me though. I know that for my internship and future career path, work will be more meaningful to me if I can associate it with a good cause. Shield AI is invested in protecting service members, and I can’t think of anything more worthwhile.”