I have just arrived home, left my luggage next to the door of my apartment and have to run to the desk in my small room in Zürich. Already I am longing to go back to London, a city I have come to love, where the contemporary and the nostalgic blend together, side by side, and where I had the luck to meet so many inspiring, amazing people, thanks to the Palantir Women in Technology Scholarship.
Palantir Women in Technology Scholarship
Still not a month ago, I got a call from the Palantir Office in London (affectionately referred to as Grey Havens) informing me that, out of over 1,000 applicants, I was one of the ten selected winners of the Palantir Women in Technology Scholarship. As great as it was unexpected, they asked me to come visit Grey Havens in London and meet the other 2017 finalists.
What is Palantir and why do they call their London headquarters “Grey Havens”? Palantir Technologies is a privately held software as a services (SaaS) company based in Palo Alto, California, which focuses on analyzing, integrating and visualizing data. A palantír (sometimes translated as “Seeing Stone,” but literally meaning “Farsighted” or “One that Sees from Afar”) is a magical artefact made by the elves from J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy universe. Hence, it makes a lot of sense that Palantir decided to call its European headquarters “Grey Haven’s,” an Elvish port city.
After waking up fresh and energetic, I left St. Martins Lane Hotel and walked down the streets of Soho towards Grey Havens. There, I received a warm welcome from our host, Adriele Parker, the Diversity Recruiting Programs Specialist at Palantir Technologies, and met the other women (a.k.a. superwomen) for the first time. Then, we had the chance to get to know each other a bit better over an amazing breakfast.
Spoiler alert: There will be a lot of me eating awesome food during the day!
Afterwards, we all had two 30 minute interviews to decide the amount (up to 10,000£) each of us will receive, followed by an exclusive office tour. Grey Havens is so cool! Forget about greyish cubicles where trained monkeys code and eat bananas – it is full color, with scooters, cute puppies, nap rooms and delicious snacks everywhere (no joking, ask them about the Palan-tire and you will see them exchange looks and smiles).
Next, we had a private demo of Palantir products and it was already lunchtime (food, food, food!). We then received very interesting career advice, took part in a CV-workshop and addressed some doubts about how working at Palantir is like in panel for-and-by women in tech. It sounds pretty intense but I had so much fun! And there was, of course, a tea break (it is Great Britain, after all) and a fantastic dinner at the end.
They also encouraged us a lot to apply for an internship or a job at Palantir, which is something I will definitely consider in the near future since I admire and share both the culture and the philosophy of the Palantirians.
It has definitely been one of the best days of my life, a decisive career kick and a wonderful opportunity to start a network of superwomen in tech who love coding just as much as I do. I will remember this wonderful weekend in London forever and how my brother and I were singing our hearts out at the foyer of the Apollo Victoria Theatre to the masterpiece of Wicked: “Defying Gravity”.
Learn to Code with Master21 and WST Zürich
Meeting the other scholarship winners and the Palantirians was such an awesome experience that I do not want it to end. Hence, I am more excited than ever to announce I will be one of the coaches at the event organized by Master21 and Women Shape Tech (WST) Zürich during the European Code Week.
If you always wanted to try coding but never did… this is your chance! Both women and men are welcome to sign up for the workshop and learn, hands-on, to use HTML and CSS. At the end of the evening, every participant will be the proud maker of a simple website they coded themselves.
UnGometVermell – Make Hospitalized Children Smile
UnGometVermell is a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds and awareness of social animation in hospitals. This project is very special to me – I have wanted to start it since I was a teenager but had to wait until today to build an interdisciplinary team of truly awesome people with a common mission: to turn hospitals into more human and friendly spaces, helping patients to fight loneliness and fear with smiles.
We are about to launch the campaign together with our new website, so very soon I will write a new blog post to tell you all about it and encourage you to donate. In the meantime, you can explore our landing site, follow us on social media and enjoy the fantastic illustrations of Jeenal Patel for the campaign booklet.