Interview with Will Kashdan of Square: Computational skills and humility go a long way

University of Delaware alum Will Kashdan is a software engineer at Square on the ecommerce team, writing code to help sellers build ecommerce stores. It’s a career path he knew he wanted to pursue since earning his Management Information Systems degree in 2015.

“I saw there was a shortage of software engineers and felt that shortage would continue as our world increasingly relies on software, web applications and mobile applications,” says Kashdan.

Presently, Kashdan is dealing with the ramifications of COVID-19. Square has easily adapted to becoming completely virtual, but Kashdan had a harder time adjusting to the lack of in-person communication.

“One of the biggest changes has been moving to an entirely remote workforce. My team has been 100 percent remote since mid-March,” he says. “While we are still productive and developing features for our customers, I do miss going into the office, seeing my co-workers in person, getting lunch with them and hearing what everyone is working on.”

Kashdan doesn’t go as far as to say that all tech jobs are safe in an unstable economy but notes there is an advantage when it comes to working remotely.

“You can have a tech job at a non-tech company and a non-tech job at a tech company. Both could be considered jobs in tech, but it really depends on the company and the industry,” he says. “For example, tech companies in the travel industry, like Priceline.com, Airbnb and Uber have seen a negative impact. Netflix on the other hand has seen a positive impact. With that said, people are using and relying on technology more than ever to get work done remotely, so on average tech jobs are more in demand during this pandemic than jobs that can only be done in person.”

Kashdan says that students on the tech job hunt should remember to list their computational skills on a resume and during an interview.

“Everyone uses technology on a daily basis, but not everyone knows how to use a computer to solve problems, automate tasks and build systems that can save time and money,” Kashdan says. “I do that by writing code, but it doesn’t have to necessarily be writing code. I’ve seen people implement processes using Google Forms and Google Sheets that can save hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars.”

Aside from measurable skills, a personal quality that Kashdan thinks college students and recent graduates should exemplify is humility.

“One of the most important skills I rarely hear people mention is humility. Many college students feel the need to show how much they know, but in reality, I think it is equally important for a new grad to be aware of how much they do not know,” he says. “A new grad should be able to admit when they don’t know something, be willing to make mistakes and learn from them.”

As an alum, Kashdan credits UD for allowing him to explore new areas outside of the routine curriculum. He was able to complete an internship, a project course and an independent study class that led him to his present career.

Kashdan also says that he’s presently interviewing candidates for positions at Square, proving that not all companies are experiencing a complete hiring freeze. He has some words of advice for students that are worried about their current job prospects.

“If you’re fearful, you should first know that you’re not alone. Everyone is fearful right now about what could happen with the unemployment rate rising so quickly and many people and organizations suffering,” he says. “There are many problems right now to solve, and many opportunities amidst this pandemic. For those looking to find their dream job, you may not get your perfect job right away. Take any opportunities that will get you closer. You just need to have patience.”

For more information about available careers with Square, visit careers.squareup.com.

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