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Airbnb is running its own internal university to teach data science

Interestingly, Airbnb says it tried four times to build and scale a data science education program. Jeff Feng, product manager on the analytics and experimentation team, told me in an interview that there were three best-practices that really enabled this iteration to work:

  • Designing an accessible curriculum for everyone
  • Working with leadership across the company to set data literacy expectations
  • Finding ways to measure success

Very cool. Corporate education programs have been around for ages and can be a significant source of competitive advantage, and it is fascinating to hear how newer companies are managing to put (and keep) these programs in place.

For perhaps a lesser known example of an observation spurring an internal development program, check out this bio of NASA’s Pearl Young.

By 1929, Young had noted that the young, inexperienced engineers at Langley had poor technical writing capabilities; and that a system was required to help teach them the mechanics of writing, as well as to establish procedures that would improve the quality of publications coming from the laboratory. Reid, who in 1926 had become Langley’s Engineer-in-Charge, responded by appointing her as Langley’s first Chief Technical Editor.