10 rising stars at self-driving companies like Waymo, Aurora, and Cruise share their best career advice

  • In January, Insider published a list of the autonomous-vehicle industry’s rising stars.
  • Insider asked those on the list for their advice on getting your career off to a fast start.
  • Their tips include focusing on your strengths, being kind, and asking questions.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Insider sought out the autonomous-vehicle industry’s leaders of tomorrow by collecting nominations for the brightest young stars working on automated-driving technology.

Those who made the final list have established themselves as key contributors to their companies early in their careers. Insider asked them what advice they would give to young professionals who want to get their careers off to a fast start.

Here’s what they said.

Derek Phillips, 24, Kodiak Robotics

Try to figure out what kind of company you’d like to work for, Phillips said. Finding a company that makes you excited to come to work every day is the most important step you can take to start your career on the right foot.

Hana Lodhi, 26, Waymo

Lodhi emphasized the importance of taking opportunities to learn early in your career. Be observant, open to criticism, and willing to ask questions, she said.

Himani Arora, 27, Nuro

Talk to colleagues you don’t normally work with, Arora said. Doing so can give you a better understanding of your company and stronger ideas about how you can contribute.

Read more: Meet 2021’s rising stars of self-driving vehicles, from companies like Waymo, Aurora, and Cruise

Jay Kuvelker, 28, Kodiak Robotics

Use the job-interview process as an opportunity to learn about the company you’ve applied to work for, Kuvelker said. 

Once you’ve landed a job, look for mentors and be proactive in seeking projects you can work on after completing the work you’re assigned, he added.

Melinda Kothbauer, 25, May Mobility

Kothbauer said one of her priorities at the beginning of her career was to find a company that would allow her to develop a broad understanding of the product it was developing, instead of forcing her to focus on a narrow set of tasks. Gaining that kind of big-picture knowledge will help you discover what you like and what you’re good at, she said.

Qian Chu, 27, TuSimple

Develop a first-principles approach to solving problems, Chu said. First-principles thinking means trying to determine the best way to complete a task, even if that means ignoring conventional wisdom.

Read more: REVEALED: How much Waymo, Cruise, and Zoox employees make, from engineers to managers

Sarah Tang, 30, Nuro

Be kind, Tang said. If you look for ways to help your coworkers, you can build a strong professional network.

Shir Yehoshua, 29, Waymo

Find work that you enjoy and that plays to your strengths, Yehoshua said. Don’t spend too much time trying to master things you’re not good at.

Luna Yang, 28, Aurora Innovation

When working on a project, ask questions about why certain tools or methods will or won’t be effective, Yang said in an email. It may slow you down in the short term, but it will make you better at your job in the long run.

Andrey Rykov, 28, Yandex

Find a balance between learning things and doing things, Rykov said in an email. It’s important to keep up on the lastest news in your industry, but don’t spend too much time on research that isn’t related to the work you’re doing today.

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