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Why I Came for the Conduent Hackathon and Stayed for a Career

By: Anand Sinha, Software Engineer

I first heard about Conduent in the summer of 2019, when I learned that the company was hosting a Blockchain Hackathon in Hyderabad, India. For a person who is extremely interested in blockchain technology, you don’t necessarily think too much about which company is hosting the hackathon on it — you just dive in! But as I looked deeper into the themes of the hackathon, it made me more interested in Conduent because I thought they must relate, at least in some ways, to the work the company is doing each day. I was happy to learn that my instincts were correct, and I quickly worked to assemble my team.

The big idea

The idea our team presented and pursued in the Conduent Blockchain Hackathon was about academic journal publishing. There is a clear need in the research industry for a new reputation ecosystem which can assure the credibility of the papers published and gain the trust of the people who will be referring such papers for their research.

Our proposed solution would allow reputation to be accrued by users by creating a reputation ecosystem that could aggregate and analyse the number of papers uploaded, their quality, number of citations the paper receives, number of reviews performed, number of decisions participated in and the final decision. The system aims at creating a Decentralized Autonomous Organization which encourages peer review and creates its own reputation ecosystem to provide an alternative to the current prestige system that dominates academic publishing with detrimental consequences. Information is stored on the Ethereum blockchain to allow version control of documents and remove redundancy to the information in the network.

Getting started

On the first day of the hackathon, our team woke up early — and then proceeded to the hackathon venue way too early in our excitement. Conduent was huge, and we went through security clearance and other processes. Next we got temporary ID cards, a great breakfast and a warm welcome from the entire Conduent team.  Through a series of insightful discussions, we learned more about Conduent’s business, its focus on blockchain and the expectations for the event. Most impressively, everyone in the office made it clear that we could reach out to them (to anyone, at any level) for help or with questions at any time.

As our project kicked off, we found it helpful that we were not alone. We received very useful advice from key Conduent blockchain experts which helped us make slight tweaks in our development strategy that would allow us to accomplish our goals. While we worked, we enjoyed amazing hospitality from Conduent with food and drinks but the most fun part was the coffee machine that would only serve us coffee if we tweeted with the event hashtag! Funnier part was Twitter got many new accounts opened that day.

Around the clock action

While the blockchain hackers worked around the clock, hours passed by quickly — and Conduent made the experience more fun and engaging with games available to break up the stress and chocolate… lots of chocolate to keep us going!

At midnight on day 2, we were well into our project development but coming across some questions and potential roadblocks. The Conduent team was right there to help us out—quickly whisking us away for a quick, 30-minute technical discussion where we talked through the pros and cons of the system using Ethereum protocol. All of the Conduent mentors were extremely knowledgeable on blockchain platforms and various use case applications. Best of all, the mentors stayed with us for the full 36-hour hackathon and it really gave us the sense that we were all in this together.  

Just as the sun was coming up, we were making final tweaks and cross-checking core functionalities. And then… our Android application crashed! That really put on the pressure because it was now 6am and our deadline for wrapping up development was looming at 8am. That’s when our most junior team member came to rescue — refactoring all the code and turning around a solution in just one hour.

The final push

We were required to submit the code and presentation of our project by 11am — and we somehow got it in about 90 seconds before the buzzer. After more than 24 hours in the trenches, it was definitely a relief to cross that finish line!

By 2pm., it was our turn to face the judges. After a good deal of back and forth and answering lots of questions by the judges, we found out that we’d been selected for inclusion in the “final six.” Our team was so excited that the judges had seen potential in our idea, and we reopened our laptops and prepared a presentation starting with an elevator pitch that we hoped would do some final convincing. We answered all the judges’ questions and felt great about what we’d accomplished. We didn’t receive first place, but we made it into the top three — a very exciting accomplishment for all of us.

What came next

The end of the Conduent hackathon was not the end of the journey for me. About a week after the event ended, one of the recruiters I met onsite called me and asked about my interest in applying for a full-time position. My answer was a resounding “yes” and from there, I submitted my resume and went through various rounds of interviews.

I was very attracted to working at Conduent because during the hackathon, I got to experience the company’s focus on its clients. However, it wasn’t until I actually joined (yes they made me an offer for Software Engineer!) that I realized just how focused the entire organization is on creating and delivering technology solutions that are business-changing for its customers. The Conduent platform leveraging Blockchain technology is truly one of a kind and the opportunities I’ve had here in just a few short months have helped me grow tremendously in my skills and experience.

It’s exciting to be part of an organization with such a great vision of serving their clients and customers with the cutting-edge technology. Conduent serves in all the areas you can think of from automotive to aerospace and defence, banking, healthcare, transportation, travel, technology … you name it and we can probably point to some very large and interesting clients who are transforming their business with the help of Conduent’s solution offerings. The clients include many Fortune 100 companies and over 500 government entities. It’s incredible to be part of Conduent’s Technology Innovation team where I know I can personally make a huge impact on our clients’ business over time.

Conduent is the first major job of my career — and it was also my first choice. Something just felt right when I walked through those doors, and I cannot wait to see what’s next for both me and Conduent as we continue the journey.

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