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No artificial ingredients added for Sierra Lutheran alum

Brian Underwood
Sidney Johnson (left) with other Hive co-op students.
Courtesy

Counting all the bees in this Hive might be more than Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh bargained for.

If only there was an app to somehow account for the over 1 million worker bees connected to Hive, the world’s first full-stack artificial intelligence company, heavily capitalized by PayPal founder Peter Thiel, they just might get back to Pooh Corner in time to chase all the clouds in the sky.

There is one local worker bee at Hive who might just be the one to launch it alongside other projects she’s working on. And if she does, she might just become the queen bee of this Hive, or one of her own.

Sidney Johnson, 20, of Carson City is working at Hive’s U.S. headquarters in San Francisco as a client delivery analyst through an original co-op program offered by the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, where she is a junior.

The co-op program at the University of Waterloo is a two-year career experience program that is integrated into a student’s graduation plan. Students interview for positions as any other applicant, and upon landing a position, they spend the equivalent of two years in paid positions in their chosen field, earning anywhere from $42,000 and $90,000 in the process.

With over 7,000 employers in its network, Waterloo offers the largest co-op program of any university in North America, with many of its students securing positions in New York and Silicon Valley.

“Most of the degrees require 3-5 co-ops (15-20 months of work experience) which are incredibly valuable for a future career, but it is also a way to graduate university with a comfortable financial cushion,” Johnson said recently in the midst of a hectic work day.

“The student culture is also very competitive which creates a standard of excellence around the school.”

“There is also a huge startup presence on campus with a lot of graduates actually starting their companies while they’re still in school. Waterloo also has lots of connections to Silicon Valley, and lots of alumni live there. It’s widely known as the “MIT of the North.”

The process of applying for a co-op places undergraduates in actual situations to prepare for and go through interviews. Johnson’s experience was especially rigorous, and remarkably rewarding.

“(I) had to apply through Waterloo’s database,” Johnson continued about the process. “There were about 400 applicants for my position. Only 24 get selected for interviews. Once interviews are over, there is a ranking done for the top 12 applicants. The lower the ranking, the more a company wants you.”

“After an interview, I learned a bit later that Hive ranked me as No. 1. This was also my first internship, and it’s incredibly rare for a student’s first internship to be located in SF. My academic adviser had only seen two other students get a job in SF for their first internship.”

The Honors Economics major, with a double-minor in management studies and entrepreneurship, who graduated from Sierra Lutheran High School in 2017, worked this past fall on the sales side as a sales development representative, where she was responsible for communicating with clients, organizing sales meetings, and contemplating AI use cases.

“I’m now responsible for ensuring client jobs are running smoothly,” Johnson explained of her current position as a client delivery analyst, “by managing timelines, identifying points of challenges, and addressing and updating projects accordingly.”

Working alongside co-workers from other top-tier universities such as USC, MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and Cornell, the Sierra Lutheran grad is not only experiencing high-level collaboration with some of the top minds in the artificial intelligence sector, she is also at the epicenter of ground-breaking application in the field.

“Hive has a workforce of 1,000,000+ and they use that workforce to quickly scale up custom models,” Johnson said. “They are able to create custom AI-solutions relatively cheaply and quickly. They are also the industry’s first full-stack AI Platform, offering solutions from data labeling to model development, to application development.”

In a relatively short period of time, Johnson has made a name for herself at Hive, with a piece of her analytical work actually landing on the president’s desk.

“While I was on the sales side, I had completed a project with another sales team, selling the same product,” Johnson said. “My research document was given to Hive’s president. It proved to me that my work was valuable.”

“I also had a very successful sales team (at one point). We picked up a new vertical (a vertical is basically a narrow market with specific needs) and had cutting-edge use cases and lots of interest from influencer marketing companies.”

Johnson is, among other things, a visionary. It’s part of what defines who she is, and where she’s headed at 5G speed in the hyper competitive sector of artificial intelligence. But even she pauses at the irony of where she is and how they collided with her dreams.

“I had saved a photo to my phone on Oct. 18, 2014,” Johnson said. “The photo was taken in San Francisco, and it framed a street, and the street eventually ended at the Bay Bridge. I saved it because I had always loved visiting SF, and hoped I could live there one day.

“Fast forwarding to July of 2019, I had just received the offer to work in SF. I moved in late August and started work the following week. My first week, I was walking to work, and I thought nothing of the walk until I looked up and saw a familiar view of the Bay Bridge.

“I stopped walking, opened up my camera roll and compared the view I was seeing vs. the photo on my phone from 2014. It was the same exact view. It turns out I was working on the very street where that photo was taken. I couldn’t believe it, and still can’t. God really works in funny ways.”

Artificial intelligence, hardly.