The Faces Behind Palantir’s Early Talent Program

Meet our inspiring Hiring Managers

Editor’s note: Technical Recruiter Rachel Ohayon speaks with Hiring Managers to learn more about their career journeys and life at Palantir.

Are you eager to join Palantir’s Early Talent program? Our Early Talent program focuses on engineering hiring for new grad roles and internships. In this blog post, we shine a spotlight on the amazing individuals who oversee the hiring process and give you a glimpse into their lives at Palantir. Get to know these accomplished professionals as they share their personal journeys, highlighting the mentors and experiences that have shaped their careers at Palantir. Learn how they embraced growth opportunities, became involved in the interview process, and forged meaningful connections with colleagues.

Get ready to connect, learn, and feel empowered as you prepare to embark on your own transformative career at Palantir.

Matt Rauen — Hiring Manager for Software Engineers in NYC

What is one of the most rewarding parts of working on Palantir Foundry?

You have a lot of context on how the features you’re building are being used by our customers. That, combined with how quickly the changes you make roll out to production, creates a strong feedback loop that keeps me motivated. Some of the improvements that I was contributing directly enabled the COVID vaccine distribution tools that Palantir was building, which was incredibly rewarding. With all of that feedback though, you have to be really diligent about making sure you’re weighing the tradeoffs between short-term wins that enable important outcomes and the long-term direction that the product needs to go. It’s hard work, but very energizing.

What has kept you at Palantir since you joined in 2016?

It’s a mix of the work and the people. The work that Palantir is doing is so broad, and I have the space to dig into some really hard, interesting, compelling problems. The engineering culture also give a lot of freedom to engineers, which allows me to go really deep on these problems. The people at Palantir are also exceptional — really motivated, take their work seriously, and are invested in building the community that exists here. Everyone is doing the best they can and driving towards making things better, which in turn pushes me to be better.

What have you learned from mentors at Palantir?

One important lesson that I learned early on at Palantir is that I don’t need to be good at everything. It can be more productive to focus on developing your strengths, and then rely on your team to cover your gaps. My mentors at Palantir have helped me to identify where I’m most differentiated, and focus on growing and applying those skills. That mentality is something that I’ve carried forward into my role as a hiring manager, as I frequently find myself advocating for uneven candidates with big strengths, even if those come alongside some big weaknesses.

Danni Ovens — Hiring Manager for Commercial Forward Deployed Software Engineers & Technical Lead

What is the work culture like for women at Palantir?

Amongst other things, as the technical lead of a team of 20 people, I’ve never really felt like my gender has been a factor. In my own job search, Palantir was the first time that I had a female interviewer. That representation was so valuable and empowering, so I started interviewing as soon as I could. Now, hopefully, I do the same for other women!

What has been a highlight of your time at Palantir?

Sometimes in the London office, there’s a big group of us who do late night karaoke (I love music and singing). We get guitars, a keyboard, and other instruments and just jam out to any and all songs. There was one time where we went into the biggest conference room in the office and there were around 15 of us singing at the top of our lungs until late in the night (… morning*).

What is one of the most rewarding parts of working as a Commercial Forward Deployed Software Engineer?

Having a first-hand, tangible perspective on everything that I’m building. I love solving problems generally speaking, but being able to point to something and feel the feeling of, “Wow, I did that” — saved someone time, saved money, unlocked opportunities for people, whatever it may be — there’s an immediate sense of reward for the work you do (which is not something I thought would be part of my day job when studying software engineering).

Brian Kazian — Hiring Manager for Production Infrastructure Software Engineers

What is a memorable moment of yours at Palantir?

I have two to share. The first was an intern field day at the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, where we participated in ride-alongs, evasive driving maneuvers, and simulated crime scene investigations using Palantir Gotham. The second was a successful deployment of a complex cross-functional product between Palantir’s U.S. Government teams and Product Development. Despite its ambitious functionality and uptime requirements, it rolled out smoothly and continues to be used by thousands of users without major issues.

Why did you become a hiring manager?

It seemed like an interesting opportunity where I could leverage what I had learned as a People Lead into making informed hiring decisions. I hoped being a hiring manager would make me a stronger people lead and vice versa. Both allow me to calibrate on what makes someone a Palantirian, identify strengths and weakness in people, and understand what kinds of bets we can take on people. I find it very rewarding when people I hired start and flourish at Palantir.

What have you learned from having a mentor and being one?

It’s really important to utilize your mentor — don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your mentor has experience and is dedicated to assisting with your questions and providing guidance on a broader level, so take advantage of their experience. Through my times as a mentor, I learned to allocate space to reflect and develop my mentee’s growth by creating a plan and goals for their future. I set aside a weekly time slot to review the feedback I provide and put it into a broader context, allowing me to step in and help with progression goal setting.

Ciara Brown — Hiring Manager for Commercial Forward Deployed Software Engineers

Why did you want to become a Hiring Manager?

I knew that I really enjoyed interviewing — it gave me joy and is an interesting problem — trying to accurately identify what people are good at, where they might excel, how I can give them the best chance at showing their strengths. I felt like becoming a hiring manager was an extension of that. The responsibility of bringing new people into the company is really important. I wanted to add my voice to that as a woman and a woman of color in this role.

What’s one of the most rewarding parts of working as a Comm Delta?

Getting to do work that truly matters to me, knowing that I made a solution possible, is my favorite part of working at Palantir so far. I was lucky enough to work on wildfire prevention — a project that saved lives. I was extremely energized by contributing to a cause I care about deeply like protecting the environment and the people of Southern California. In other places, I felt like a drop in the bucket, but that is certainly not the case here. (Learn more about being a Commercial Delta here. )

What makes a candidate stand out to you?

Folks who don’t know the answer immediately, but are not daunted and put their energy towards figuring out how to solve the problem stand out to me. There is no one right way to interview for this role; there are many different combinations of strengths and weaknesses that our employees have. We don’t expect you to know everything, and inevitably you’ll come across something you don’t know. Your reaction in that situation is important — show us the way that you think!

Rodney Eng — Hiring Manager for Gotham Software Engineers

What is a memorable moment of yours at Palantir?

I joined a team that had this habit of building cardboard towns in the office. When we first opened up the NY office, this team flew out from California to build one there. They built a cardboard town and camped out in the office the entire first week to “christen” it. I was amused by it, but I decided to sleep in my bed that week instead.

What’s one of the most rewarding parts of working as a developer on Gotham?

It’s daunting, but every day, it’s rewarding to wake up, read the news headlines, and be able to draw a line to my own work. Ultimately, it is a job, but the work that I do on Gotham is also something that is part of society in a deeply meaningful way. Working on Gotham means very directly working on things that affect the war in Ukraine, which a lot of us are proud of.

Why did you want to become a hiring manager?

I’ve been at Palantir since 2011 and I’ve been pretty deeply invested in the culture here. I love to do stuff around the office — like hosting tea tasting and being around for mentorship. I want to make sure the workplace is somewhere you want to come to, and being a part of determining who joins the company is a huge part of that. I like being involved in finding the right culture fits and people who will view Palantir as a home.

Jason Lipowicz — Hiring Manager for Forward Deployed Software Engineers in London

What has kept you at Palantir?

I have never been bored during my time at Palantir as I have always been presented with new opportunities to learn, meet new people, and gain fresh experiences whenever I have grown too comfortable in a role or team. This continuous movement keeps my day to day work interesting, and knowing that I have the option to pivot to something new that excites me makes my experience even better. As long as this continues, I see myself staying at Palantir.

What is the most rewarding part of working as a UK Government Forward Deployed Software Engineer?

I strongly believe that the type of problems we’re solving are genuinely important to the country and to people’s lives. What is amazing about the government work we do is that we’re able to watch digital transformation as it unfolds. We’re often working with extremely old and legacy systems, and being able to see the firsthand impact of what Foundry is doing for the UK Government is why I love my role!

What have you learned from being a mentor?

I mentored an intern on my team and helped them choose a team for full-time employment. Although I initially shared my enthusiasm for my own team, I learned to consider their individual passions. My mentee ended up choosing a different path and moving to the U.S., and this experience taught me the importance of embracing an individual’s strengths and valuing their uniqueness as a mentor.

Milan Bharadwaj Hiring Manager for US Government Forward Deployed Software Engineers

What is the most rewarding part of working as a US Government Forward Deployed Software Engineer?

Definitely the outcomes that we enable. I know it sounds cliche, but Palantir software is ingrained in some of the most mission-critical, operational workflows across the US government — from the Army to the Department of Health and Human Services, and everything in between. That certainly comes with some downsides, like needing round-the-clock stability and scalability. But the upsides keep me energized everyday — knowing that people need the software we’re building — not for instant gratification or entertainment, but to run the institutions that safeguard our nation.

What keeps you at Palantir?

The blend of mission orientation, technical aptitude, and personality present in nearly every individual at this company is something truly unique. I always feel like there’s so much to learn from my peers, and I can genuinely say that I rarely ever have to work with someone that I find abrasive. I also love the culture of respect that we uphold — regardless of someone’s tenure or background, good ideas will be heard and valued.

What makes a candidate stand out to you?

A sincere alignment with Palantir workflows and culture. Technical skills can be learned, communication can be improved, but there is no substitute for motivation. On the flip side, nothing turns me off more than when a candidate disingenuously regurgitates what they think we want to hear. My biggest piece of advice to all prospective applicants would be to do your research on our technology, our workflows, and our ethos, and be real with yourself about whether this is the place for you.

Christopher Jeganathan — Hiring Manager for Software Engineers in London

How did you become interested in recruiting/being a Hiring Manager?

I have the opportunity to meet incredible people who are not at Palantir yet and provide them with a chance to join our team. The tech industry has historically faced challenges in managing diversity and I see the role as an opportunity to personally help address that. As a hiring manager, I get to meet people who may not be the exact shape of engineer we are used to seeing at Palantir and make a bet on them to succeed and bring a new perspective to our company.

What have you learned from being a mentor?

People have different ways of approaching a problem. Something that might work for me consistently might not be the best thing that works for my mentee. I’ve learned to sit back and observe how others navigate problems, so I can better support their growth and their path to success. I’m the type of person who likes to fill in the space in a conversation, but I’ve learned to value those who take the time to pause and absorb the broader context. These individuals often discover details that might be overlooked by those who are focused on moving quickly.

What is your most memorable moment at Palantir?

A few years ago, we had karaoke at one of our holiday parties. It was actually right before I transitioned from being a Delta to a Dev. I sang my heart out in front of EVERYONE. A few weeks later, when I joined my new team and was catching up with my new mentor, he mentioned that someone absolutely butchered “Roxanne” by The Police at the holiday party… and I was like, “Hey, that was me!”

We hope this article helped give you insight into the wonderful people who support Early Talent hiring at Palantir. We can’t wait to meet you.

The Faces Behind Palantir’s Early Talent Program was originally published in Palantir Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.