For the first time ever, college baseball fans experienced all six teams being seeded at regionals during the 1988 World Series. Of these teams, hailing from the West I Regional, came crowd-favorite Fresno State University. Fans poured in from around the country to Fresno to watch the hometown favorite square off against the University of Minnesota in the first round.
Among the fans watching avidly was high school senior Mike Watson. Watson was in the prime of his baseball years and told his father with certainty that he would attend Fresno State to play baseball. After meeting with coaches and proving his talent, Watson became a walk-on his freshman year.
But what Watson was not prepared for was another decision he would make his first year that would change the course of his life for the better.
Watson recalls his freshman move in vividly. Through moving his belongings into the dorm, a few familiar guys he knew from high school offered to help him. As they started to get to know each other better, Watson learned they were a part of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Something right away clicked for Watson, and he knew that he was embarking on a journey bigger than he could have ever imagined.
Shortly after joining the brotherhood, Watson increased his involvement by taking on the responsibility of High Sigma (Scholastic Chairman). Though his undergraduate career was filled with cherished memories, Watson sensed that his true calling had not yet presented itself.
“I always thought there would be a day in my career where I would be able to leverage the brotherhood,” said Watson. “When I look back on why I joined, maybe I was naive in thinking this day would have come sooner, but when I joined the organization, I didn’t join just for four years.”
“I really envisioned joining an organization that I was tied to for life, and I always hoped that I would be in a position where I would be able to give back.”
Watson entered Fresno State as a biology major but graduated as a criminology major with full plans to join either the FBI or the CIA. Watson’s goal had a catch, though: For the type of law enforcement he was interested in, he would have to return to school.
Following graduation, Watson found himself back home in the small town of Pleasanton, near the San Francisco Bay. Watson’s parents gave him a deal. If he wanted to stay and go back to school, he had to find a job in the meantime.
So, it was time for Watson to hit a local career fair and find opportunity. Right away, he was hired at Aerotek to become a recruiter. It soon dawned on Watson that he could be truly great at recruiting and talent management.
Watson soon found himself running global talent acquisition for a large cybersecurity company when he was tasked with making an incredible amount of hires. Where to even begin, he thought? Enter Eightfold.
From a cursory glance at Eightfold’s website, it might take a minute to connect the dots on what services the company provides. To Watson, the biggest looming question was how Eightfold could solve his very large problem of hiring for several thousand jobs.
After Watson became acquainted with what Eightfold could do, he was hooked. At its core, Eightfold is about serving the people and connecting employers who are searching for the perfect fit with the correct candidate. The company uses a very precise AI technology to map candidates against open positions, based on their skillset and what jobs they previously held.
It was safe to say that Watson was intrigued with the possibilities Eightfold could provide for a smarter and sleeker way of searching for the next career opportunity. Not long after, Watson joined Eightfold’s team in the Talent Transformation department. That moment to make his mark was finally here.
Watson was now part of this extremely new and visionary company, and he was loving every second of it. Eightfold has taken in over 2 billion profiles and can predict with good certainty what the next two jobs an individual will hold. All a user has to do is fill out a simple profile with their skill set, without the need for a resume, and let the algorithm perform its magic. It is, as Watson states, a better data set than competitor LinkedIn with a higher success rate of placing individuals in jobs for which their skills are specifically matched.
To help as many people as possible with this technology, Eightfold was planning on going public later this year and allowing more people to access all of the benefits of the company. With the massive devastation COVID-19 had on the job market and unemployment soaring, though, it was time to think fast.
Engineers were able to roll out the user interface in a mere two weeks so everyone would benefit from creating their profile during an uncertain time to secure their next position. Then a thought hit Watson like a bolt of lightning: Why not include schools, and more specifically, Greek Life, in this massive rollout of Eightfold’s services?
“Why not call on a fraternity,” mused Watson. “With Lambda Chi, we are at almost 200 schools; you sign up one fraternity, you now get the hook into about 200 schools across the country.”
Watson wasted no time in contacting Lambda Chi Office of Administration and has since created a new partnership that will allow members full access to Eightfold.
“I saw this as an opportunity to help not only the students (the graduating students and the undergraduate students) but really the alumni and the folks that are in a situation like myself where they have a family to support, and all of sudden they find themselves out of a job,” said Watson.
The hope is that Eightfold services will become another part of the member experience at not only a collegiate level but also at the alumni level as well. With Eightfold, it will become easier than ever to enter skills without a resume to be matched to potential employers. It can also show how skills rank against other similar candidates and even recommend courses for the gaps. From the employer side, it becomes a simple task of seeing which profiles match based on skills required for the job and sending a job offer, all from the same platform.
Watson cannot help but recognize how much Lambda Chi has affected his path in life and how closely the mission of Eightfold aligns with that of his beloved fraternity.
“Integrity counts, and your character counts,” said Watson. “We talk about enabling the right career for everyone, but we also have this tagline of ‘we use AI for good.’
“If someone isn’t successful, we look at it as we haven’t enabled them to be successful.”
As Eightfold moves forward and continues generating more interest and publicity, Watson is sure that this will become the future of job searching, a future that removes bias when hiring and the need for antiquated resumes.
Eightfold is currently looking into partnerships with the U.S. Government and the Indiana state government, aiding veterans in filling positions and working with Norway to assist mentally disabled citizens with finding the perfect career opportunity.
Looking back on his time at Fresno State, Watson laughs and says he did not imagine his life taking the turn it did, but he is thankful every day.
“If you would have asked me or anyone in the fraternity 25 years ago who is the least likely person to be in the Cross & Crescent, they would have told you Mike Watson,” joked Watson. “If there is any inspiration out of this, it’s to believe in yourself, believe in what you’re doing, don’t give up.”
The way Watson views it, Eightfold has allowed him to give back to humanity in incredible ways. By never associating a cost with Eightfold services, Watson and his team are helping as many as they can.
“Your impact might be 30 years from now, it might be 30 minutes from now,” said Watson. “You never know when your calling is going to come, your calling to help.”