When Anirudh “Ani” Pochiraju, 27, walks into the Truveta office, the “Cheers” theme song comes to mind as his team welcomes him to work.
“It’s like everybody knows your name,” he said. “I kind of felt like I’d walk in (and) I just felt like everyone knew me. Everyone loved me.”
The Irvine, California-native, who joined the Seattle start-up as part of its inaugural intern class last year, is now a full-time employee working as a software engineer. He’s not alone in feeling appreciated and comfortable with the Truveta team. But the reason to stay on goes deeper than office culture.
Of the 14 inaugural interns who joined the team of more than 100 employees, nearly half of them have stayed on afterward as full-time team members and three of them will return for a second summer internship this year. Another two interns from later groups also joined the Truveta team full time this year. They all have similar motivations for staying.
All the pros of start-up, big tech but driven by a mission
“Truveta is in a unique spot,” Ravi Sangani said. “It has the high-energy and high-reward future outlook of a start-up but the talent and leadership of a tech giant. For someone out of college like myself, there is no better environment. By having this unique combination, you effectively add up the pros of start-ups and tech giants, while mitigating the cons of both.”
Sangani, 21, grew up in the Seattle suburb of Renton and heard about Truveta from word-of-mouth. He was immediately sold on the young company.
Truveta’s vision, “saving lives with data,” is true to its operations: The company, in partnership with 20 health care systems around the United States, collects de-identified data to accelerate research, advance health equity and save lives.
In Sangani’s words, it’s a health informatics company working toward a goal that benefits humanity.
And as an inaugural intern who plans to join the team full-time in August, he wants to stay on because he likes being a part of something bigger than himself.
When considering an internship while studying electrical and computer engineering at the University of Washington, he knew he wouldn’t be as fulfilled working at a large tech company where he wasn’t sure he’d see the impact of his work.
The mission’s impact
Pochiraju, an MD candidate with a bachelor’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, had been pursuing medical school at Albany Medical College. After two years in the program, he took a break to earn his master’s in computer science at the University of Pennsylvania.
This background knowledge has come in handy during the last year as an intern and now as a full-time employee, but it also informs his opinion on the ultimate goals of the company.
“It just seems like this is the future of health care,” Pochiraju said. “That’s what really stuck out to me about Truveta’s vision as a whole.”
Using the COVID-19 pandemic as an example, he said never have the disparities of the nation’s health care system been more evident to the public.
“There’s got to be more we can do. There’s got to be something we could predict. There’s got to be another angle with which we can come at this with,” he said. “And that’s where Truveta really shines because it’s giving us another approach to a model that’s been in place for generations now. And I just think it’s so cool. It really feels like we’re on the cusp of something amazing.”
Baekjun “Jun” Kim, 26, too sees the possibilities of Truveta’s mission:
“It feels like I’m doing something more than just getting paid,” he said.
Kim, of South Korea, joined the Truveta team full-time this year after graduating from Rice University with a master’s in computer science in December 2021. He also double-majored in statistics and computer science from the University of Iowa where he earned his bachelor’s degree.
“I just like being here,” Kim said.
Empowering interns with trust
All the interns underwent many behavioral and technical interviews before joining the Truveta team as an intern. Each one of them spoke of their teams fondly, identifying mentors who took them under their wings.
“My manager is also my mentor,” Sangani said. “The most helpful thing that he’s done is really build up my confidence. He’s been instrumental in me developing that trust in myself. I can accomplish this.”
True of a start-up, there’s plenty of work to be done. And each intern was given the opportunity to jump in and hit the ground running.
Sangani and Pochiraju both spoke of working on several projects in parallel during their time as interns.
Sudheer Nadella, another intern who joined the Truveta team full time this year, expressed his gratitude for being able to work on “live projects” and gain a “huge exposure” to new technologies.
“I’m thankful to them for having that trust (in us),” Sangani said.
Why a start-up?
When walking into the office, Sangani said the employees’ energy is palpable and fosters camaraderie.
“They believe in what the company stands for. Being a start-up means that things move very quickly, and you have lots happening,” he said. “But it’s really the energy and excitement of working on a common goal of saving lives with data, and everyone has a small piece of that puzzle.”
The most shocking moment for Kim was when he realized the company’s structure is pretty flat in nature: There are only a few layers of management.
During an ice breaker to help the staff intermix with various members and other teams, Kim landed in a pod with Truveta CEO and former Microsoft executive Terry Myerson. He was stunned the CEO of a company would participate in something like this.
He had one question for Myerson: Why join Truveta when he could go to a big tech company?
Myerson’s answer — that he wanted to build something new that could contribute to society — further motivated Kim to contribute to something bigger than himself.
It’s an answer Truveta employees give time and time again.