We’ve been hard at work designing and developing a new certification program for community member roles (like copilots and reviewers) over the last few months. With the majority of planning work behind us, we’ll be rolling out the infrastructure to support this new training and certification program over the next few months.
We love our global community, so much so that we want you to be part of our team, working alongside us to help crowdsourcing challenges go as smoothly as possible and yield amazing results. In order to do that, we need to select the right sherpas and give them the guidance and feedback to help them understand the advanced roles of copilots and reviewers across the various tracks. The goal of our certification program is to provide clear expectations of these roles and responsibilities for copilots and reviewers and ensure that those entrusted to these positions continue to maintain the high level of quality associated with Topcoder.
Our different tracks have different needs from copilots and reviewers, so we have custom tailored the roles within each track. Each certification is separate and distinct, and you should check the details for each role to see the specifics of the job as well as the description of the minimally qualified candidate. Currently, our program includes:
Design Spec Reviewer
Data Science Track:
Data Science Sprint Copilot
Data Science Marathon Copilot
Data Science Marathon Tester
In addition to these track-specific roles, we also have an additional advanced copilot role that requires the ability to provide a higher level of customer interaction. This role is only open to those who already have obtained at least one of the track-specific copilot certifications:
Each role has a set of minimum eligibility requirements that must be attained before applying for the role. Please make sure that you meet these requirements before completing an application for a given role. These requirements can be found on the individual role descriptions.
The application for each role gives you an opportunity to describe some of your qualifications and the way you would approach the role. You will be evaluated on both the content of your answers as well as your written English skills which will be required for clear communications with the community and our customers. It is expected that the application consists of responses written solely by you without review or input from others.
The application will be evaluated by Topcoder team members. In order for you to progress to to the next stage you must be a good fit for the role and there must be a need for us to take on another person into the position. In the case that you are found to be qualified but there is no need for further members in that role, we will wait until there is a need before moving you on to the next phase.
The review position is one that is earned by being a successful competitor. We are currently revising the eligibility rules and will update them here soon. If you qualify to be a reviewer, you will receive and email automatically inviting you to the review board. It is your choice at that point to accept. In order to remain on the review board, you must maintain your qualifications by continuing to compete.
Each role has a unique set of training materials, consisting of documents and videos created by Topcoder experts. As you move through this phase, pay close attention to which materials are required and which may be optional. It is your responsibility to complete these in a timely manner. Note that if you are a candidate for multiple roles, there may be some duplicate items across your training plans which you can skip if you have already completed them previously.
Most of the roles also have a written exam that is designed to help simulate the work you will do in the role before you have to do it in front of a customer. For copilots, these usually involve writing challenge specifications (or “specs”), estimating budget and timeline, and providing strategic feedback to the customer. For reviewers, these usually involve providing reviewer feedback based on sample work.
These exams are not designed to test your knowledge of obscure Topcoder policy details. They are not designed to trick you. They are designed to give you practice at a portion of what a big part of your job will be should you pass and be placed in the role. It is expected that the work submitted for these exams is completely and solely the work of you, the candidate, without influence or input from anyone else.
Only one roll, the Project Copilot, will require the member to have verbal communication with the customer. Because this job requirement is so specific, we will be requiring a short phone interview with the Project Copilot candidates to hear how they would respond to specific customer interactions. Excellent English speaking skills are a prerequisite for this role.
After completing all of the above, you will be ready to try out the role with an actual customer challenge in the community. At this point in the certification process, you will be assigned a Topcoder expert to evaluate you in action as you work with this customer challenge. This expert will evaluate you in various areas as they apply to your specific role, including:
Topcoder Standards & Processes
Communication & Professionalism
If you pass this evaluation you will officially be certified and can continue to work in this role on customer challenges. Congrats! If you put in a substantial effort but didn’t quite meet the standards, your expert may allow you to retry the observation run after providing you with some mentoring on how to improve.
Each role has specific metrics that we look at to make sure things are going smoothly for the members performing those specific roles. Usually, these are around delivery of materials on time, challenge fulfillment, and satisfaction survey results. If we start to notice a degradation in your performance you may be warned and possibly put on probation. Failure to make a positive change will result in the loss of your certification status.
As we grow the training program, we may add additional documents or modules that you will be required to complete in a timely manner in order to maintain your certification status. Failure to complete assigned modules will result in the loss of your certification status.
As a representative of the Topcoder brand, we expect you to lead by example within the community and maintain a positive and constructive relationship both with Topcoder employees as well as other members of the community. This applies to all interactions including (but not limited to): review feedback, customer interactions, forum posts, and emails. Failure to do so will result in the loss of your certification status.
All members filling these roles will need to be certified. As we roll out this program, we acknowledge that there will be a transitionary time and hope to move through the process of certifying our existing members quickly.
The process may be slightly adjusted at the discretion of the Topcoder certification program leads for existing members who have been performing well in their roles for while in the following ways:
Certain training modules may be deemed optional
Written exams may be replaced with looking at previous challenge work that applies to the same function