Heightened competition for talent in autonomous vehicle development has recruiters carefully crafting their pitches to potential employees.
Lesson No. 1: Compensation isn't everything.
"I don't think it's the compensation," said Julie Goldstein, a career adviser in Carnegie Mellon University's computer science department, working specifically with master's students. For the class of 2016, the average annual salary master's graduates reported was $110,293.
Instead, Goldstein said, "our students are very driven toward the right kind of work."
Self-driving vehicles offer an opportunity for the industry to sell mission-oriented computer science graduates on a "save the world" message.
General Motors revamped its recruiting strategy last year to pivot in this direction. Its new outreach program, "Made for More," emphasizes the carmaker's role as a problem solver in society.
"What if you could live in a greener world? What if we gave you more quality of life back? What if we could reduce the number of accidents?" said Bill Huffaker, GM's chief recruiter. "It's not just, "Come here and design a door handle.' It's the feeling that you're kind of on a mission to help this, to give birth to this new generation."
GM's campaign highlights another facet of recruitment strategy that may seem counterintuitive in today's startup driven conversation: emphasizing scale and product. Like many in computer science, Goldstein said Carnegie Mellon's graduates are attracted by the flexibility available at smaller companies.
"When you get into start-ups there might be the opportunity to cross fields," said Goldstein.
Gargantuan car companies have responded by pitching sprawling operations as a virtue.
"We're not a startup," said Kiersten Robinson, Ford's head of human resources for the Americas. "We're not high-risk. We're able to leverage the benefits of our experience and our scale."
Robinson said one aspect that hasn't changed is pushing a direct connection to cars. Ford will even take autonomous vehicle engineers to the test track to show them the product of the work they can do.
Robinson said: "The art of the possible in [the autonomous] space hasn't been exhausted, by any means."