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I’m Celine and I’m a student going into my second year at the University of Waterloo, majoring in Science and Business. This summer I took a role as a QA and Customer Success Intern at UpHabit, a Toronto based Personal CRM startup. Coming into this position, I had no prior experience (as in, this is literally my first job!) and needless to say, I was nervous. But over the last 4 months I learned more about myself and what it takes to work at a fast-paced startup. Every day at UpHabit is different in its own way, but I’ll try my best to explain what my experience interning at a tech startup is like.
Why I chose to do a summer internship
Being in a cooperative program at the University of Waterloo, I wanted to get insight and guidance before beginning my co-op stream with the school. In first year, you’re not taught anything about finding jobs and interviewing, therefore I decided I wanted to get a head start by working over the summer. I’ve always had an interest in startups, and when I saw a posting for an internship position at UpHabit, I was intrigued. I was fascinated by the product, as I’ve never come across a Personal CRM before and maintaining strong connections is very important to me. In addition to that, I’ve always wanted to work within the tech industry, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Once I sent in my resume, I received an email from TJ at UpHabit regarding the review of my application, and after 2 interviews I was lucky enough to land the position!
My first week on the job
In my first week at UpHabit I was able to settle into the company and learn more about my manager’s expectations and goals, as well as get a feel for the company culture. One of the first things I was surprised to learn is how flexible working at a startup can be. As this is my first job, I thought I would need to dress up in business attire every day and would be restricted to doing small tasks related to my position. In a traditional work setting, I would have to accurately design test cases for software applications and resolve user feedback, however being at a startup gave me the opportunity to try my hand at different things and learn from a group of experts. In my first week, I had meetings to get to know the different teams within the company (which I’ll explain further in my post) and get settled into my position. I was also introduced to the various tools the company uses such as the project management software, JIRA and the data platform, Segment.
My biggest lessons from the job
Learning how to work in teams is a big part of startup life and something I got to learn more about. In my role, I work alongside Akira, the QA & Customer Success Specialist, who has been an amazing mentor for my position and what’s to come in the future. I was also able to work with all the teams within UpHabit (like the designers and marketing), but what surprised me the most was how closely I’d work with the engineers. The engineers do a lot more work than just coding – and believe me coding is already hard on its own. Before UpHabit, I had no idea what a Frontend or Backend Engineer was, I thought they were the same thing! But all throughout my internship, I got to learn more about what engineering teams do, how they come together to finish a product, and how doing QA and testing the app is a critical step to releasing product updates. While being a customer success intern as well, I became more comfortable with knowing the product and talking to users 1 on 1, without needing to ask everyone around me if my response sounds alright. In addition to my hands-on work, UpHabit’s focus on constantly learning meant that I got to take part in webinars and LinkedIn Learning courses too. Those courses helped me on my journey to having confidence and growing in my role.
Interning at a tech startup is an amazing experience, as it allows you to grow in ways that you wouldn’t think are possible. From learning new tools and discovering the best meals my coworkers have had in Toronto, there is something new to learn every day. Working at UpHabit has given me guidance and insight on work ethic and how things can be in the real world. I was also able to learn more about myself and have a better understanding of what I want to do in the future.
If I could give one piece of advice to anyone looking to intern at a tech startup, it would be to research your position and about what it is like working in the environment, so you are prepared on your first day. I believe that understanding your company’s expectations and culture, are the key to success when coming into any position.
At UpHabit, I always feel like my work is appreciated and that everything I do contributes to our team and what’s to come for the product in the future. There is always space to learn not only within the area of my position but within the professional development field as well. I am very thankful to be on the UpHabit team, and can’t wait to take my experience and onboard my next journey!