Nina Qi’s four-month internship at Guaraná as a Lead Management and Project Onboarding intern went by in a whirlwind. It was an experience she will never forget. Going into it she was expecting to learn about the mobile app development field, sales and communicating with clients, but what she didn’t realize was that she would learn all that and much more, she said:
“At a startup everyone kind of wears a lot of different hats. You kind of fill in where you’re needed. You’re not always doing the same thing. That was super interesting. I got to help out on stuff not entirely sales related. I also got to work on my own little project which was really cool as well. In addition to learning about how sales work and how to communicate with clients, I learned a lot about how apps are developed, the most effective way to communicate with people whether it’s on email, the phone or in person. So a lot of takeaways from this internship.”
Nina loved working in a startup environment, according to her “it was the coolest thing.” In the past, she had done other internships with bigger corporations and they were much more structured. She felt that working for a startup made her feel productive with being given more responsibilities and adding value to the company.
However, realizing the extent of those responsibilities was unexpected for Nina, she said:
“Usually when you think of an internship, you think ‘okay when I do something, even if I make a mistake, it will be fine’. But at a startup, you understand the gravity of your actions and your tasks. If you forget to do something or if you mess up on something it’s not the end of the world, but it actually can affect the company. That was the most unexpected thing about it, that my actions had more weight than I thought. It was a good thing because then you’re more motivated to get everything done and do it correctly.”
It was definitely one of the more hands-on experiences she’s had working as an intern. She always felt comfortable pitching an idea that could benefit the company to a colleague, knowing they would listen and wouldn’t make her feel unintelligent for asking questions.
Even if she felt some of her ideas might not be amazing, she knew that her colleagues would help her shape them into something they could work with. The comfortable company atmosphere made it so that she never felt shy or intimidated talking to her superiors or asking for help, “Hierarchy isn’t enforced, you feel like everyone is just people.”
Upon coming into the internship, Nina had no experience with technical terminology and had little understanding as to the way apps are built, she said it was a “pretty steep learning curve”, especially talking to clients with a background in app development who would often put her on the spot. In the beginning, she wouldn’t know how to respond, but eventually, through doing a lot of research, reading and asking many questions, she got the hang of things.
At present, Nina is not sure where she wants to go after she graduates from university, but the most transferable skill she has learned during her internship has been to communicate with clients in a professional manner, she said, “It was definitely a learning experience knowing how to pitch a company and pitch an idea. Those were all great lessons.” She continued to learn how to be autonomous in her work, seek out projects and experiences for herself and to step outside her comfort zone.
On her last day of work she left with some great advice for future interns thinking of joining the company, she laughed and said, “take advantage of the free coffee and fruit.”
But with all jokes aside, she left Guaraná with a few words of wisdom:
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions, everyone is really friendly and don’t feel shy even though a lot of time people have a lot of work to do so they’re doing their own thing at their laptop. Like, if you want to start a conversation with someone they’re always open to it. Honestly, since we are such a small startup, we are in the middle of a bunch of company initiatives so if you ever see an area you think can be improved or if you’re ever really curious about learning a certain thing, just don’t be afraid to speak up about it and no one will shut you down offensively. Just put yourself out there.”
If you liked reading about Nina’s experience, check out our careers section for open internship positions.