My first week at Flashfood was a whirlwind- introductions to new faces, protocols, operations, platforms and projects, all packed into the first couple of days. I would soon come to learn that this was the norm at startups.

Having been greeted by a team of four - more modest than I had anticipated, and an office full of unpacked moving boxes, I was skeptical about the quality of the experience I’d gain over the next four months. Needless to say, my first impression was erroneous. The positive work environment fostered by Flashfood’s diverse team and the projects I had the opportunity to work on, made this term incomparable to any other work experience I’ve had, and allowed me to grow as a new member of the tech industry and gain more confidence in my own abilities.

The People & Environment

My positive experience began with the friendly, supportive and motivating Flashfood team. While I’d typically hesitate to ask my coworkers questions in fear of bothering them, the company’s welcoming work environment allowed me to feel comfortable asking for help not only with tasks I had been assigned, but also on personal projects I was working on outside of work and anything in between. By February, my questions ranged from “How can I improve the load time of this website?” to “Is anyone interested in a fro-yo run?” The support I received was not exclusive to my co-workers; it extended to my supervisors as well. While they took on the traditional role of assigning and reviewing tasks, they also acted as mentors by checking in to see how I was feeling about my role within the company, forwarding me information about opportunities and events that might interest me, and answering any questions I had about the tech industry. The relationships I was able to foster during this term played a significant role in my growth throughout my coop experience.

The Work

Before Flashfood I was sure that the tasks I’d be assigned as a co-op student would be menial; small things my co-workers couldn’t be bothered to do, mindless and uninteresting work, maybe even the occasional coffee run. Contrarily, I worked with the Head of Product & Design and CTO to deploy two projects - the Flashfood main website and help centre.

After having been assigned the tasks and provided with some direction, I was trusted with determining what I thought would be the best course of action, and implementing my ideas. I, then worked with my supervisors and various members of other teams to brainstorm ways to improve my solution. I appreciated working with a diverse team to gain a variety of opinions.

Even as I’m approaching the end of my internship, the level of positivity around the office still amazes me. From eating lunch together, to being greeted with a chorus of “good mornings” and ending the day with fist bumps, Flashfood continues to foster positivity, and ultimately encourages their co-op students to tackle new challenges and feel comfortable taking on high-responsibility tasks.

Aliya Rajwani is a first year Systems Design Engineering student at the University of Waterloo who did her first co-op term with Flashfood! Her portfolio can be viewed here