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My University workterm at GigPark.com

Last week I finished my workterm at GigPark.com. I’m now going back to University in September, but first I wanted to reflect on how well the job went. Much the same way as I’ve done the last time. 8 months ago I left my review thinking:

right now I would jump at an opportunity to learn something brand new, over doing more of the same

GigPark was more of Ruby and Rails, but it didn’t even come close to doing anything of the same. This little Canadian startup is full of big ideas, and I got to contribute to the design process and to implement a lot of the features. It felt really good to have worked on a project that is publicly accessible, and has a userbase of people other than just your boss. I can now claim to have contributed to building a little piece of the world wide web.

Starbucks and other giftcards

At the start of the job, I’ve pointed out how much fun it was, and it remained so throughout the term largely due to the awesome people (aww, I didn’t make it into the contributors list) I worked with! Noah Godfrey (you need to get yourself a blog), Pema Hegan, and Paul Dowman made for a wonderful team. It would be difficult to match the fun, challenging, productive, rewarding, simply amazing environment that those guys created for me.

During the last day, I was taken out for lunch, and presented with a going-away gift of a bunch of giftcards. Starbucks (coffee), Cineplex (movies), Futureshop (tech gadgets), and LCBO (I am yet to blog about having a party). Not quite an iPhone (*hint* *hint*), but little gestures like this do wonders for students, as it’s definitely a show off point for when everybody exchanges workterm stories during the first days of classes.

If there’s something I’d like to see improved in the future for myself, it would have to be a nicer office location (something with a coffee shop across the street), and a faster commute route (that’s also closer to my girlfriend’s house). Every other job metric will be difficult to beat, as this was easily my best workterm yet. Thx guys!

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  1. Posted by Paul Dowman | August 29, 2007, 12:59 pm

    It was great having you with us Tony, you did a great job!!


    Reply to comment

  2. Posted by Noah Godfrey | August 29, 2007, 4:32 pm

    We miss you already, Tony. You were a fantastic member of the team and we look forward to working with you again in the future. Go rock Waterloo.

    Reply to comment

  3. Posted by Adrian Petrescu | August 29, 2007, 5:32 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed your work term, Tony! And judging by the comments so far, your work term enjoyed you too.

    But it’s odd that you would say you “can now claim to have contributed to building a little piece of the world wide web.” One would think you could have claimed that already ;)

    Reply to comment

  4. Posted by Tony | August 29, 2007, 6:44 pm

    Paul, Noah – thx guys! I’ll try to start publishing more often to the blog. It will be almost as if I’m there, just doing something completely different. Hmm…

    Adrian – excellent point! It’s just not Web 2.0 enough ;)

    Reply to comment

  5. Posted by Pema Hegan | August 29, 2007, 10:47 pm

    I’m really glad to hear you enjoyed your time with us Tony!! Good luck this year at Waterloo and hopefully we’ll see you very soon.

    PS – I’m drinking much less coffee now that you’re not in the office ;) . Hurry back!

    Reply to comment

  6. Posted by Tony | August 29, 2007, 11:37 pm

    heh, Pema – what you have to do is hide all of Paul’s tea. He tends to go for coffee as an alternative ;)

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  7. Posted by Paul Butler | August 30, 2007, 2:44 pm

    Sounds like a good time. I’m curious how you found out about the company, was it through the coop office, or did you know people who worked there, or what?

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  8. Posted by Tony | August 30, 2007, 3:26 pm

    GigPark has advertised the position in a number of places, including the University of Waterloo co-op system, their blog (if anyone wants to read up on my original job description), and a number of other places online.

    Reply to comment

  9. Posted by Paul Butler | August 30, 2007, 5:06 pm

    Thanks Tony. I have a follow-up question :P – did you feel you had much of an advantage in getting the job because you are in co-op?

    The reason I ask is that I wasn’t accepted into co-op, but I would like to get a job next summer that doesn’t involve selling french fries. I’m not looking to get a job at Google or Microsoft or IBM, but I would love to work for a small start-up; will they be hesitant to consider me if I am not in co-op?

    Reply to comment

  10. Posted by Tony | August 31, 2007, 12:05 am

    You’re better off asking those guys directly, but personally I feel that the answer would be a “no”.

    The position at GigPark was advertised on their blog, and they were looking for a “student”. It shouldn’t matter if the University gives you a checkmark credit for having worked or not. It does (at the very least should) make quite a difference that you are currently in school though.

    I also think it’s important to point out that some (especially larger) companies might prefer to deal through the established University connections, but that’s not for a fact. It’s a valid strategy to find out what companies are looking to hire students, from a friend in the co-op system, and then apply yourself as well.

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  11. Posted by Bashar | September 1, 2007, 3:59 am

    It’s nice and also hurts when I read about how successful summer internship is at your side. For us internship is just hanging out, copy/paste from internet. I once had internship 4 girls (I know ppl reading this already say lucky man!) but I was about to literally kick them out of office.

    I was told they are web developers. Then they said they are designers. I started giving them beginner Access tutorials, and when I asked about little research for web spiders they just stopped working for the next 4 weeks until they left!

    By the way, I would love to see more of what you were working on but the site is not returning anything :( . Just says Done and nothing comes! Is it me or my ISP?

    Reply to comment

  12. Posted by Tony | September 1, 2007, 11:51 am

    @Bashar – there’s a certain degree of luck involved with the company itself, and the students. I’ve heard of an Engineering student who was hired to fill out the comments for the existing code. Another was packing keywords into cardboard boxes. There’s a fair share of people (not just students) who waste time away on the internet, especially at the larger companies.

    I think that a combination of low expectations of the company from a “student” with a low motivation on the student’s part will result in what we’ve described above. On the other hand, an opportunity and a desire to do something remarkable, can easily result in a fantastic workterm for everybody involved.

    Also – I’ll email you about figuring out what’s happening with the website. It should be working.

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  13. Posted by Bashar | September 1, 2007, 12:46 pm

    It’s working now! Guess it was my PC or ISP :(

    Reply to comment

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