My name is Joonha Shin, a co-op student from University of Waterloo, and I chose to work at a startup. Here’s why. Read more...
In January 2011, I tried starting a company with my classmate. Our university allowed us to do this as a co-op term, so it was a chance for us to do something risky but still receive some kind of a reward in the end. We had just four months to build something, then make it cool.
Over the next four months, we built a prototype that was still far from production. And even though we were learning a lot, we ran out of time and decided to put our project on hold. Our new plan was to graduate, find work, then bootstrap our company on the side.
I still had one more co-op term to complete before our graduation. I really wanted to work for a startup; someone else’s startup. I wanted to experience first-hand what to do, and what not to do when growing and managing a startup. After about seven interviews, I accepted an offer from Big Bang Technology for my final work term.
One Last Chance
Choosing the right place to work is not an easy task. There are so many options available and so many factors to consider. I knew I wanted to work for a startup, but I wasn’t sure what kind of startup I wanted to work for. I decided to figure it out as I went along.
I only applied to startups or small-sized companies. I saw my friends interviewing with Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Deloitte, and so on. Those are all great companies, don’t get me wrong, but they weren’t what I was looking for. I’ve worked for Siemens, Research In Motion, and CGI Group; all very big companies. I experienced about two years worth of the corporate scene and I wanted something different. I was craving for a smaller, fast-moving, young group of friendly and enthusiastic people. I only got interviews with companies none of my friends heard of. Big Bang Technology was one of them.
By the time I met Max and Cameron, I already had about five interviews under my belt, and they were starting to become a routine: listen to them talk about themselves for ten minutes, then answer questions regarding my resume, then answer few programming questions. Big Bang was different. The two had made a list on the whiteboard. They were conversation topics: some were about them and others were about me. They asked me to pick five topics and that would be the interview. I got caught off guard. When the interview was over, I realized they made an impression on me. They weren’t like others, they were memorable.
Even before the offers came, I was already leaning towards Big Bang Technology. And if there were more than just blogs on their website, I would have made my decision a lot quicker.
Each time a co-op term ended, I never felt satisfied with I had done and I knew that there was something better out there, waiting for me to try it. But I’m happy to say after six co-op terms, I’ve finally found a work place that I’m content with.
To my fellow co-op students, my advice to you is this: Don’t give up and don’t settle.