Working in the tech industry was not where I pictured myself this summer. I had never even thought that working for a start-up would be a career possibility for me. However, after working for Helly Hansen in my first co-op term, I knew that I wanted to try something different that would show me a different side of the marketing sector.
When I saw the posting for FI.SPAN, a financial technology company, AND a start-up, I couldn’t resist applying. FI.SPAN is a services management platform that allows banks to rapidly deploy new business banking products. Working with FinTechs and Banks, FI.SPAN was developing a product that was already making waves in the FinTech (Financial Technology) industry. The initial posting was for a Marketing position, but in the interview, when I told the interviewers that I was also interested in Human Resources, they liked the idea of having a co-op student working in both departments. Not only would it be beneficial to have a dual resource in the organization, but it would also be a great opportunity for me to experience working in the Human Resources department in addition to the Marketing department, as I had never done so before.
A big part of me was really drawn to the start-up aspect of the company because I knew there would be a lot of room to try new things and have more responsibilities. I had always worked for big companies, and the thought of working for a team of no more than 15 people was new and exciting.
One of the things I was quite nervous about when I first started was understanding FI.SPAN’s main product which, by curating 3rd party FinTech solutions and allowing Financial Institutions to rapidly innovate, reduced time-to-value for new product innovations and maintained control of customer data as well as client relationship. Having not heard of any of these technical definitions and coming from a non-technical background made it a lot harder for me to understand the ins and outs of the software, especially as the development team would explain the technology using software and markup language.
Even though it was hard at first to gain the fundamental knowledge of the company's products, with help from my managers, other members of the team, and my fellow co-op colleagues, I was able to gain an elementary understanding of the technical services FI.SPAN provides which helped me do my work easily. The team was motivating and extremely encouraging when it came to understanding what FI.SPAN wanted to do for consumers. However, as I was working in the Marketing and HR departments, it was not crucial to my work to be able to fully explain each of the services. Hiving a good understanding of the basic concepts was sufficient for me to work on tasks that were directly related to the products.
Further, the workplace atmosphere and the opportunities that were given to me were amazing. Because of the start-up aspect, there was always so much to be done and my managers gave me a lot of freedom in how I approached assignments. For example, one project that was rather important was to revamp the website, and I was given the opportunity and freedom to work on this and find new ways to promote and display the product. I had to come up with several different ideas that would benefit the company. That was something that I had never experienced, but truly enjoyed.
The space, the atmosphere, and the support, were all crucial elements for my success at FI.SPAN which proved to be an incredible employer. While my days were busy and my mind was always occupied, I nevertheless, always had a smile on my face. There was room to explore different approaches to projects, and I was encouraged to suggest what I thought was the best approach as long as I could explain my reasoning. From building the website and sourcing social media competitions and awards to gain a better target market and expand our brand, the company gave me numerous opportunities to grow and explore different methods of marketing. This was an extremely beneficial way for me to learn and to work hard.
Working at FI.SPAN over the summer gave me an opportunity to witness many milestones for the organization in just a few short months. From FI.SPAN’s one-year anniversary, to signing their first customer, I saw the company grow into a successful business that will no doubt continue to make waves in the FinTech industry.
After four months of working for a new start-up in an industry that I was not particularly familiar with, I have a lot of takeaways. I can certainly admire and appreciate the dedication and hard work of employees when working for a start-up, particularly in the FinTech sector where things move incredibly fast.
I have also learned the fundamentals of starting a business, marketing your product, signing customers, and keeping your employees happy while differentiating yourself from competitors. Further, I’ve gained a tremendous amount of knowledge in the FinTech sector, for instance how to brand your name across many different platforms, and how to maintain a successful business while encouraging your employees to be the best that they can be.
To conclude, if you’re looking for a co-op where you are continuously learning, growing and experiencing in a supportive environment, FI.SPAN is the perfect opportunity to discover more about yourself, your future aspirations and about the foundations of creating a business of your own.