With Vancouver globally seen as one of the best cities to grow a start-up, understanding them is important to successfully navigate this city’s business environment. Although start-ups have their challenges, they also have an incredible culture you seldom find in large firms.
Who is Glance Technologies?
For my first co-op experience, I had the opportunity to work as the business development coordinator for Glance Technologies. Glance Technologies operates the mobile payment app: Glance Pay. It’s a secure way for restaurant and retail partners to improve the payment process while innovatively connecting to their customers.
My First Co-op Experience
This being my first co-op term, I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know what to wear, how welcoming my co-workers would be or what exact tasks I would be assigned. I quickly learned that this environment was very unique. Working for Glance Technologies not only gave me relevant work experience but also allowed me to grow as a professional and as a person. Here are a few things I learned along the way:
1. “Check Your Ego at the Door”
One of the very first pieces of advice given to me by the Head of HR was to “check (my) ego at the door”. While some days were largely filled with conducting market research, finding data trends and emailing partners; these were tasks that fell directly under my job title as the business development coordinator. On other days, however, I was completing tasks that couldn’t have been further from my job description - I packed boxes, designed mugs, completed tradeshow registrations and unloaded the dishwasher.
Looking around, every person in the office was taking on responsibilities that were outside their job descriptions. Tasks within a start-up may not always seem pertinent, but they nevertheless help the business succeed overall. Checking my ego at the door allowed me to take each task in stride regardless of the scope of work.
2. Understand the Work Culture
On the morning of my first day, I put on my favorite dress shoes, practiced giving a firm handshake and arrived 20 minutes early. My boss, Paola, gave me a tour and introduced me to my new co-workers. She then invited me to have lunch with her at a nearby restaurant in order to welcome me. Little did I know, I was having lunch with the VP of Business and Client Development, the Chief Digital Officer and the Chief Financial Officer. I mean, how many co-op students could say they got this treatment on their first day? After lunch, we all attended the company-wide meeting, which was largely meant to introduce me and the other five employees starting that day.
It became clear from the dress code, lunch, and welcome meeting what this company was all about. This company thrives on collaboration fostered through a comfortable work environment. Glance Technologies wasn’t only about professionalism and image; this company’s work culture made everyone feel confident in being themselves regardless of who was around.
3. Always Give Your 100%
After a couple of weeks of conducting research for the business development team on restaurant expenses and trends, I was invited to my first strategy meeting. I expected to sit in the corner of the room taking meeting minutes but instead walked into a meeting of executives analyzing the research I had done. To say this was nerve-racking would be an immense understatement.
How many other companies would have work done by a co-op student directly impact the discussions of top executives? With start-ups having a smaller workforce, every assignment is multiplied in importance. To be successful, I constantly looked for ways to improve in order to display my best work.
Some Final Thoughts
Glance Technologies is made up of a diverse mix of people ranging in experience and backgrounds. Through this first co-op term, I was able to accomplish my learning goals and develop my skills largely because of the start-up environment of the company. Start-ups may come with different challenges, but the rewards far outweigh the extra work.