This year, we had the opportunity to bring on an intern for the summer. We were so excited to have Sara join the team! Read below to find out more about her experience...
Hi I am Sara Syed, a student at Brown university majoring in computer science and economics. This summer I had the opportunity to intern for Thinker-Tinker. Although the internship was remote, I got a taste of fast paced startup culture. From getting to work closely with the CEO, to choosing the projects I work on, I felt that I not only got to make an impact for the company, but I also got to learn so much. CEO, Yuting Su, ensured that I got the opportunity to be a part of projects and meetings that were relevant to my interests while also helping me to learn, grow and expand my skill set.
When I interviewed with Thinker-Tinker and had the opportunity to meet with Yuting, I was immediately inspired by the company’s mission to combine interactive media and learning to create a new pattern of play and innovate children’s education. As a lover of technology and having previously conducted research for educational and social technologies for children with Autism, I think it's really important that we reconsider the way we view screen time and learn to utilize technology to actually encourage social skills and early emotional development. Thinker-Tinker seeks to do just that, and for this reason I knew immediately that this was the company I wanted to intern for.
When I first started my internship, I was struck by Thinker-Tinker’s culture, which I imagine heavily aligns with that of most startups. Having only ever completed internships at large companies, I actually felt very overwhelmed in the beginning. I was assigned multiple projects at once, got to sit in on meetings with the entire company, and was asked for my input on ideas. Having worked only for very corporate organizations where I was assigned to one small part of one project and met with one specific manager, it was daunting at first to realize that I could actually make a large impact and that my advice and work was well respected. Because of this, I was nervous that I wouldn’t live up to expectations. Very soon into my internship, however, I realized that this was not the case. The Thinker-Tinker team was extremely supportive and allowed me to learn throughout the entire process. They encouraged my work, even when it was not perfect, and allowed me to grow throughout the internship. Even though all of our communication and meetings were done virtually, they still managed to make me feel extremely welcomed and supported.
Here is a photo of Tristan (lead Software Developer), me, Yuting (CEO), and Jourdan (Product Manager) on a dev call
In the end, this very culture that I was almost afraid of, ended up being what made my internship so special.
It was so amazing to have the opportunity to work on multiple projects that would both help me to solidify my technical skills and explore new interests. I worked on a user data analytics project, which allowed me to put skills and theories I had learned in my university’s data science course into practice. It was really great to take something you’ve learned in school and actually put it to test. It’s very rare that you get the opportunity to do so, especially so soon after learning it. With the help of the development team, I was introduced to Unity, a popular game development platform. I even got to help layout and create some scenes for their upcoming Octobo play app.
Here’s an example of a screen I helped create and the Unity layout
Their team was super supportive and helped me one on one to learn about this new development environment. I had daily check-ins with Jourdan, the product manager, who’s invaluable support and knowledge helped guide me through the internship experience. I worked closely with Jourdan on social media and marketing projects as well.
My internship experience lived up to my expectations, and I am so grateful to have gotten this opportunity to learn so much this summer and work for such a great organization. From the very beginning, when I expressed an interest not only in software development but also marketing, Yuting helped me to design this internship experience to help me grow my technical skills while introducing me to business and marketing roles.
Overall, the experience and mentorship has been so unique and unmatched because it has given me insight into the fast paced world of startups and the opportunity to wear many different hats. My biggest piece of advice for those considering working for a startup is to embrace the fact that you can make an impact. Express interest in projects that you want to be a part of. Take the initiative and ask for project requirements and expectations. In this unique time, where so many roles are online, it's especially important to ask for some guidelines and understand your role and this will ultimately be what allows you to adapt to a high paced startup environment.
I strongly encourage others to learn more about Thinker-Tinker’s mission.
I received this internship and got in touch with Thinker-Tinker through the Female Founders Alliance (FFA), an organization that works to create a community to help accelerate the growth of startups founded by women and non binary individuals. I would like to give a special thanks to FFA for this wonderful opportunity.