At the point of exploration: William, Engineering Intern
October 21, 2020 // 10min read
What is my 'why'? That's a question I've been asked in myriad job interviews in myriad ways, and I've never had a good answer. What being here has helped me to realize this summer, however, is that that's okay. Right now I'm trying to figure out my why and Qualtrics is the best place to do that. I'm offered new and interesting ways to grow and learn every day, and I'm supported and treated like a person - not simply my job title. I'm allowed to explore instead of being expected to already have the map charted.
What was the turning point where you 'had to have the job'?
I attended (and won!) a hackathon in my sophomore year of college, and one of the prizes was an interview with Qualtrics for a possible internship. In the course of that interview, which very quickly veered off into a conversation about our views on technology and how it helps (and hurts) people, I realized that Qualtrics - and the people who work here - embody the same ideals that I do. Insofar as technology is concerned, it's not meant to be all-encompassing, and it shouldn't be the lens through which we view the world. But it is meant to make things better, to make life easier, and to be used for what it is: a tool to solve problems that we wouldn't be able to solve without it. So, I applied. Twice, actually.
The kicker for me, though, was that throughout the interview process it was highlighted that sometimes the best thing you can do is to put that tool down. For someone who had been working 100 hours a week to get into the CS program at my university, and had continued burning the candle from both ends in order to get a job somewhere like Qualtrics, I needed to hear that. Of course, as I already alluded to, I didn't get the internship that first year - that would've been too easy. But I did realize that I needed to come here. So, after a stressful interview series this last fall, here I am.
What does your day look like as an intern?
Probably very unlike anyone’s before or after this summer will, considering I'm in the first remote internship class. But for me, I roll into work around 9 AM (and by “roll in,” I mean I open my laptop and sign onto the company VPN). From there, I have an hour to clear email, go through miscellaneous tasks, and frankly just drink coffee and try to wake up. Then I have my team's daily SCRUM meeting. After that, my mentor and I have a 1:1 to discuss where we're at in the project and what I'm intending to do for the day. Just to stay on the same page. Then it's time for lunch and Netflix, so I actually start my programming part of the day around 12:30 or 1, depending on how long our meetings go. We'll usually have a meeting in the afternoon from 2-3 for sprint planning, end-of-week, design hours, etc., but primarily the afternoons are where I get to get into my project. Which, considering I'm useless before my fifth cup of coffee, is definitely for the best.
I think as an important semi-aside, I really struggled with work/life balance when I first started work here. Working remotely makes you feel like you need to always be working/active on Slack/providing value in order to prove you're not just taking advantage of not needing to be in an office. At least it did for me. Thankfully, my team was incredibly helpful in convincing me that:
- the work will always be here tomorrow
- if you're not happy, your work's gonna suffer anyway
After that, I made a point of logging off by 5 and just checking in with my mentor and manager in order to make sure that we were on track.
What surprised you most about working at Qualtrics?
I know every company says this, but trust me when I say that it's different here. Everybody here actively embodies the company's values. Now, I could tell you what they are, but really it distills down to this:
- Be creative in how you solve problems; don't let perfect get in the way of good, and don't be afraid of making mistakes.
- Your goal isn't to make yourself look good. Your goal is to work well with your team. To be the kind of person that you yourself would want to go to for help, not the one that people hate to DM.
- Your team? It's all of us. There are no lines in the sand, there's no competition. The reason that this company is as amazing as it is to work for, and as amazing as it is on paper, is because we don't compete with each other. Our goal is to enhance our clients' experiences, not to argue over which team gets the credit for that cool new feature we rolled out. We all played our part. We're all involved. We're the same team in every way that matters.
Now, I get that that might sound like, well, every other company. But here's the distinction: at Qualtrics, it's really true. Everyone here is wonderful to work with, and I haven't met anyone that wouldn't bend over backward to help me if I asked them to - or anyone that I wouldn't do the same for if the opportunity ever arose.
What is your top #LifeHack?
Treat everybody like they're your life-long friends. You'll be amazed by how far you get.
|William is a future alumnus of the University of Washington and started his career at eSports.|
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