Being a part of the team at NextRoll detailed through the eyes of an intern on the analytics team.
7 minute read
‘Cali or Bust’. Anyone in the math faculty’s co-op program at the University of Waterloo can tell you what that means – wanting to land a sweet internship in California or nothing at all. I’m currently in my 4th co-op (out of 6), and since my first application period, I had become accustomed to the norm of dreaming about a term in California. Everyone else’s aspirations had somehow shaped my own and I started aiming towards achieving a job in the tech hub of the world.
One of the things that’s great about the program I’m in is the frequent switch between school terms and work terms. When handing in countless assignments become your life’s purpose and biggest immediate stressor, looking forward to 4 or 8 months of working and a lack of anxiety-inducing exams helps students like myself pull through the difficulties of academic life. Similarly, when the work routine and waking up every day to commute to a 9 to 5 job might start to feel mundane, the independence of a self-regulated school schedule starts to feel appealing again.
In May of this year, applications for the Fall co-op term began. I let myself be pickier than usual this term because I knew I didn’t want to solely apply to jobs based on their location, but also wanted to find job descriptions that resonated with my goals. Scattered throughout thousands of postings, were a few data driven roles that I was interested in. The posting for an analytics internship at a company called AdRoll (now NextRoll), felt like a potential good match. RTB? ‘What’s that?’ I wondered, looking it up to discover the interesting field of auction tech and real time bidding algorithms. ‘What’s a golden bagel?’ ‘Look at these cute culture creatures on their website.’ In particular, I liked the owl, which represented hiring great people and helping each other grow. Growth, on both individual and company levels, is hugely valued at NextRoll. As a student trying to jump into the workforce, encouragement and resources to expand my skillset are reserved as the most valuable things I can be provided with.
So, yeah, NextRoll seemed like a company with interesting work, a diverse and engaging culture, and also happened to be in San Francisco. Application submitted.
Over the next few weeks of May into June, I juggled lectures and assignments and phone calls and technical challenges and interviews and info sessions. The more companies I interacted with, the more I knew I felt I would fit in best with NextRoll. The recruiters were all friendly and really cared about matchmaking the right interns to the right positions. They held a great social in Waterloo where I got to interact with employees from the team I had applied to as well as other teams. I began to stop caring about ‘Cali or Bust’ and start caring about focusing on doing good data science work and meeting inspiring people at this company.
The interviewing period came to an end in June and I ended up receiving an offer, made an excited phone call to my dad, and started planning the co-op term with NextRoll.
The first few weeks of the internship were full of training sessions for the NewRollers that joined NextRoll in September. The trainings introduced the new recruits to every team at the company, not just the one we would be working on, and these were great overviews to show us how the company functioned. We even got to have a discussion with the CEO, Toby Gabriner, which showed me that every employee at every level is seen as important. The diversity of the group I was in trainings with was obvious to me, faces of different ages and countries and experiences sitting next to me. Everyone was outgoing and intelligent and ready to contribute their talents towards growing this company. There were 4 other UW co-ops aside from me, which was cool because I haven’t closely worked with other UW students at my past 3 co-op jobs. These co-ops turned into some really great friends.
NextRoll has a great office in Mission District. It’s a sunny, open space concept with lots of good snacks, company dinners and – OMG – a bunch of cute dogs. The hours are flexible; as long as you get your work done, you are entitled to a fairly independent schedule.
My work involves answering questions or conducting analyses for the product or engineering teams. There is a lot of data to work with and a variety of tools at your disposal to get what you need to do done. Transitioning into new companies so often becomes a ritual, but setup and acclimating to different norms remains difficult in the beginning. Everyone on the analytics team I am on was kind enough to have a 1 on 1 chat with me to introduce themselves and the team from their perspective. Being a part of this collection of smart, accomplished, and yet down to earth people is inspiring. Every day, I have many questions, and rather than feel self-conscious about how much I feel I need to learn, I find myself being provided with encouragement and everlasting guidance. Experiencing this level of support motivates me to one day become a helpful and knowledgeable full-timer.
I value being at NextRoll because of not just the good work, but the engaging company events, the community service program, inclusive groups like Women in Tech, and of course the super dog-friendly office. In my few months of being here I’ve been lucky enough to visit a good range of other companies headquartered in the area, and I can say that not every company has all of these things that I now look for.
Working at a company in California shouldn’t be the goal. Working at a company with values that align with yours should be the goal. Working at a company with a culture and job responsibilities that make you excited to go to work should be the goal. A company that emphasizes diversity, having resource groups and appreciates work-life balance should be the goal.
To anyone in the search for a job, be open minded in finding a match that makes you feel fulfilled regardless of location. Sure, there may be a higher density of such companies in the state of California, but I think they exist everywhere. All my internships have been in different cities, each one its own amazing opportunity and learning experience. Don’t just ‘Cali or Bust’. Find your NextRoll.