The internship of a lifetime
Interns are having to adapt to the realities of the job market in a series of unprecedented circumstances. With the pandemic, and the proliferation of remote work, internships are happening at a distance. Young people who have never seen the inside of an office may never do it at all. We sat down with our own interns to see how they are dealing with this new experience.
It is customary for profiles like this to start with a quirky anecdote about how the interviewer and interviewee (in this case interviewees) met. Alas, the meeting was, of course, remote. All that can be described is the flickering of computer screens and bright faces in video call frames. Cheila and Inês were happy to talk to us, however, and tell us what it’s like to be an intern in 2021, working fully remote.
Embracing the remote ethos
“We didn’t really have a choice, at the start, did we?” says Inês. “When we applied for the internships, everyone was working remotely, whether they liked it or not.”
Reviewpad is a fully remote company. It was built this way by design. Whenever health-related restrictions are lifted, little will change in regards to its day-to-day operations. Neither Cheila or Inês seem to be fazed in the slightest by this.
“A few of the companies we could’ve applied to are now working in offices again. I did want that experience when we started out. If I had gotten the chance, I would’ve picked it. Now, I’ve realised being in a healthy working environment is what’s truly important”, continues Inês.
Both have fully adapted to working in a remote environment, and both are thriving. They are students of the Porto University Faculty of Sciences (FCUP - Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto), and they came to Reviewpad in very different circumstances.
One internship becomes two
“I actually had offers from several companies”, says Cheila, “and I picked Reviewpad because of the interview. The company felt more dynamic, more comfortable. It really did feel different to me.”
Inês was interviewing for the same spot as Cheila, and she wasn’t picked. But that wasn’t because the company felt she was any less valuable.
“I wasn’t entirely sure I was up for it. I loved the theoretical aspect of studying. I wanted to stay in academia for a little longer. I wasn’t sure I was ready to just start working, since the practical aspect of our courses is lacking. Marcelo (Reviewpad's CEO) picked up on that immediately, and he got in touch with me to create a position within the company that would suit my strengths. He just immediately understood what I was about. I couldn’t waste that opportunity”, she says.
So how does one go about getting people started in a software company, when we don’t have an office, and the company doesn’t even have fixed hours?
It starts with trust, and it ends with accountability. Both Cheila and Inês are closely shadowing one of the senior elements of the company, Tiago Ferreira (front-end navigator) and Adriano Martins (COO) respectively. They are the ones that set their tasks in the beginning, and evaluated their progress. In just a few months, however, both have become highly independent.
“We do have hours in which we must be available, and of course we have to deliver on our work, but I am now working on a larger project that I am in charge of. I don’t have specific tasks with specific deadlines”, says Inês. Cheila has a similar experience. She has been given access to the larger codebase, and she can choose what to work on at any given time. They are treated by their mentors as colleagues, not underlings.
“I don’t think a lot of companies would embrace us in the way Reviewpad has. I’m in touch with friends who are working elsewhere, and they are stunned with how we are treated”, says Cheila.
A lot of interns are just hired to do the busywork that no one likes. We feel we are part of the team.
- Cheila Alves
Teams for the digital era
Because that’s one of the key aspects of building a remote company. Understanding how you can build a team that’s solid, and that feels a strong team spirit, without being physically present for each other.
“I had some stuff left over for school that I still had to get to”, says Inês, “and I feel like that was when I really understood how this remote thing could work. My time was my own, and I could manage my tasks very effectively while always remaining online and available. I was given the freedom to do that, and everyone was very understanding. If I was inside an office, I could’ve never managed it as well”, says Inês.
Reviewpad is a company founded by friends, and most of the people who work there see each other as family.
“Sometimes it’s the little things, like when the company sent us some merchandise and games directly to our homes. It made us feel appreciated”, says Cheila.
The future is theirs
I want to continue working in UX and UI. I didn’t even realise all you can do in these areas. We don’t focus on them at all in university.
- Inês Silva
“I have always wanted to work in web development. I knew it from the get-go, and now I am even more sure”, finishes Cheila.
While no one knows what the future holds after an internship, both Cheila and Inês have changed their views on what remote work can be, team spirit, and even the areas they want to specialise in.
At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.