What goes on inside a company like ShopBack? You know the one – the digital platform that gives you cashback to alleviate some of that intense online retail therapy. Bernard Koh, ShopBack’s software engineer intern, sat down recently to share glimpses into his internship experience with ShopBack – and the larger tech industry.
Are you itching to know what it’s like to be an intern at a leading startup? We guarantee that you’ll love what he has to say. Let’s get on with it!
How did you end up as a Software Engineer Intern at Shopback?
Bernard: At a bigger tech company, interns are usually outnumbered by full-timers. I was seeking a startup internship because I wanted my contributions to be deeply valued.
So I applied to many startups and didn’t care for which software engineering role (backend, web front-end, mobile front-end) I got. As long as I had the opportunity to learn new technologies and software engineering concepts with a good mentor, I was all game!
ShopBack offered me an internship even though I had no experience in Android development and I was very grateful for that. I’ve always wanted to get my hands on mobile development, so I jumped at the opportunity when the supervisor said he was willing to guide me and show me the ropes. Moreover, I’ve been using ShopBack for a while and love that they gave cashback for my online purchases.
What is it about your job at Shopback that you love so much?
Bernard: I didn’t feel like an intern at all in ShopBack! I was given opportunities like any other full-timer – and they respected my opinions. It was very fulfilling when my code was pushed to production, where tens of thousands of users are using the app.
The mobile team in ShopBack in still quite small and we’re all friends with each other. More often than not, at the end of the week, the team will just kick back and relax in the office, drinking ice-cold beers from the open pantry.
What’s a typical day at work like at Shopback?
Bernard: In the mobile team, we always start the day off with a short standup meeting. Yes, we stand (no sitting at all) in a circle and each of us will share what we did the day before, what we were going to do that day, and if we were facing any problems. The rest of the day will be spent completing our individual tasks for the 2-week sprint, where usually at the end we’ll release an updated version of the ShopBack app.
Before the start of the sprint, a whole day would be spent planning the tasks of the sprint to meet the Product Manager’s product requirements. Fortnightly, the product team conducts a sharing session over lunch on upcoming product improvements they have in mind for the app and seek the engineers’ input.
At some point in the day, a ShopBacker will take a can of Ayataka green tea from the fridge. You have no idea how much Ayataka ShopBackers consume!
What are some words you would use to describe the community/environment at Shopback?
Bernard: There is a culture of owning the change you seek. Everyone takes ownership of their work to give the best output they can. Across teams and countries, we all work closely together to ensure ShopBack users have the best experience from using our products.
Apart from working hard, we also play hard. From playing foosball to table tennis to game consoles, there isn’t a lack of games. For a short period of time, there were even those old school arcade machines in ShopBack!
Any words of advice to those looking to pursue a career in this field?
Bernard: The tech industry is changing very rapidly. New technologies are coming up very quickly and it’s important to be relevant and updated. Remember to not be complacent. There is always something more to optimise in your code, or more edge cases to prevent.
I guess my greatest takeaway is to have fun exploring. You might be comfortable with the technologies you are already using, but there’s no harm having an open mind to learn, grow, and sharpen your skills.
Lastly, I’ll share something my mentor told me on my first day of work: “Third-party libraries might ease your workload, but using too many libraries doesn’t always necessarily mean it is better. You should not use a library until you understand how it works. Because when the code breaks, do you know how to fix it?“
Has your curiosity been fired up by Bernard’s experience? He won’t be the last successful software engineer intern who walks through ShopBack’s doors. The next one could be you. Don’t miss your chance to join ShopBack and other unicorn companies like it, because if you’re going to grow, the best place for it is right where change is happening faster than you can blink.
What are you waiting for? Your future at ShopBack awaits!