My junior year was supposed to be filled with career fairs and networking opportunities but it is very likely going to be heavily impacted as everything is held remotely (if not cancelled). Therefore, I figured I should at least have a place for me to talk about my experiences, share the passion projects I’m working on, and even get to know more people through digital platforms!
I am currently working for an AI startup called Giftpack. As a rising junior in college who has been desperately searching for a summer internship, and then having all the lined up interviews and ongoing applications canceled, I genuinely believe that it is already a blessing for me to land a job at a company that is willing to grow with young talents during tough times.
Giftpack is a global digital business. Our services are available in multiple countries (U.S, Taiwan, Singapore, HongKong, Japan); our team is also scattered all around the world. My team, the Business Development team, for example, consists of college students like me based in New York, Louisiana, California, Japan, and Taiwan, as well as managers based in both the U.S and Taiwan.
Before entering Giftpack, I also had a two-semester long business development internship in a sports event company based in New York, where my job function is very similar to a manager’s assistant. I compiled leads per his requests, sent email blasts, and sat beside him to listen and learn while he’s on the phone or in a meeting. However, at Giftpack, while the majority of the Business Development team are college students, we are all individual representatives who hunt down our own businesses and negotiate our own deals. Maybe more on the Business Development job in my future posts; let’s get back on topic.
This remote working environment wasn’t an entirely new concept to me. Early in March, when my school transitioned into remote learning, I have had a taste of how remote communication works. However, working remotely and taking classes remotely still had vast differences. During the past spring semester, I only needed to meet with my classmates for a final project twice, while at the company, meetings are on a daily basis.
Because of my current location (Taiwan) and the time zone accommodations for all of our employees, I attend meetings at 11 pm every night. During the past month, I have had more than enough “bro what?” responses while I turned down various gathering invitations. I didn’t want to leave in a rush when I’m at a friend’s house party or walk outside the restaurant and dial in the meeting on the street. So yes, remote working isn’t always convenient when it comes to a global business and time zone differences. Needless to say that after a long day, I have to put my food-coma-ed self back to return to work mode after dinner.
But the pros of remote working aren’t missed out. Whether I was supposed to be in New York or Taipei (a co-working space at The Hive), there is going to be a crowded and chaotic subway ride to work. With the commute time and cost saved, I have found myself less stressed when I get up for work. I have been using the extra time I gained from not needing to commute to settle my mindset while enjoying a proper breakfast (we all know that as college students, it is rare for one to actually sit down and have a decent breakfast every morning)
As a college student who hasn’t officially entered the workforce, I believe what I value the most about remote working is going to resonate with many college students out there.
Before Giftpack, I have had a couple of internships with various rigor; some had me working nonstop, while some occasionally had me spacing out in the office. The very best part of remote working is its task-driven nature. In the traditional office environment, if the company does not have a structured intern management system, plenty of time would be wasted while the interns are waiting for instructions and their hours to end. When the manager is busy, it is also likely that the interns would be randomly assigned some tedious operations to spare time. In my opinion, that is not time-efficient and barely has learning value.
However, at Giftpack, and safe to assume most remote working environments, since there are no designated working hours and supervisors in-person, we are heavily task-driven. Two months into this job, I appreciate this work structure that, when I completed my task, I know it’s my own time. I wouldn’t need to sit in the office and pretend to be busy. It also prompted me to occasionally go ahead of my schedule just because the momentum of the job has gone so smoothly when I am working from home.
Fun fact to start this part: I am two months into this job, and I haven’t met any of my colleagues in person; even the entire hiring process was online.
Recently, as universities all over the world announced their transition into online learning, one of the major setbacks is the deprived opportunity to meet people. One of the reasons why in-person classes are valuable is the human interaction component. Likewise, it feels unreal that I have been working with people who I have never met in person.
This is where the company atmosphere building comes in handy. I appreciated the “casual” component that was curated by the company leadership. There are weekly random pairings in between colleagues, and a non-work based conversation or hangout session has to be completed; these are all to help the team actually feel like a team. Also, during our weekly company reunions, we all give a quick share of our lives outside of work. When I was first introduced to this idea, knowing that I would probably never meet most of the team members that are based overseas, I thought it was a waste of time.
However, after I was half-forced to get to know my colleagues, work actually became more enjoyable. Like how students are more engaged in classes when they have certain classmates, they know outside of the classroom, establishing personal connections with my “remote teammates” also made work more enjoyable and interactive. At Giftpack, especially when almost half of the team are college students, you would imagine how easy it is for us to get along with each other!
As many of the major companies have announced to go fully remote until the end of 2021, it is a sign that remote working could become the new norm. At Giftpack, however, we have been working remotely even before the pandemic, and I personally think it has been and will continue to be the right strategy for startups like us.
Opinions on #WFH have been one of the hottest debates recently, and there is a certain amount of workers who have been enjoying #WFH and claim that they can’t go back to office lives anymore. Personally, although I have not experienced life in the real “Corporate America” and I have roughly two more years before I enter the workforce as a full-time degreed worker, I’m just glad that I had this opportunity to get a taste of what #WFH feels with a well prepared and thoughtfully managed company like Giftpack.
In case you are curious, Giftpack is a global service company that helps businesses grow with an AI-powered gifting platform that provides real personalization at scale in Account-Based Marketing, Sales, Customer Success, and Employee Rewards.
On the consumer side, Giftpack also provides an on-demand gifting service for customers to send gifts cross-cities and cross-countries.
True story: before I started working with Giftpack, I was one of the customers who ordered a surprise gift to my long-distance girlfriend while I was in New York. This is how I found out about Giftpack.