Working at a Canadian start-up as an international student

Vinayak Bector (he/him), a second-year Computer Science student, shares his experience working in his first co-op position as a mobile application developer at RouteThis. He discusses the process of integrating himself into the Canadian workplace as an international student. 

Q and A with Vinayak:

Q: Do you An image of Vinayak have an accomplishment you are proud of from this co-op?  

A: “I was given the opportunity to work on my own project. Being a first-time co-op student, this was quite a significant task for me. I worked on developing sample products that consumers could use to understand the main product that the company was developing.” 

“I was also able to work on the actual product and being able to contribute in such a manner made me really proud. Working on real-world projects after learning about it in classrooms was very fulfilling. I was also told that my contribution to the product development stages saved the company significant amounts of time and money.”


Q: What were the most challenging aspects of this co-op? 

A: “This was my first co-op so I wasn’t sure about what would be expected from me. A few days into this position, I realized that I would have to learn five new programming languages and tools in order to successfully complete all the tasks that were assigned to me.”  

“Another challenge was navigating a new work atmosphere. Being an international student, I was not familiar with the processes, pace and culture of a Canadian company. However, just allowing myself some time to adjust to the new tasks and environment helped me feel fully integrated with the company and my colleagues. Another important factor is the right kind of guidance. My supervisor was extremely supportive, and facilitated me in overcoming any obstacles that came in my way.”  

Q: What did you gain through this position?

An image of Vinayak

A: “On the technical side, I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to create product roadmaps, which involved assessing improvements in existing products and conjuring up ideas for new products. I was deeply involved in the prioritization and development of products, which was something I had always wanted to work on.”  

“On the business side, I learned the process of integrating customer needs and feedback in the products and was able to learn more about the importance and function of business goals.”  

“Through discussion with my colleagues, I was able to gain an improved understanding of the product development process. I was also able to contribute my ideas and insights on the company’s tools and framework, despite being a co-op student.”  

Q: What were aspects of the company’s culture you enjoyed? 

A: “I liked working in a start-up, because despite my position as a co-op, everyone respected me and wanted to know my opinion on all topics of discussion. The team I was surrounded by encouraged collaboration and always made sure that I was welcomed and supported. Along with that, I consistently received feedback on my work, which helped me learn and grow from through experiences. The company bestowed me a lot of trust in me by allowing me to work on an entire project on my own.”

Q: What was a technique you used to stay organized? 

A: “I used Agile, which is used by a lot of tech companies. I would schedule frequent check-ins with my supervisor to keep me accountable for my work. I also made weekly reports and presented it to the VP which helped me stay on top of my game.”  

Q: WAn image of Vinayak hat’s next for you?  

A: “RouteThis offered another position for me to take on in my next co-op term. I am excited to take this offer up not only because of the enriching experience I gained in my last co-op term, but also because I really enjoyed working in this position. Co-op is meant to discover what you are truly passionate about or what kind of environment you would thrive best it.” 

“I believe that this company brings out the some of my best skill, characterises and confidence. At the point in time, I do not want to explore more fields, I would rather become better in this one. Moving forward I would test a variety of options in more areas in the future and find my true niche!”  

Follow Vinayak on LinkedIn.

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