Waterloo student works from home in India, for company 13,000 km away

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

By: Hirumal Munasinghe

Mumbai, India at night verses San Jose, California during the day

For most people, working through the night to earn a co-op credit sounds like a challenge. But second-year Waterloo Arts and Business student, Sharanya Karkera, says it has been an exciting opportunity.

Karkera currently lives in Mumbai, India and is doing her second remote work term for an organization in San Jose, California.

She spends her nights working for Calix Inc., a cloud software and communication platform service provider.

“While I was interviewing and asked if it was okay for me to work remote from India, Calix Inc. was flexible enough to allow that,”Karkera says. India was facing a devastating second wave of COVID-19 at the time and she was determined to find a way to secure a co-op position while keeping herself and her family safe.

Karkera is studying Communication Arts with Design Practice with a double major in Economics while working towards a Creative Writing diploma. She has had two different co-op roles at Calix Inc. During her first work term in Winter 2021, she was a customer success intern. In Spring 2021, she returned as a content and copywriter editor intern.

Sharanya's remote co-op workspace at home in Mumbai, India for California based co-op job

A self-described night owl, Karkera is comfortable working during Eastern time zone hours with the rest of her team. She’s set up a workstation in her home to avoid disturbing her family while she works late into the night. Karkera enjoys the peace and quiet of the night, explaining that the space to herself and lack of disturbances makes for excellent working conditions.

Aside from being tired some nights, there are few other obstacles that she faces in terms of international work.

Calix Inc. allows Karkera to expand the application of her personal skillset. In her customer success role, she did graphic design using tools like Adobe Creative Suite. In Karkera’s current role, she focuses more on elements of content creation including writing. By allowing her to experience both writing and design roles, she was able to experiment and consider which she prefers. This made the international role worthwhile for Karkera.

“It was something with the culture and the people that mattered to me, building that connection was important. With Calix, my manager and I, clicked right from the beginning, so that bond was important to me.”

This sense of company culture is something that is very important to Karkera, who suggests that new co-op students should be investing their time in researching a company and that it’s a good fit for them.

“I realized that I was focusing too much on researching the company and not the role per-se. What’s important is knowing the ins and outs of a role and understanding the responsibilities. I would understand the skills, but I wouldn't understand why they were asking for them. So, I think understanding the reason for the job responsibilities, is important. I would say even a little more important than the company itself."

- Sharanya Karkera, second-year Arts and Business student

This practice is something that Karkera applied to her own interview with Calix Inc. Her research in the role allowed her to practice and prepare for interview questions. Noticing that communication was a quality that was valued by the role, she made sure to be a clear communicator and show off her strong work ethic and drive. Karkera took one step further by reaching out to the hiring manager on LinkedIn, to build a rapport beyond her interview.

She believes that co-op is an opportunity for students to figure out what type of work they like and what type of work aligns best with their skills. Karkera is thankful that she got to experience different areas of work at Calix Inc. and encourages new co-op students not to be nervous about jobs they could pursue.

“I think at the end of it is just like, going with your gut,” she says. “Believing in yourself, if there's something you feel strongly about, even if a lot of people are saying no to it, I think you should just go for it.”