I am an Anthropology major, and we are often pigeonholed to careers in human services or academia. I desired a co-op where I would learn skills that my major did not necessarily prepare me for. Tech was the perfect field.
I applied to Jana, which is a mobile technology start-up that helps app developers connect to consumers in emerging markets, like India, Brazil, China, Indonesia, and more, through mobile airtime. Airtime is another word for mobile Internet. Our company has developed an app that rewards consumers with free mobile Internet if they download apps such as WeChat or Amazon. The consumers are happy because we provide them with the means to use their phones for free! This makes the app developers who hire us happy, as they tap into new markets of consumers.
I was hired in June of 2014 as a ‘General Associate.’ At the start of my coop, my duties were solely customer service oriented. I spent my days replying to emails from members complaining about our app. But during my six months’ time, our member base quadrupled in size. The volume of emails we received increased dramatically, making my job nearly impossible. In October, we switched customer service softwares in order to answer masses of emails at once. This freed up my time, causing my responsibilities to shift and allowing me to gain experience in a variety of positions. Projects I completed include: conducting member support surveys and presenting them to the company as formal write-ups, running the Facebook/Twitter pages of our app, overseeing the maintenance of the customer service software, running daily diagnostics of support analytics, maintaining relationships with members who give us insight into improving our product, and other tasks.
For lack of a better word, my co-op at Jana was amazing. I worked with some of the brightest people who are at the top their field, in a booming industry, driving a product I believe has potential to change the way the world accesses Internet. Jana is a small company, with less than fifty people, which fosters intimate relationships between coworkers. We have an open-office design, so desks are arranged into series of islands. Goodbye cubicles! The proximity to employees meant that I could listen to and participate in discussions on projects not directly assigned to me. In an environment with so much transparency, I was able to learn beyond the confinement of my job title. Through a backhand conversation I had with an employee one day, I decided to pick up a task that allowed me to learn elementary code in SQL! I am incredibly thankful and humbled by my experience at Jana. I now continue to work there part-time while still enrolled at Northeastern.
My advice to any non-STEM majors considering a career in tech: intern at a start-up. The size will give you exposure to all departments in the company, from Business Development to Software Engineering, which you would not have access to at a larger corporation. Take advantage of it. Seek out opportunities, propose projects, ask questions, push your boundaries, maximize your potential to learn and grow and you will ultimately build your skill set.
Interested in working at Jana? We are currently hiring! Check out our awesome career page. Don’t see the right job? Join Jana’s talent network!