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What I learned as an intern at a start-up

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What I learned as an intern at a start-up

Spending a summer at Coins.ph taught the author about digital currency–and how to speak up and work hard
THE OFFICE of Coin.ph

THE OFFICE of Coin.ph

BEFORE starting my internship, I knew next to nothing about bitcoins, financial inclusion
and working in general.

But, like most 18-year-olds, I thought these were merely vague concepts that I sometimes encountered in passing but never really tried to understand.

However, in spite of my limited knowledge, I chose to take a risk and intern at Coins.ph this summer. And that has made all the difference.

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The first question that always comes up when I tell other people about my internship is how I found out about Coins.ph—a company that uses mobile devices and blockchain technology to make money transfer easy and accessible.

It was actually by chance that I discovered it through the YouthHack Summer Fellowship Program, which connects students with start-ups they can intern in. What compelled me to choose Coins.ph over other partner start-ups was a strong sense of curiosity.

The company was unlike any other startup I was familiar with—or any I had even heard of. For some reason yet unknown at the time, I just felt like it was the perfect place for me to get out of my comfort zone
and learn something new.

As an operations and marketing intern, I was responsible for processing certain orders, identity verification requests and answering support e-mails. Truth be told, it wasn’t always easy at first. I’d get quite mixed up with what I was doing, but with a lot of help and exposure, I eventually grew accustomed to these tasks.

The journey of getting familiar with the work flow inevitably came with my fair share of slip-ups. Nevertheless, instead of being ashamed of those mistakes, I’m grateful for the takeaway lessons each has imparted.

It was after one incident that I was introduced to the Rule of Three: think of three ways a problem can be avoided in the future.

I also learned that communication, specifically bubbling things up, was key in ensuring that the customers
were getting the best possible service.

Laid-back culture

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DINNER with the team during the writer’s last day as intern

DINNER with the team during the writer’s last day as intern

What I loved about interning in a start-up was the laid-back environment, which made it easier for me to adapt to and assimilate the office culture.

Evidenced by the casual attire of my officemates, I could show up wearing jeans and a hoodie and still
blend in. This was quite fortunate for someone like me who had no blazers, pencil skirts, or other formal wear.

Apparel aside, the relaxed atmosphere helped me get over my initial awkwardness and better understand
what the company was about. As further explained by my coworker, Iggy, this type of easygoing climate
actually facilitates a better environment for discourse and innovation.

Another benefit of interning in a start-up is accessibility. My officemates were only a message away on Slack—a messaging app—or literally just a few feet away. They also were very accommodating about the many
questions and concerns I had.

Even if I was nervous or could have used Google to answer any of my concerns, I think getting information directly from people who were proficient about a certain subject was a better way of learning. Each question served as an opportunity for me to know more.

Soon I became familiar with a Satoshi (the smallest fraction of a Bitcoin, a form of digital currency). I also learned, almost by heart, which IDs were accepted by the company for identity verification.

As the days and weeks went by, I started feeling less and less like an intern. I guess it was because I was never treated like one. At Coins.ph, I could contribute my opinion, discuss
a problem and even joke around with my coworkers.

Overall, I’m glad I chose to intern at a start-up because it has been the most memorable and eye-opening
experience for me. The supportive environment, exposure to the different aspects of the business and
unique culture are just some of the things I’ve come to appreciate and miss about working at Coins.ph. It’s
shown me the great potential technology has to disrupt and reform current systems.

More importantly, it’s shown me what passion, determination and hard work can create. In the short
time that I worked with Coins.ph, I was inspired to think differently, work smart and act responsibly.

Looking back and watching the somewhat unique send-off video my coworkers made for me, I know I wouldn’t change a single thing about my experience in Coins.ph. I’ve learned how to spot fake IDs, answer
customer support calls, gather food like an expert and so much more.

Without a doubt, Coins.ph was a better way to spend my summer. YouthHack will offer the fellowship program next summer. To stay up-to date with applications for the next batch of fellows, like its Facebook page:
www.facebook.com/YouthHackMNL.

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TAGS: Coin.ph, summer internship, Youth Hack
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