What it’s like to intern at Pythian

Posted in: Pythian Life

About eight months ago I started working as a Global Talent Acquisition Intern here at Pythian. It was my first co-op work placement, and my first experience in a professional work setting. I had never done anything like it before and was definitely nervous yet excited for the opportunity. As any eager but nervous person, I researched as much as I could to prepare myself for what I’d be doing. I distinctly remember searching on the Internet; What does an intern do?” and was a little unnerved by some of the results that I came across. Being an intern couldn’t be that bad now could it? Surely what I was reading was a collection of misconceptions—people wouldn’t lie and exaggerate things on the Internet now would they? After having worked at Pythian for this long, I can finally put those misconceptions to rest and reveal firsthand what it’s really like to be an intern—well, here at Pythian at least.

“You don’t get to choose the people you work with.”

I worked as an intern in Talent Acquisition, the functional department within Human Resources whose main task is to acquire and retain the most important resource for Pythian; its people. Working in TA, I got see exactly what Pythian meant when it said it hires only the top 5%. For a company that hires talent from all around the world, it takes a special group of people who understand the complexities of knowing not only where to look, but also who to look for in order to hire the right person. As a result, not only are the people being hired exceptionally talented across a vast spectrum of technologies, but the team doing the hiring, Talent Acquisition itself, is amazingly talented at what they do (they even won an award for it this year!).

Whether you’re an intern or a regular employee, there is one thing that both have in common, and it’s that you don’t get to choose the people you work with. As soon as I walked through the doors of the TA office, I knew that I was in good hands. My colleagues respected me and treated me as one of them from the get-go and sometimes even came to me for advice and assistance. It was humbling and a true reflection of the type of people who work at Pythian. I never once was treated like an intern, nor did I ever feel like one. There were no coffee runs that I had to do and there was never a situation where I had to push papers all day. This was nothing like what my Google searches had led me to believe.

“What do I know? I’m only an intern!”

Speaking of pushing papers all day and running coffee errands, many people often get the impression that working as an intern means having to do the work that no one else wants to do. In other words, an intern is simply there to do the mundane. That may be true for internships elsewhere but here at Pythian, the work I was doing was far from mundane—it was both challenging and quite interesting. There were times where I couldn’t believe what I was asked to do. Not because I didn’t want to do it, but because I couldn’t conceive why something so important was being given to me to figure out. What do I know? I’m only an intern! Within the first week I found myself working on projects whose impact would be felt by the entire team. I wasn’t being given work for the sake of work to keep me busy, rather, the work I was doing had a sense of tangibility to it. I was able to see the impact before, during and after and each time I knew that what I was doing was truly going to make a difference in the end.

True to their nature, internships allow for lots of opportunities when it comes to learning. Everywhere you turn in Pythian there is something to learn and someone willing to teach. As a Commerce student, there is only so much you can learn about organizations and how they operate just by sitting in a lecture. At Pythian, I got to experience it. Each and every day I was learning something new, something that I didn’t know before. I had the opportunity to really see the inner workings of a successful organization and understand how all the pieces of the company worked together towards a common purpose. There were also opportunities to participate in workshops with other co-op students on topics that ranged from business acumen to time management. These workshops concluded with a final session where each of us got to present some of the things we had been working on in front of our managers and supervisors. This experience was one of the many highlights of my time at Pythian, as it was a great way to interact and learn from other students like myself.

“Get comfortable at being uncomfortable.”

If there is one thing that I could tell future co-op students or interns here at Pythian it is to not be afraid to leave your comfort zone. Pythian’s CEO at the time, Andrew Waitman, said it best when he said, “get comfortable at being uncomfortable.” When given an opportunity to do something you haven’t done before, don’t think about whether or not you can do it—just go for it. You’ll be surprised what you are capable of when you get past that feeling of uncertainty and doubt. Making mistakes is inevitable, but it is also a necessary step in order to learn and grow. Always ask questions and have an open mind in everything that you do. When all is said and done, you will leave Pythian smarter, more confident, and more prepared for anything that comes your way.

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