Befriending Discomfort

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One Wednesday afternoon, I sat in my Data Structures course, yearning to be anywhere except there. That’s when I noticed a message in the YSU Penguin Hackers Slack channel about an interesting internship opportunity.  On a whim, I decided to apply to dive in and try to gain some job experience.

From the very beginning, challenges arose. My webcam wouldn’t function, leaving me to interview with only a microphone and an animated gif of a Dalek for Flashstarts CEO, Charles Stack, and Director of Business Development, Alayna Klco to watch.  Nevertheless, the interview went smoothly, and we decided that it’d be a great fit.

This kind of learning through unexpected failure and improvisational perseverance seem to be an integral part of startup culture. I wasn’t sure what lay ahead in this new journey when I began working at Flashstarts. On the first day, there were general introductions and orientation. But soon after that, we were thrown into the deep end.  Barely acquainted with our surroundings, the horde of interns had to head out of the safe StartMart areas into the wild jungles of Cleveland. We pushed against our discomfort as we conducted market research talking to random strangers throughout various Cleveland venues.

That set the pace for the rest of my internship experience. From then on, Flashstarts has remained a fast-paced work environment with the constant juggling of priorities and fine-tuning of our schedules to meet the deadlines becoming a part of our daily routines.

Although I originally signed up to be a software development intern, the work I’ve been assigned is nothing like I expected. Different teams can have vastly differing priorities. Because of this, I’ve been thrown into market research, potential partnerships, and even figuring out the particulars of preserving and storing a wedding dress. This diverse array of work has helped me develop a more balanced skill set, giving me a better perspective on not just what I’m good at, but what I can be good at.

One of my favorite parts about working at Flashstarts is the different people you’re given the opportunity to work with.  The kinds of intern vary drastically from jack-of-all-trades hustlers to interns who are very skilled in one field, whether that’s software development or financial development.

Being in such a diverse group of interns means that there is always a plethora of knowledge to be shared.  There’s always the chance someone may be able to see a problem from a different perspective, or assist you in resolving a bug in your code that you’ve been dealing with for hours.  

Although I’m still in the early stages of this internship, I feel that I’ve met many great people and forged even greater friendships.  These experiences with the “Flashstarts family” are not only beneficial for my future career, but more importantly have allowed me to see problems in ways I would never have thought of before.

I anticipate many more opportunities that will keep me on my toes throughout the summer. Befriending discomfort has become a key part of my work; although it wasn’t exactly in the job description, I’m happy to say that it is one of the most rewarding parts of my time at Flashstarts.

In other words:

Embrace curiosity, befriend discomfort.

Trevor Henshaw is a Computer Science major at Youngstown State University. He currently works as a Software Development Intern at Flashstarts.

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