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My Time With Financeit: 16 Months Of Growing With A Startup

ChrisCoOp

My name is Chris Sandison and I’ve been a Developer at Financeit since last May.

I’m a 22 year old U of T Computer Science student who took a job here for his co-op term. My counterpart in this adventure is Jon Erik, a 21 year old Computer Engineering student. At the time, Financeit was the only company I came across that was focusing on financial services and using the tools that interested me. This small company with big dreams promised that they would make good use out of me.  I wasn’t interested in another stale cube job writing documentation and playing email tag with fellow engineers. Financeit sounded interesting.

I arrived in what is now the old office – a small adelaide street loft where a small group of people were crammed into tables. I had only read up on the peer-to-peer lending history of the company so I was given a fast lesson on the company’s vision in the sales financing space. I could not have anticipated the kind of ride that I was in for.

They spared no time throwing us into the thick of it. After a short ramp-up period, we were among the ranks of the other developers, each with our own set of responsibilities that catered to our diverse set of specialties. They promised that there would never be a shortage of things to do – that there would always be new projects and features that were coming down the pipeline. After a year of plugging away and seeing all that has been accomplished it doesn’t appear that there is an end in site for things that this company wants to give the world.

While we got to put our hands all over the product, we grew to specialize in certain areas, and even built out our own features for the Financeit platform. Among the many day-to-day tasks that we had to take care of, Erik ran the vehicle registration automation, our Salesforce reporting integration and a revamp of the portal used by our Collections department. I lent my hand to our iOS application as well as Financeit Approvals. We both spent a lot of time working on a revamp of the web application that went live this past Spring, and have been recently helping out with the lofty list of requirements and process changes that are needed for our upcoming US launch.

Not only have I had the chance to work alongside some of the most talented and enjoyable mentors and problem solvers that I have ever met, but I have had the opportunity to hone my technical, communicative and problem solving skills myself. Doubling as developer and business analyst, I have learned what it means to own a process and see it through from inception, to completion and later maintenance and improvements. Having the opportunity to carry this type of responsibility is an experience that I never would have gotten out of school, and it is with a heavy heart that I have to return in the fall and be subject to my final eight months of the dance of academia.

So, I urge any students out there reading this to consider taking time away from the classroom to take part in a co-op.

First, ask yourself what you are looking to get out of your time off and what interests you most. Pick the direction that got you into what you are doing in the first place and follow it. When you are looking at places to work, do not just look at the type of work they are promising, but try to find out if this is the place where you will be a useful asset and will make the type of impact you are looking to make. Forget about the money. Forget about the office perks. Ask yourself if you would still want to work here without those. Take a good look at the people who are interviewing you and decide if these are the kind of people you are going to learn from. You will be faced with a new kind of responsibility, and will grow personally and professionally. If it all goes how you planned, you’ll know that you got into your industry for the right reasons.

With a taste of what the future may hold, maybe going back to school won’t be so bad.