The Unexpected Things that I Learnt Working at a Tech Startup in Malaysia

By: Alyssa-Claire Filippi

My internship in a tech startup has completely changed my perspective of the working world. Having spent seven weeks working at an aggregator platform, I was immersed in a work environment which exercised flexibility and agility, as seen in many companies such as Google and Facebook. These work cultures have immensely increased in popularity and relevance due to the trends set by technological hubs such as Silicon Valley, hence creating an exciting hype around them. As my internship comes to an end, I felt it valuable to share the unexpected things that I have learnt over my seven-week journey.

This was the first time that I experienced scheduled, weekly one-on-one meetings with my manager. Not only were these important to receive direct feedback, but they also served as an opportunity for me to share feedback. As such, my manager and I fostered a collaborative and supportive work environment, where personal and professional growth would be possible for both parties. These meetings were also vital in setting expectations and deadlines for the week. From this, my week became highly productive and efficient as I was able to prioritise tasks. Lastly, having these one-on-one meetings broke down the invisible barriers between my manager and me, which leads me to my second point:

2. You should not be afraid of your manager

I have always had the perception that managers are supposed to be a daunting, authoritative figure. However, the combination of our weekly one-on-one meetings, along with the unique open office concept that I experienced made it easy to approach managers of all levels about any queries or concerns. I have found that my perception of managers has completely changed from the aforementioned to a supportive figure that is there to provide guidance and contribute to your growth experience as a young professional.

3. The power of an open office concept

The open office concept that is increasingly being implemented in various industries allows for a collaborative work environment with all team members. Ideas and suggestions are taken to the next level through the ease of input from other team members, hence generating higher quality output. This point is further enhanced when this open office concept takes place in a multicultural and diverse office environment, which I experienced, due to the varying perspectives. Multicultural and collaborative environments are also becoming highly pertinent in our increasingly globalised world.

4. Being confident with your decisions

As an intern, it is easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond due to your relative lack of experience and qualifications compared to your colleagues. I have personally struggled with being confident in my ideas and decisions because of this exact reason. But I quickly realized the importance of being confident with your own decisions, particularly when my managers trusted me with the execution of bigger and more ‘meaningful’ work that would directly produce results and make a difference to the company.

5. The importance of weekly team alignments

In line with executing agile working environments, two weekly team alignment meetings took place. The first occurred at the start of the week in order to share your plans and projects for the week, and the second occurred at the end of the week in order to share and track your progress. Not only did this allow for everyone to be on the same page about the projects occurring within the team, but it also allowed for unexpected collaborations, ideas and ameliorations to be made within the team, hence creating the highest quality of outputs.

6. The importance of team building

In my seven-week work experience, I was fortunate enough to take part in a team-building activity. The importance of this was particularly emphasized when my colleagues insisted on doing it when I was still working there. Getting to know each other outside of the work environment is what truly allowed us to form a closer bond, and therefore increased our approachability towards each other. As such, it was also easier to be fully transparent with each other about feedback when it came to the working environment, creating a more supportive environment.

7. Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are everything

During my internship, I was also fortunate enough to take part in an OKR planning session with my team. This established the overarching objectives and key results that the team had to work towards for the whole trimester. This all-day session was tedious but it was extremely worthwhile, as once this was established, all of the projects were aimed at working towards these. As such, all team members were working towards the same goals.



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