Working at a technology company has been a far cry from work experience of the past. There have been a plethora of intern blogs written over the last few years: discussing all the incredible experiences, the beauty of working in Taiwan, the thrill of the tech world and the difficulties in settling into a new role, culture, and lifestyle. For many interns here at VIA, it’s often their first ‘proper’ job. The experience of being given legitimate responsibilities for the first time can be a daunting one, learning how not to be useless and how to write in the ‘company voice’. My own experience may differ from these slightly; from the first instance I have found that to be an Intern at VIA doesn’t just serve as a fantastic learning experience on a personal level but in fact holds up a mirror to the technological advancements in our ever-evolving industry.
A Collaborative Process
One of the pre-eminent lessons the technology industry has gleaned from decades of striking growth and staggering collapses is the vital nature of the collaborative process. Any budding Business Studies student will have been taught the tale of Nokia’s rise and fall and the impact that a lack of internal communication had on their organization. As the mobile phone market grew to incredible heights, Nokia were the undisputed kings, but ultimately failed to capitalize on the switch from button-based mobiles to touchscreen devices in the early 2000’s. This was often attributed to a silo mentality: an issue in which the creative process at an organization is stifled due to an absence of communication between the various departments, leading to decreased innovation, efficiency and, eventually, the company’s demise. From a technological view, each department acted as a closed system, greatly inhibiting possibilities.
At VIA, there’s a distinct emphasis on consistent collaboration. Naturally, both the English language and Mandarin marketing teams work together often, but the marketing team as a whole will often work with the sales team, engineering team, and the design team, providing valued input on product conception and cooperating with each other to successfully deliver it to market.
From an intern perspective, settling in (not just in a totally new team but an entirely new culture) is vital. We’re lucky to have a team invested in one another from the top down, whether that be going out to lunch together or exploring the natural beauty of Taiwan through hiking together.This close bond allows us to get the best out of each other in a working environment. Internally amongst the interns, comradery is inevitable; we frequently work together on presentations, are placed into accommodation with one another, and whatever you feel like doing (going out, embarking on an adventure, grabbing a boba tea) there will always be others happy to come along.
Similarly, technology functions best when it works together, which is why makers enjoy the level of freedom that broad compatibility allows, expanding capabilities and the scope of experiments that are possible. For instance, the VIA Pixetto can work together with an Arduino, a Raspberry Pi, a Micro:bit, or even an autonomous vehicle to push beyond the boundaries of what can be achieved with just the sensor. A closed system would distinctly limit the possibilities for creators; the synergetic interoperability of the VIA Pixetto is one of its defining strengths.
Fluidity and the Dangers of Growing Stale
Silo mentality is the antithesis to a successful culture of motivation and creative output, which is so essential to the continual evolution required of technology companies operating on the cutting edge. Being able to adopt incoming trends easily and experiment with these to push the boundaries of your work is another key aspect of working in the industry. By definition, technology must live in the new, the benchmark of societal advancement, utilizing fresh ideas in order to push forward industry (whether through improved safety or efficient performance).
Similarly, technology is mirrored by the VIA workplace. In many companies, the intern experience often involves sticking rigidly to precedents; not trying to deviate too much from established norms and what has been shown to succeed. At VIA, the team continually encourage one another to push the boundaries of what has come before you: a key maxim is that you’re not told what to do, you’re aided in doing what you want to do with your own talents. Play, within the workplace, can often find itself neutralized by rigid management. At VIA this is paramount. The VIA Pixetto community is one that thrives on creativity and the energy of students and makers; approaching work and marketing in the same way is essential to success.
Finally, a key aspect I always return to when looking at the workplace and technology itself is that, at its core, it is invariably exciting. As discussed regarding the ways of working, it is often intriguing whenever people present new ways of working and exhilarating when a plan you have laid out can come to fruition, adding a new dimension to the team. Being assigned to the VIA Pixetto team, I was initially apprehensive: I wasn’t an expert on AI so surely I would struggle to help market it? But after being demonstrated the fundamentals of the product, truly engaging yourself and figuring out how you can apply your own skillset, you realize the wealth of possibilities available for you to work with it, the breadth of potential functions. Suddenly, the proposition of working with this sophisticated technology becomes incredibly enticing.
Furthermore, getting to be a part of product conception, it is a thrilling experience to bear witness to new inventions which you never even thought possible a few short years ago, or to hear about the work our tech can do within schools, and how these programs or these devices can alter the way life people live their lives across the world.
Engagement is a critical part of success whilst using technology. The more engagement one has with the devices, the more they are able to get out of it. You can develop systemic thinking, learning the intricacies of the technology itself to open yourself up to the possibilities at your disposal. Like working life, the more time and research you put into each aspect, the greater the results.
It is often stated that the most important asset you can boast while looking for jobs is experience: the intern experience at VIA is one that can be incredibly rewarding. You’re operating in a role that will see you work with innovative products, working with marketing specialists who can imbue you with relevant skills and hone your own individual talents. Check out how to apply and help jumpstart your career.
Written by Stan Buckley, PR, Social Media Marketing and Marketing Communications intern at VIA and a Business Studies graduate from Lancaster University.