Part 3: From Silicon Valley to Asia

This essay is the third of four I wrote about my path towards tech companies and a way to introduce myself to the team at Shopify.

This second internship finally seemed to be the trigger giving me enough credits to make it to the tech world. I was able to start building an embryo of a network in the community, and the lessons I learned were invaluable when talking to potential future employers. I returned to the University of Ottawa and started getting involved in the startup community through the Entrepreneurs’ Club of my school.

There I wore many hats playing the “get stuff done” guy within the organization. I also did all I could to be a team player, and met lifelong friends. At this point in my life, all I was thinking about was going back to California and finally making it to Silicon Valley. Little did I know that five months later I would be on my way to the other side of the world. In my desperate quest to find a summer internship in March 2014, I applied to several positions at Rocket Internet. Rocket is pretty unknown in North America. Yet, it’s a flagship for Internet-related businesses in Europe with a lot of success (and failure!) stories and a well established brand. At that time, I remember applying to as many as six positions and here is the type of answers I received:

Cold, generic…rejections

However, I stayed on their “talents database”. After my second internship in California, I had updated my profile with my recently acquired experience, but most of all turned it into a “startup resume” focused more on the key results that I delivered and listed skills I gained that are particularly relevant to startups. After several attempts to make it to the tech world, including dozens of rejections, until one day:

I want to take one minute here to describe the feelings I had upon receiving this email. It relates a lot to training for a competition when you’re playing a sports at a high level: for years, you train, you struggle towards this one goal you want to achieve. Along the way, you get little wins that get you going after so many fails. A few times, you question everything and a few other times you realize there is nothing else you’d like to be doing. Well, this was the exact same thing. From visiting Silicon Valley at age 16 to getting an email from the most famous Internet Group in Europe, this was gold.

After working for seven months in Business Development, I’d say that the feeling I had at that time is also very similar to the one you have once, after weeks of talks and negotiations, you finally implement a partnership. I quickly answered and embarked into a very thorough and unusual interview process. In total, I had five interview rounds. When you have to present yourself to so many different people, it has a side effect of making you self-reflect on a lot of things about yourself: how you got there, why you actually want to work in this industry, why going to a continent you’ve never been to and far from everyone you know sounds appealing…All of this until this very one day:

After an explosion of joy, I emailed them back and two days later was buying my plane ticket for a seven-month adventure.

Sum up: When you have a goal, accept to twist how you think you will get there. From being rejected to being contacted for a job: it’s all about the hustle.

Interested in my life story? Here is the last part.