What A Co-op at Usful Will Do to You
4 months + great people = a better perspective on workplace
This summer-sixteen saw an addition of 4 to the Usful squad. After an intensive search for Usful’s new co-op students, we found Alika, Mark, Zhi Rui, and Carol. Here’s the breakdown:
Full-time HR and Team Glue
Seneca College — Business Administration and Human Resources
“Loved being able to implement stuff on my own!”
Full-time Developer and Shoeless Advocate
Identifies as Waterloo (Currently at U of T) — Combined JD/MBA Program
“I LOVE LLAMAS.”
Full-time Developer and Existentialist
Waterloo — Computer Science
“I am the Usful Mascot.”
Part-time blogger and Pillow Hugger
U of T — Industrial Engineering
“Why do we have no vacant bathrooms?”
Q: Where are you most likely to be found in the Usful House?
A: Room 0 or 1, at a standing desk, with my Mac hooked up to power
M: At the Harry Potter desk (which is the computer under the stairs), hugging a pillow
Z: In Room 3, using a double screen
C: Rummaging through the kitchen or diving into the Urban Cultivator for snacks, hugging the other pillow
Interns found Usful and their jobs through different means. Both Alika and Zhi Rui applied through their schools (Seneca and Waterloo respectively) whereas Carol met them at a career fair in Toronto. The funniest hire by far was Mark, who doesn’t remember applying but received a development screener via email, which he completed and sent in for review. This screener landed him the position which he then took, still oblivious to his initial application.
Transitioning onto the team was more universal. The first day consisted of a brief meeting with some members of the team (namely Clinton and Kofi) as well as a one-on-one on-boarding to the Usful house and assigned MacBook. All the interns remarked that they started working promptly afterwards. The autonomy within Usful allowed the transition to be short and smooth, giving the interns a chance to work on day one. The team was very supportive with the transitions and pitched in to help when needed.
M: Mecha and Clint started walking around without shoes and really promoted the ‘let down your hair’ atmosphere.
A: It felt unconventional, but relaxed.
Over the past 4 months, each co-op completed lots of projects and learned a lot from Usful. Some of the memorable experiences are shown below:
ALIKA — Applying knowledge from education to the real world
Exemplified by her experience with coordinating a recruitment trip to Waterloo and candidate follow through, Alika was able to go through the application of her human resources skills attained from Seneca education. In addition, she ventured a daily pilates class and other team wellness activities (like pole-dancing!) all throughout the summer.
MARK — Reflecting internally based on the Usful interactions
Through his interactions with senior management at Usful, Mark found much to admire and strive towards in his colleagues. A quote from is last day of work: “I sometimes ask myself ‘What Would Rhea Do? WWRD.’”.
ZHI RUI— Working with driven individuals towards a goal
By actually experiencing the startup lifestyle, it opened Zhi Rui to a better understanding of a good team manifestation. Leaving with more comprehension of responsibility in a team where no two roles overlap, Usful truly gave him the opportunity to interact with people in all levels and all roles.
CAROL — Engaging with external parties/the Toronto startup community to showcase Usful
Working in a startup during its growth stage and documenting the process allowed Carol to fully understand the inner workings of a small but productive company. It also gave her a chance to practice client-facing skills in writing with guidance from more experienced squad members.
Q: Any last comments?
M: Leave stuff on high shelves, people don’t usually see it till later. Also, take advantage of the kitchen appliances.
A: You have the flexibility to do anything you want
Z: Trust that other people will get their work done.
C: Kofi will catch you lip-syncing, so keep that in mind if you decide to jam out to a song.
After spending a summer with Usful, all 4 students commented on how working at the company gave them a better understanding of how a team should work together. Flat team structure, increased interactions, and tailored roles are only a few things that Usful has to experience. With a better understanding of sustainability and self-wellness, each co-op is now inspired to live a happier and more productive lifestyle. Leaving with the knowledge of how their individuals strengths can contribute to a team, we wish them the best in their future endeavours and hope to affect others in the same way with our Usful projects.
For more information visit www.usful.co or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org