“Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience.”
Albert Einstein said this in reference to science, but it holds true when thinking of starting any sort of career. The truth is, if you’re a student or recent grad looking to kickstart a career, it’s almost impossible to get the experience you need to make yourself marketable for full-time positions if you haven’t had the opportunity to work in the field.
Even if you’re used to working remotely, there are still challenges that come with remote internships—socially, culturally and with the work itself. Heck, even choosing the right internship can be its own experience. So how do you do it right?
We chatted with four of our interns— Ben, Tiffany, Harrison and Kevin—to understand how they landed on Pinata as well as the challenges and opportunities they’ve experienced. Plus, their advice for fellow internship-seekers who want to build a career they’ll love.
How did you decide that you wanted to intern with Pinata?
Ben: I’ve been interested in web3 since 2019, having immersed myself by building mining computers, trying out various DeFi products and investments, and even buying a few NFTs for fun. My professional interests have always been at the cross section of data engineering and data science, so the fact that I would get to explore both over the course of the summer made Pinata a perfect fit.
Tiffany: I was doing tech sales before pivoting to computer software engineering. I did a boot camp to learn how to code, and Pinata was a chance for me to enter an entirely new world that I felt had a lot of potential.
Pinata was a chance for me to enter an entirely new world that I felt had a lot of potential.
Kevin: I've always wanted to work at a blockchain service specifically that incorporates strong culture, smart people and the ability to launch great crypto products. Those were the three main pillars I was looking for, and Pinata served all of them.
Harrison: Really, it was curiosity. I pursued software engineering so I could work on cool, interesting challenges. Looking at Pinata’s technology and what we do here with our CDN (Content Distribution Network) and serving people content using blockchain technology—I just felt that it was a great opportunity in a really interesting space. I'm very much of the mindset that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. Pinata seemed like a place where I could learn to love what I do.
- Find an internship that blends your personal and professional interests
- Follow your curiosity
- Never undervalue team fit and culture
What are you working on during your internship? What new skills are you developing?
Ben: I’ve been building data pipelines to aggregate Pinata’s data into a single warehouse and analyzing the data as requests come up. A lot of the work I’ve been doing has been to advance the broader strategic goal of Pinata becoming a more data driven organization. It’s really helped advance my data engineering skills, which is frankly a hard thing to learn in school. It's hard to teach these things in a course.
Tiffany: As a front end engineer I'm working on UX for both Pinata Cloud and Submarine. Visually, functionally, as well as making updates and tweaks to optimize the user journey has been a super interesting experience, especially taking into account the specific needs and considerations for web3 users.
Kevin: I’m on the Pinata Cloud product team, working closely with engineering and design to build and ship projects. I'm studying data science in school, which is more of an analytical role, but I've always wanted to be more on the building side. I've always envisioned myself as a PM (product manager), talking to users and being able to work on the front lines. So this internship has been a great opportunity to get that hands-on product experience that I’ve been looking for.
Harrison: I’ve been working on front-end software features for the main site, the app and also our analytics page for Linkable. It’s really cool to see something I helped build on this website that thousands of people use every day—to kind of see my work in the wild. Getting to go through that whole process of setting up a software service, deploying it and making it available was one of those theoretical skills from school that I got to practice here which has been invaluable.
It’s really cool to see something I helped build on this website that thousands of people use every day.
- Find a role that lets you turn your theoretical learning into practice.
- Don’t limit your internship opportunities to what you’ve studied in school.
- Find ways to tie your unique experiences into the field or focus that you are truly interested in.
What’s been unique about working remotely with a team? How have you been able to manage communication and collaboration?
Ben: What's unique about working with remote teams is that you get lots of “deep focus” time to really hone in on what you are working on. The tradeoff for that is you also have to make sure you take those extra steps to communicate with your team.
Tiffany: Flexibility. I'm used to working remotely, but this is definitely by far the most remote company I’ve worked with. I live on the West Coast and almost half of my team lives somewhere else in the world, so it's been a really interesting balance of Slack communication and being intentional about building relationships.
Pinata uses a Slack app called Donut which randomly pairs colleagues for a good old fashioned catch up. 🍩
Kevin: The ability to work remotely and learn from talented people from different backgrounds and different parts of the world. It also gives me the flexibility to work where I feel most productive and grow as an individual. In terms of communication, I always try to make sure to provide as much context when it comes to calls and work updates to make sure we’re always on the same page.
Harrison: Diversity, for sure. At the last couple places I've worked, 99% of the people at those companies were from the US, and even mostly from that specific area. At Pinata, you can be working with people who are in places like Ukraine, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. It’s been super fun having colleagues from so many different cultures and work styles, which I think is representative of how the future of work is and will be.
- Be intentional about connecting with your colleagues
- Take extra care to offer context and get on the same page with colleagues
- Find time for deep work to take advantage of the the remote nature of work
What are some of your long term career goals? How do you see your remote internship moving you towards them?
Ben: I worked as a data analyst for a while prior to Pinata, and I wanted to move more into a data scientist role which was my primary motivation for getting a graduate degree. This was my first official data scientist job, so I think this really felt like the next step in my “data career” with all the hands-on data work I’ve been a part of. This type of hybrid role is exactly what I was looking for in an internship.
Tiffany: Long term, I’m not exactly sure what I want to do. But I feel like every day, I'm learning something new. This role is definitely helping me become a better software engineer and get exposed to a new sector of the internet—one that I believe will continue to have a major impact on society.
Kevin: Right now I just want to work at companies and work for very smart people. I can gain a lot from that in the short term. Long term, we’ll see. But Pinata has really allowed me to understand how to work with different teams and ship products that people want to use—skills that are not just specifically tied to web3 or blockchain. Just being able to adapt in a startup has shown me how I can make my impact felt.
Just being able to adapt in a startup has shown me how I can make my impact felt.
Harrison: A big part of what I'm trying to do is find what makes me happy. What Pinata has allowed me to do is get work experience in this amazing industry and technology sector. There are a bunch of different routes, from product manager on the non technical side, to more technical roles like senior software engineer. Where Pinata has helped me the most is this introduction to this really awesome field, showing me what’s possible and some of the things I can hope to achieve.
- It’s OK and completely normal not to know exactly what you want from your future career.
- Learn as much as you can and expose yourself to new experiences.
- Find and nurture skills that are translatable to any industry.
Thanks to all of our amazing interns for their insights! To learn more about our amazing team members and their work at Pinata, check out our other People of Pinata profiles:
Meet Madison - Pinata’s Senior Product Manager
Meet Paulo - Pinata's Inventive Builder
Meet Lindsey - Pinata's Community Manager