The Emancipation of Nick the Intern

By Paul Teshima in Leadership

Nick joined us in September 2014, he is a graduate of Crescent High School. He was referred to us by a friend of a team member, and since Steve and I were hiring developers with 15+ years experience, we wanted to give someone a chance to learn in a startup environment.

“Startups all have to ‘bet on people’, so while you are hiring the best, make sure you take a chance on an up-and-comer as well.”

From day one, Nick made an impression on us. Not just because he was a whole generation and a half younger than us – which was fascinating (especially when trying to get him a beer at the bar), but because he was a smart, thoughtful guy, who didn’t mind putting out his opinions on the table. And unlike many of us with strong opinions, he was fine with letting them go if they didn’t fit.

Nick quickly got into the somewhat cynical and sarcastic banter that we all had adopted, but often brought in fresh perspectives that were both humorous and insightful:

NickHaughton “I don’t believe in coins.  I just don’t use them.”

Nick started out fixing bugs, and coding some small projects in backend management interfaces, but soon progressed to doing larger and larger projects. It was pretty incredible to see how quickly he developed his coding skills, late nights and youthful energy seemed to fuel his fire. But the key was his willingness to try things, make mistakes and ask questions. Today Nick plays a critical part of our front-end development team (dare I say “full-stack”), helping drive user engagement and adoption.

In one more week, Nick is going to take the summer off, and then head to University of Waterloo to take Physics. I am not sure the university appreciates what a fantastic new student they are getting. He is also wise-beyond-his-years:

NickHaughton “Overly happy people are so annoying. Shut up. Calm Down.”

I asked Nick a few questions, to see what being an intern at a startup is like:

PT: What does your mobile homescreen look like?

Slack for iOS Upload

[PT: So definitely some of the apps I would expect: Snapchat, other messaging apps – but what’s with the blank row? And 10,114 emails unread?]

Nick: I have a blank row because I only usually look at the top 75% of the screen. [PT: decided not to probe further]

Nick: I have 10,000+ unread emails because I have had that email for nearly 8 years now. I am a data hoarder and never delete anything unless I have to. I haven’t seen any of my friends use wolfram, I’ve always really liked the application.

PT: How did you learn to code?

Nick: I got started coding when I was 12/13, I made a small application in VB. Shortly after I ported it to Java so it could be cross-platform.

PT: What did you enjoy the most while interning?

Nick: The thing I liked most at Nudge was how open and willing to answer questions everyone is. I also really appreciate the faith people had in me – they were willing to take risks in order to let me learn.

PT: What did you learn?

Nick: I learned a lot technically. I started with zero front-end knowledge, I can now look at the main page of Nudge and see my contributions. It is both satisfying and scary to know that clients will be using the features I developed. [PT: users please do not be scared]

Nick: I think most importantly, I learnt what it’s like to actually work for a software company. Before Nudge I had absolutely no idea what developing software professionally would be like. This has alleviated a lot of the worries I originally had. [PT: Nick worries about a lot. He once told me the pass-around birthday card was the most stressful thing he has ever done]

PT: What would you tell other people thinking about internship?

Nick: I would tell other students to work hard and learn harder [PT: love this] in an intern position, the expectation of the position is to learn. Don’t be too afraid to ask questions.

PT: Why not stay and just continue working?

Nick: For a few months I didn’t intend on going at all. I am excited to now, I think it will be great to be learning cool things around like minded people. I picked a program with co-op so I hope to be working at some interesting places.

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Nick the team at Nudge wishes you well, you have done some incredible work, helped the business grow, and most importantly made some great friends.

Paul Teshima
CEO and Co-founder