A brief description of how everything began
Hello my name is Calum Hrabi and as a student at the University of Waterloo I am obliged to find internships every four months for our co-op terms. This summer (2023) I was fortunate enough to be placed at Kablamo Canada as a Front-End Engineering Intern. From the very beginning it was evident that working at Kablamo was going to be an unforgettable co-op experience. This is because it was obvious from the very start that Kablamo was a place where I could learn a deep technical knowledge while gaining lifelong connections with amazing people along the way.
Of course, the work at Kablamo is at the heart of the company. I was asked to work on the main financial technology project here in Canada. And, although I would like to elaborate on what Kablamo is doing for their client, I will let others reveal the surprise when it is done.
I will concentrate on what I did and learned from working on the team. Although I have already had some experience in Typescript and React-Native from previous co-ops I had very little experience in a structured front-end team. Right from the first day it was evident that this was going to be a good team to learn in and hone my front-end skills. Within the first meeting with my Tech Mentor (Taz) I was able to get my environment setup and ready to go (which as most developers know is easier said than done). Taz and Will then gave me some small tasks so I could familiarize myself with the application. After swiftly completing these tasks my mentors were confident that I could work on larger and more complex tickets, eventually working my way up to a full sprint load by my second sprint.
Their faith in me and all other members of the team from most junior to most senior was what made the work so enjoyable. I was trusted throughout the co-op to work on important tasks that I wanted to work on and not just constrained to doing the “grunt work” for the front-end team. While I had significant responsibility, there was an understanding that I was not only there to work but also learn - which I certainly did!
In particular, the peer review/pull request (PR) process allowed me to become a much better developer. From the start it was explained to me that it was completely fine and even good to have reviews on my code. This gave me the "permission" to learn and improve without feeling like I was doing a bad job. I was encouraged to review other team member’s code which allowed me to see other more experienced styles of coding and gain insights on different approaches to the same problem. I learned so much and by the end of the co-op I felt as though my ability in React-Native and Typescript had skyrocketed.
However, what I really think made my time at Kablamo special is its people.
I can’t tell you how amazing this Kablamo Canada team is to work with. I had the luxury of soaking up so much knowledge from these incredibly talented individuals. I was able to do this in large part because of “team office Thursdays” as well as the many social events throughout my co-op. This term there were many Kablamo socials including project milestone celebrations, welcome lunches for the many new hires, and the Kablamo Summit. Some of these events included Axe throwing, a scavenger hunt around downtown Toronto, and even a Blue Jays game. These team building activities allowed me to get to know this wonderful group of people and improved the way I communicate with the team when working. Something very special about these activities was the time I got to spend with both of Kablamo’s co-CEOs - Allan and Angus. It was a unique experience as an intern to be able to have casual conversations with the head of the company and learn about the history and vision for the future of Kablamo from the very top (also they are just fun guys to be around).
The other part of Kablamo that I love is the tech and crew mentorship program. When you join Kablamo you are given a “tech mentor” and a “crew mentor”. A tech mentor is the person that can answer all your technical related questions as well as guide you and give feedback on how you can improve your technical ability while at Kablamo. My tech mentor, Taz, is a Senior Front-End Engineer on the same project as me, and was the best mentor anyone could ask for. He was patient, but also believed in me to do well and reach higher. If it wasn’t for him I would not have learned as much as I did this co-op. A crew mentor is your contact for all things outside of technical topics, such as career growth, or job enjoyment. Mine was Jack, an ex front-end developer who is now in a non-developer role on the project. Jack was so helpful throughout my semester as he got me comfortable with the work environment, introduced me to many different people in Kablamo, and just checked up on me periodically throughout my term to make sure I was doing well. These mentors made my experience at Kablamo so much better and I think the mentorship program is one of the main reasons why Kablamo is such a great environment to work in.
In short... I believe that my work was good and made better, because of the people who supported me along the way. Thanks to each of you... until we meet again.