In so many ways, the whole of this summer has proven so much greater than the parts which compose it. Nonetheless, I’ll try to exact justice in demystifying tales of the last four months from the magic that intertwines them.
Just weeks before I started, I had finished my second year of an Applied Math Engineering degree at Queen’s University. As an engineer, I valued greatly the technical skills implicit in the data science internship I was about to begin. At the same time, I knew my aspirations included a desire to develop technology with applications to business, social impact, and innovation. However, I didn’t yet know how well-suited my next four months would be.
Working on the Klick Labs team, Klick Health’s internal hub for digital innovation, seemed to be a fit better than I could have hoped for. Within moments of working here, it became clear that Klick’s best fit for me, is their people. Within these walls, the term ‘company’ becomes synonymous with, if not altogether replaced, by the more powerful: ‘community’. Every day, the building pulses with a shared culture, which when understood, echos that its existence is impossible as a second thought. It is a culture which can only be nurtured and built from the very beginning.
When I started working here as an intern, I was shocked at how fast the word Klickster rose to the top of my vocabulary. Taking a break with my fellow Klickster coworkers to make guacamole at first seemed surreal, but I was soon bottling an avant-garde hot sauce concoction like it was my day job (and funny enough, it kind of was!). Complete Klickster self-identification comes with a realization; that these uber-successful community events are expressions of a shared identity, not the source. They are thriving vital signs of an organization upheld by its people, of which you are now invariably one.
These community events drive forward Klick’s ‘work hard, play hard’ culture, with many fostering a sense of passion for client work and journeys of personal growth. From the experience of my peers, at a typical internship or co-op, it’s common to receive work along the periphery of major projects, providing you with a vantage point to the work of professionals you one day hope to emulate. At this point, I hope it is well understood that Klick doesn’t craft experiences that can be defined as ‘typical’.
On my second day, the work that came across my desk was a project I could never have imagined. One that distinctly read ‘peripheries not included’. It was an opportunity to break ground on an international data science challenge, using machine learning to predict the blood glucose level of individuals with Type 1 diabetes. I invite you to re-read this last sentence and submit your best estimate on how close my jaw was to the floor! It was a feeling almost comparable to the sense of purpose I attained upon discovering a second page of self-brew coffee options in the Klick Cafe (spoiler: most coffees on this page gleefully start with the term “Choco-”).
As the challenge grew in relevance and submission deadlines loomed ever-closer, more members of the Klick Labs team got involved, including Peter and Gaurav, two of Klick’s resident data scientists. Every moment spent at work grew increasingly with a sense of purpose and curiosity, as we pieced together the academic paper which would be our submission. Even during the latest nights spent working, our craft stayed true to the air of comradery that permeates the building during the regular workday. It was the feeling of absolute ownership, of accountability, and that our work was ours to bring to fruition.
This immense feeling of empowerment defined my entire summer. Only in hindsight do I realize the master plan that my managers had employed. From the beginning, they kept their focus not on who I was walking through their door, but who I could be walking out. They set a high bar, in an environment that encouraged me to take risks, make mistakes, and to find success as it was defined on my own terms.
The stage was set, yet it would have been a poor performance were it not for the other players: My co-workers, who were only too ecstatic to offer their help, mentorship, and support. Beyond this, they pushed my own boundaries, asking for my own thoughts on their problems and challenges, and engaging me in conversations meant to ideate and innovate around their hurdles? Their certainty that I had something of value to offer worked to affirm my own confidence, allowing me to find my professional niche.
The approach to growth which encapsulated my internship is a mere subset of Klick’s fluidity, an innate organization-wide ability to adapt to budding opportunity. How else could my inherently desk-bound position give way to travel to Sweden, to present our academic paper at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence. This too, led to presentations to internal tech departments, detailing our problem-solving approach from a deep learning perspective. Needless to say, my expectations of a summer intern experience were less surpassed than they were completely atomized.
Yet, for a summer intern, all things must come to an end. As I look forward to my third year at Queen’s, I can’t help but be astonished by the skills and experience I’ve gained. What I’ll miss most about Klick are the intangibles. Noticing how often laughter fills the room during team meetings and conversations with co-workers, which leave you to return to your desk with a smile on your face. It’s clear to me that any magic that exists lies in the connective tissue of this community. It’s a culture shared between each person who calls themselves a Klickster, a name which I am proud to wear.