Why Wellframe co-ops come back
By Angelina Shalupova, Danny Tran, and Brian Yang
We took a deeper look at the co-op program here at Wellframe and spoke to some of our recent co-ops about their experiences. Several Wellframe co-ops come back to work full-time after graduating because of their positive experiences.
Get to know four of our full-time employees who came from our co-op program:
Get to know the former Wellframe co-ops
Major: Computer Science with a minor in math
Graduation year: Spring 2021
Co-op at Wellframe: Spring 2020
First thing I do on a workday: First thing I would typically do is the same whether I’m in the office or remote. I’ll just go on Slack, catch up on what’s happening, and then check my calendar for the day. I’m someone that likes to plan, so I want to see when I have meetings in order to plan out what I’m going to work on and when.
Hobbies: I feel like my hobbies have changed so much since quarantine. Lately, I’m really into reading, running, and also the usual Netflix + Hulu streaming binges.
What are you watching right now?
My favorite show at the moment is definitely an acquired taste but Money Heist.
Major: Computer Science with a concentration in cybersecurity
Graduation year: Spring 2020
Co-op at Wellframe: Fall 2019. I did one co-op previously, more cybersecurity and web app penetration testing focused.
How I found Wellframe: A current employee and former co-op was at the co-op job fair and convinced me to apply. Six months later, I was sitting next to him.
First thing I do on a workday: I only check the scrum board. I try not to check my email. It actually makes me unproductive because I’ll get distracted by some random e-mail and be like “Oh no I need to go look at this.” I just check the scrum board to see if I’m owing something to anyone, like a code review, make sure I’m not blocking anyone, and then I’ll pick up the next thing I want to work on. I also turn on Spotify discover weekly.
If I come into the office, I have my little ritual where I set up my keyboard and mouse, then I get some water.
Hobbies: I like hiking. I recently went to New Hampshire.
Major: Computer Science major with a music minor
Graduation year: December 2020
Co-op at Wellframe: Fall 2019, started working here March 2021
How I found Wellframe: I actually heard about Wellframe from one of my friends. He was like “Oh I’m on co-op at this great company, you should really apply to Wellframe, what they’re doing is awesome, working there is a great environment and a great learning experience.” I really loved their message of trying to help people with technology, which is also the main reason I wanted to do computer science. Everyone is there to help you learn, even in an interview setting. That’s pretty rare. Those qualities really spoke volumes to me and made me want to pursue a co-op experience at Wellframe.
First thing I do on a workday: I always check Slack. I don’t know why I just love Slack. I’d catch up on the previous night’s deployment and check my email to see if there are any new meetings. From there I usually make a cup of coffee to actually wake up. Then I see what’s on the scrum board and work from there.
Hobbies: I like being involved in music, so I’ve been trying to get back into playing violin. It’s not been super successful, I just keep being lazy after work. In addition to that, it’s just watching as many TV shows as possible, and now I’m starting to read books, but that’s a very recent development. Currently I’m reading Where the Crawdads Sing. That’s from Reese Witherspoon’s book club.
Major: Management information systems with a minor in business analytics
Graduation year: Spring 2021
Co-op at Wellframe: Spring 2021.
How I found Wellframe: I remember it was very hectic during my co-op search process. I was with kids who haven’t found a co-op from the previous cycle and also those who, like me, were on track looking for a co-op in the Spring. I specifically wanted a data analytics position. When I came across the co-op position at Wellframe, I thought it was fitting for what I wanted. I was also very impressed with the company’s culture, especially when I saw that it was awarded with Boston’s Best Place to Work.
First thing I do on a workday: I think the most important thing for me to do in the morning of a workday, or anyone really, would be to check the #wellframe-pets channel on Slack because I love pets and animals!
Hobbies: I really enjoy outdoors activities like biking around my neighborhood or hiking. When fall comes, I enjoy apple picking or going to pumpkin patches. Otherwise, I also love to binge watch something on Netflix.
What team are you on now? What does the team do?
Josh: I’m on the data pipelines team. We’re pretty independent of the rest of engineering. We work on processes that digest data that we receive from clients and also send data to clients.
Brian: All the dashboard engineering teams used to be named after pasta. I think we were Ripiena. Now, I’m on the care management team, where I add features and fix bugs on the care manager dashboard.
Nikita: As a co-op, I was on QA working on internal tooling for automation and demo. Now I’m on the care management team. The team switch was a combination of what I was interested in versus where there was an opening. Currently I’m working with the customers and delivering product features, which I like more. Feature work is a little more fast-paced than the QA engineering tools I was working on during my co-op.
Linda: I’m on the Data Science & Analytics team. Compared to the rest of the engineering teams, our team is pretty small—5 people. Our team works closely with Product, Customer Success Organization, and parts of the engineering team. We need to analyze data to answer business questions and give recommendations from our findings.
Why did you choose to come back to Wellframe as a full-time employee?
Josh: I’m someone who’s not super comfortable with change so I was very certain that I would end up going full time at a place where I co-oped. I just felt like Wellframe was very well-run and I was very comfortable working here. I thoroughly enjoyed my co-op experience. The technical services at Wellframe also felt more professional and designed to help the employees more than my other job experiences.
Brian: I think it’s mostly knowing what you’re getting yourself into: you know that you enjoy the environment, that you’ll learn a lot from the work, and that you can grow as a developer. That was all guaranteed at Wellframe, but with other companies, you don’t know what team you’re going to be on and what the environment is like. The offer was also very competitive.
Nikita: It’s very similar to why I chose it the first time. I really love the company culture. I love the company mission, and it’s just so inviting to come back to. When I accepted my co-op, I was really hopeful that all of these things would be true with the company culture and the work, and it all came true. I also appreciate that I know my voice is going to be heard, and I can work on things that I feel good about. I really lucked out with my first and only co-op.
Linda: I chose to come back to Wellframe because I really enjoyed my experience here as a co-op. The benefits for a full-time employee also seemed attractive to me. Wellframe’s award for Boston’s Best Place to Work is very telling! With Wellframe, I feel like my work can benefit society in meaningful ways. When I first started, I didn’t know about the many possible career paths within data engineering. My manager told me about all the different paths that I can go into, which helped me realize my interest in the field. I can see the meaningful impact that I can have doing the work that I’m doing now
How did the Wellframe co-ops program change?
Brian: There are definitely way more co-ops now. So I feel like it might be easier to make friends and fit in. If anything, the co-ops have gotten smarter. They’re definitely more motivated and have crushed a lot of tickets in such a short amount of time.
Nikita: I think I was one of 3 co-ops tops. One of them was actually Brian Yeung who is also a full-time employee now, but we were on different teams. One thing that Wellframe kept for the co-op program is how they are treated just like a full-time employee, being included in everyday responsibilities of a software engineer. I think that’s just really helpful for the co-ops. It’s a great way to learn, being part of the team.
Linda: When I did my co-op at Wellframe, it was completely virtual, which made it harder to get to know my teammates. The co-op class was also smaller, and I was the only one in the Data Analytics team. Now there are so many more co-ops and they can work in person!
How is being a full-time engineer different from being a Wellframe co-op
Josh: Day-to-day work, for the most part, is similar. I have many of the same responsibilities. I think Wellframe does a great job of treating co-ops like full-time employees. The one big difference is the data pipelines team does a lot of client work. There were some specific tasks I could not do as a co-op because co-ops have restricted access to some of the more sensitive data.
Brian: I actually think it’s really similar for me. I pretty much do the same things I would have done as a co-op. I’d say as a full-time engineer, we have more formal stuff, like your manager is more concerned about your career growth and your happiness in your role because you’re no longer a temporary employee.
Nikita: Honestly, I don’t really feel too much of a difference. The main difference I feel is just in the work I’m doing which comes from me switching teams. I’m treated the same and maybe have a little bit more work now, but beyond that, it feels fairly similar.
Linda: It doesn’t feel that much different for me. I asked my manager whether there’s anything I should be prepared for when transitioning to full-time. She told me that I’ve been treated like a full-timer the whole time I was a co-op so there’s really nothing to particularly prepare for. I think one thing I’ve noticed is that I am allowed to take on more responsibility like leading on some key projects.
How has Wellframe grown or changed?
Josh: The first thing I noticed when I came back was how many new employees there were. I was shocked to see so many new names and faces. There must have been around 50 new employees, which was crazy to me especially during the pandemic. Other than that, I feel like Wellframe is still pretty much the same company, and our values haven’t changed even as we continue to grow.
Brian: We’re slowly moving towards a more enterprise company, so it’s less start-up-like. We’re now writing out all these requirement documents and have all these meetings. With the new team structure, we’re siloing, and different engineers own different parts of the code. A year ago if you were a dashboard engineer, you pretty much owned the entire dashboard. Now that the system has grown much larger, it’s actually very hard for one engineer to know very much about any one component. Since each engineer can’t encompass the whole thing in their head, we need domain experts in each area. In that sense, it’s like the system is becoming too large for any one person, so you very much have to depend on a team. You can hire more engineers as the company grows, but if you don’t have the right kind of framework in place, then a lot of those engineers won’t be able to work effectively.
Nikita: It was kind of weird coming back full-time because so much changed while I was in school after co-op. I came back and there were a bunch of new faces and a bunch of new products. When I was a co-op, nothing about the future was concrete, and it was hard to have a clear vision of the company’s future. Now it seems like we’re taking concrete steps towards where we want to be in five years. It’s really nice to see how much we’ve grown and how we seem to have broken up the teams. You are responsible for your own part of the code and to make it the best. And then we put all those pieces together to build one cohesive product.
They do a good job of letting us know that they hear us and that they are always working on improving.
Linda: The teams have changed dramatically. We have a lot more Product people now. Data Analytics and Product work really closely with each other on really cool projects. I like that my team is working a lot more with other teams than when I first started. Now I feel much more involved in the company’s growth through these conversations. I also enjoy the many interactions I have with coworkers in the company. It’s a great way for me to get to know people outside of the engineering department.
Tip for future Wellframe co-ops:
Josh: There’s so much to gain by asking questions and there’s so much to lose by not asking questions. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re completely lost and trying to skate by. You really want to make the most of your opportunity and learn as much as you can.
One other thing I would say is don’t be afraid to voice what you want to be working on. Your managers are there to give you the best experience that you can get out of this opportunity. In one of my first meetings with my manager, I mentioned that I really like working on a big project so I can have a sense of ownership over something affecting our customers. So he put me in charge of this overhaul of one of the pipelines. That experience of having ownership over the rewrite and having full-time employees come to me with questions was a great experience and a great feeling. A lot of the time managers will just assign you work, but at Wellframe I feel like you have more agency.
Brian: If you want to learn a lot then you should put in your own effort to read through existing code and docs. At the point you join a company, there’s so much context that everyone else has, but you don’t. Onboarding only lasts a week, and they can only tell you so much because there’s a lot of minor details. I think the level of questioning matters. If you can get all the low-level stuff out of the way yourself, then you become way more effective because your time is spent on the challenging parts of the problem.
Nikita: I would say getting involved in anything, even if you can’t contribute to a project as much as you want; look at the code reviews, ask about it. If you want to learn about the product, no one will turn you away. I used to be afraid to take time out of their day if they’re busy, but I’ve learned here just from being full time, no one ever says no. The worst thing that can happen is that they will say “I’m busy now. Can we do it tomorrow?” So definitely feel free to jump into anywhere, even if it’s not your team. Everyone here is friendly so ask around and just learn as much as you can and whatever interests you.
Linda: Ask a lot of questions. No one is perfect, especially when they’re first starting out. It’s better to ask earlier than later. Don’t dig your own grave by not asking questions early on!