Leading Growth at a Finance API Startup

Leading Growth at a Finance API Startup

Welcome back to the next instalment of Techintern.io's student showcase! Here, we will interview interns that we have helped connect with a placement to showcase some of their job experiences. By the end of the article, we hope you'll learn more about their background, their work, and the ways in which they were supported throughout the process.

Our interviewee for this week is Aaron Aftab! Aaron is a junior studying computer science and statistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We connected him with a product and growth internship at Alpaca, a startup that's developing an API based commission-free brokerage. He was one of our earliest applicants on the platform and applied in our August 2020 round, which led to him working at Alpaca during the Fall 2020 term.

What did you work on over the course of the internship and what did you get out of it?

Aaron was tasked with leading Alpaca’s university growth efforts, which primarily entailed forming partnerships with various U.S. and international universities, designing and conducting a trading competition, and conducting primary research for content creation. Although this was his first business development role, Aaron believed it was a great learning opportunity for someone interested in product-related roles as it provided insight into different areas of the company that he may have not otherwise had exposure to. Aaron also believed it was a great opportunity to learn about startup growth with a specific focus on universities and that the experience enabled him to clarify what he enjoys working on and what he believes he is best suited for.

How did you deliver value to the business?

Aaron was able to make an impact on Alpaca primarily through the trading competition, which was the main focus of the company’s university growth strategy. By utilizing various outreach strategies across multiple platforms, he was able to generate an increase of over 50% in participation. He found his experience with campus organizations to be particularly helpful, as it gave him a better initial understanding of the space and a stronger starting point to begin outreach. Aaron was also able to get involved with different content creation efforts to showcase Alpaca’s offerings and better tailor them for a university audience.

Anything specifically memorable from your internship? Any exciting stories to share?

Aaron found his internship experience to be unique through his ability to be involved with other areas of the business besides his main role as a result of the startup culture. For example, aside from university growth, he was also involved with the company's pricing efforts and how they planned on presenting themselves to investors and customers. Aaron also found it interesting to view outreach and marketing techniques from a company standpoint compared to what he had experienced as a student conducting outreach for campus-related activities. He was also excited by his opportunity to learn about the company's international efforts, specifically with regards to different investing attitudes around the world and the role of technology in enabling access to markets.

What support were you given in your role?

By applying through Techintern.io, Aaron was able to connect directly to the hiring manager, who he worked closely with during the internship. Right at the beginning when he had an initial call with the hiring manager, he was asked about his goals and what he was hoping to gain from the internship. He continued being in constant communication with his manager and stated his manager "was very receptive and very open about encouraging me to do things that I was interested in and would grow professionally from" He also stated there was consistent contact over Slack messaging and weekly calls that allowed him to feel supported in his role.


That completes our student showcase! To summarize:

  • Aaron worked at Alpaca as a business development intern
  • He was primarily tasked with leading university growth efforts, but was also able to get involved with various other aspects of the company due to the startup culture
  • He found the experience to be very valuable with regards to learning about startup growth and the breadth of business development initiatives

If you're interested in hiring talent like Aaron, we'd love to have you join us at Techintern.io! Our hiring rounds occur once a month, and we'd be happy to work with your company to connect you to our pool of highly talented students. Create your posting now at https://www.techintern.io/#onboard or feel free to reach out to kingsong@techintern.io if you have any questions.