James Morrison Klein, a fifth-year information science major, recently returned from a six-month international co-op in France, where he gained valuable experience and confidence as a software developer at a startup called Copass.
Based in Paris, Copass is a global membership network that grants users access to more than 256 independent co-working spaces in 42 different countries with one single account. “Copassers” can use the space for as long as they need, whether that is a day or a month, and get the perks of a social experience.
“By American standards, Copass is a startup,” Klein explained, noting that the company has partnered with Airbnb to help travelers find accommodations. “It was a very tightknit team with only five employees, including myself, and I really enjoyed the freedom that came with working with a startup as self-sufficient yet successful as Copass.”
As a software developer for the startup, Klein built web applications from scratch and maintained the company’s current software. A trusted member of the small team, his responsibilities often extended beyond programming; he was frequently involved in everything from discussing long-range business decisions to offering input on helping the office run effectively on a daily basis. “There were a huge slew of things beyond the programming,” he said.
Klein also became well versed in agile software development, which promotes adaptive planning, continuous improvement, and emphasizes quick response to changing requirements. “Agile development is huge in the United States now because startups need quick prototyping,” Klein said. “There were times where I’d come in and need to learn a new framework and programming language in one day.”
Thankfully, Klein found a supportive mentor at Copass, who helped guide him through the new assignments. This encouragement not only helped him become a more effective independent worker, but it also boosted his confidence by instilling in him the belief that there was nothing he couldn’t do. “It was extremely empowering, from a technical perspective, and I’m extremely confident in my abilities since returning from the co-op.”
His experiential learning opportunity at Copass built on his co-op with Hercules Technology Growth Capital, a venture capital firm in Palo Alto, California, where he programmed internal software for client management.
The new skills he learned at Copass will come in handy in the classroom and in his career, said Klein, noting that both his co-op employers have discussed the possibility of hiring him as a full-time employee after graduation.