Trainee blog 1: How do I know what I need to know?

Our Business trainee Hong Bui will be writing a blog, giving her insight on her internship with Aalto Startup Center and sharing her experience!

Two weeks after my application, I received a call from Tiina Kossila, Business Advisor at Aalto Startup Center, informing me the next steps in the recruitment process. It was a joyful moment when I finally knew I would officially join Aalto Startup Center as a Business Trainee.

My job description was attractive, admittedly. The work involves me in matched activities with my studies in Entrepreneurship: evaluation startups’ application process, financial planning, and marketing strategies of active startups. Such a big catch for any fresh-graduated student like me to gain field experience at an innovative environment! However, my big question is how or what exactly I can expect to learn through this traineeship? Here is how I find my answers: 

First goal to learn: How to navigate in a new team when working remotely?  

Navigation is one of the trained skills, not natural capabilities. From my perspective, learning how to navigate starts from how to catch signals and interpret them into insights used for decision-making. This bare understanding has fortunately equipped me with a proactive attitude in any new job to figure my role and contribution possibilities. However, proactiveness during this remote working time is not completely adequate to achieve my goals of gaining experiences. Sourcing inputs at the new team is key, I realized.  It demands a two-way and supportive communication between a newcomer and existing members.  

How delightful that when reaching out, I was warmly welcomed by 1-on-1 meetings with not only one, but all team members to help me understand their own work, happy moments, and honest needs for an extra-hand. These close discussions guided me to spot each member’s role and, most importantly, map out their expert area where I can learn from or can be of help. Each conversation is a give-take moment and means a great deal for me, as a learner navigating my journey, and for experienced members, who can spice up and reflect their ideas with a newly different perspective. I deem this proactiveness to positioning input resources would assist me not only in getting to know the team, but also in navigating any new tasks I execute.    

  • My reflection for startups: when there is a new employee, take the time to fully onboard them. When it isdone virtually; it takes effort and time from all members of the team.
    Teams should not view newcomers as intruders but embrace their fresh perspective and view.  

Second goal to learn: How to ask the right questions?  

This point was brought up during my discussion about ‘How to interpret customers’ signals to build a competitive go-to-market strategy?’. Yet which questions should a startup ask their current or potential customers to get feedback on their products and services?  

Questions are often raised when there is a gap between how a product/service is perceived and how it should be perceived. In most cases, it is a hunch that we lead questions to what we want to hear, not something we need to. Like startups, I recognized proposing the right questions is essential, in any situations. 

Being narrative and straightforward will surely help, like telling a story. For instance, if I want to learn about startups’ finance planning, I will firstly reach out to our Business Advisors specialized in funding and finance and ask: “What should I do if I have needs to learn?”. Straightforwardness always draws open sharing, and the kindness of help will positively follow.  

  • My reflection for startups:Questions do not only benefit one individual who seeks answers, but they are also great deal for the ones who reflect their own experience and knowledge on the asked questions. As a result, being straightforward and narrative when asking questions will open untouched discussion, get closer to the audience in your own perspective, and help to unfold misconceptions.  

Third target: How to scout opportunities within a limited time?  

At Aalto Startup Center, I luckily learned that help will always be offered whenever you ask for it. Using constrained resources to optimize opportunities is a tricky matter, but it is not when extra hands are given. For me, scouting opportunities during a limited traineeship time means how much I could learn and which new fields I can explore. This is an intriguing manner: if I never try, I will never know whether it is a right or wrong one for me. It means that if questions are never asked and network contacts are cold, it will become an endless and miserable cycle that hinders any of my opportunities to grow. Usual exposure is key to position myself both as a learner who looks for help and as an active player in the value chain. Doing this way, I aim to learn more, execute more, and fail quickly so that the iteration process will be meaningful for any coming opportunities. 

  • My reflection for startups:Aalto Startup Center has a complete picture of experts that can help any startup to grow. All actions needed are reaching out, warming the conversations of an active topic at your startup, and let the discussion conclude with extended contacts and a next call time. Being exposed does not mean to be harmed, but to be interactive and actionable. An on-demand advisory service will never be a waste if it is the right one at the right time, I learned. 

To be honest, entering any new environment takes time and energy It is with new people and an unfamiliar culture of work and human interaction that you will soon define as your teammates; not to mention if your goals are not only to collaborate but also to gain benefits. For me, on-boarding and working with a team only gets effortless when motivation is aided with valuable and relevant support. Here at Aalto Startup Center, I asked myself what I can expect to learn through this traineeship, and I already found the answers within my first days with the team. It is to explore the powerful support I am handed, not the exact answers I can get. This is: how I know what I need to know.  

Business trainee at Aalto Startup Center