My First 60 Days At A Startup

“You are going to go into the appearance editor and make the appropriate front-end styling changes to our sub-domain gallery, upload process, and multiviewer templates, in order to resemble the mockups provided in the client’s PSDs. Cool? Are you overwhelmed?”

This was how I was assigned my first project for a client on the second day as an Integration Engineer at Olapic. Overwhelmed? Just a tad!

While I attempted to decipher the technical and internal jargon of the task at hand, I did my best to look the project manager in the eye and say, “No sweat!”. I quickly turned away and began frantically scrambling to figure out how to complete the assignment.

My first two months as an Integration Engineer have been defined by moments where I have been presented with tasks where I had minimal experience and context. Initially, I found these situations to be daunting and unsettling. Now that I look back and reflect, I am glad I was exposed to  these situations in which I had to push through and deliver. Through these sink or swim moments, I learned skills that perhaps I would not have considered otherwise. From database queries using SQL, manipulating PHP code, to editing and preparing clients’ Photoshop files, the first two months of this new position has broadened my skills outside of my more familiar front-end web development knowledge.

One great lesson that I took away from my time at Startup Institute that has been reinforced at Olapic is that when stepping out of a comfort zone, one should try to focus on the valuable experience that WILL be gained, despite the pressure of performing and possibility of failure. It is uncomfortable to constantly be placed in situations where you feel that you are fighting above your weight; but I am finding that if there is a promise of learning and growth as a result, it encourages me to take on these new challenges. It helps me keep my cool before seemingly overwhelming tasks.

I think Marissa Mayer says it best: “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.


Steven Ocampo is currently an Interaction Engineer at Olapic. He is also an alum of the inaugural class of Startup Institute New York. Say hello to him on Twitter @stevenocampo26.