June 23, 2017

Anastasia & Kevin: Cracking the code at Toast

Walking into the Toast office in the Landmark Center near Fenway, the energy of the software company’s staff is immediately apparent. A group of young employees are hanging out near the reception area, which they fondly refer to as “the living room,” adjacent to the kitchen where there are a variety of snacks and where cold brew coffee flows from the tap. There’s even a swing set. But don’t let the jovial atmosphere fool you into thinking it’s all fun and games at the rapidly growing company.

Working at Toast for the summer has given PIC student Anastasia plenty to chew on, and not just when it comes to the snacks. Her PIC-brokered internship landed her on the quality assurance team, the individuals responsible for testing whether new features and updates to the Toast app are compatible with the existing code. For the recent Boston Latin School graduate who is heading to Harvard University this fall to study computer science, it’s a perfect fit.

“I really like the work and find it fun to do. It doesn’t feel like I’m working, but more like I’m doing something that I enjoy,” says Anastasia. Working on the tight knit QA team has made Anastasia realize that there’s more to working on an app than coding. Communication and working with people play a large role, as the team must regularly correspond with others in the organization to ensure proper testing and results.

Heading into her internship, Anastasia knew she wanted to do something with computers, but her time at Toast has helped her figure out what kind of environment she prefers. “This experience has confirmed that I want to do something with computer technology, but I don’t just want to be stuck in a room all day coding. I want to be actively working on something creative in an environment that reflects that.”

Stas, the test automation team lead at Toast, was Anastasia’s supervisor this summer. At first, Stas was surprised by her high level of motivation and eagerness to learn at such a young age. For him, the most rewarding part of the summer experience was watching her grow. “It’s been fun to watch someone go from a very structured environment like high school to the workplace, which can be very ambiguous,” he says. “I knew the one experience I wanted to give Anastasia was working in a real, adult environment. At first she was really uncomfortable with that, but now she loves it and embraces it.”

Kevin, a recent graduate of Boston Latin Academy, also interned on the QA team at Toast this summer. He’s headed to MIT as a computer science and engineering major this fall. Like Anastasia, Kevin already had a direction in mind entering the summer, but his experience at Toast helped him zero in on a specific area of computer technology.

“I came into this experience knowing that I wanted to do something with computers, but now I can see the end goal,” says Kevin. “Once one of the QA tools that we use wasn’t working on my laptop, so I walked over to a developer and he typed in a bunch of commands. All of a sudden everything was working again, and I thought to myself, ‘I don’t know exactly what he just did, but I want to do that’.”

Kevin’s supervisor Katie works as a quality assurance engineer at Toast. The added capacity Kevin brought to their small team didn’t go unnoticed. “It’s been great to host Kevin. He’s been extremely helpful in getting everything done, especially with it being summer and people going in and out on vacation.”

This was Katie’s first time supervising a high school student, and Kevin’s ability to jump right in came as a surprise. “On day one, Kevin was doing work with me. I could give him something to do while I was working on something else and he would do it correctly. It was like any college-level intern or even a full-time employee starting out here on their first day.”  

This isn’t Kevin’s first job—he worked as an IT intern at Santander last summer. When he thinks about his two PIC internships, it’s the opportunity to explore that stands out the most. “I’m only 18 and I’ve already tried two different work environments, so I think summer jobs are important to figure out what fits best for you. I feel like they can really help you figure out what you want to do in college or what job you want to get.”

Though the summer is over, both Kevin and Anastasia say they would love to come back to work for Toast as college interns. It seems the feeling is mutual. “If we could just hire them and they could not go to college, that would be great,” Katie jokes.


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