Meet PayPal Canada’s Summer Interns
From May to August each year, hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students across the globe participate in PayPal’s immersive summer internship program—which spans a variety of disciplines from marketing, engineering to data analytics, user experience design and more. In our Toronto office this year, we had an all-women star cast of interns – Olivia Li, Sumran Rafiz and Alka Bhide. From developing new skills to building a network and navigating a corporate environment—learn what it’s like to intern at PayPal Canada from our interns in Toronto who concluded their program on August 31.
Olivia Li: When I was 12 and living in China, I decided to study abroad. I love Canada because of its open and friendly culture. I went to Vancouver for my high school when I was 16 and after that spent four years studying accounting at Rotman, University of Toronto. This year, I led a team of four girls in a business case competition sponsored by PayPal. After three rounds of evaluation, our team won out of 120 participating teams. 
Sumran Rafiz: I moved to Toronto from Shanghai, China for my undergraduate program at the University of Toronto majoring in Economics and Statistical Sciences. Being a TCK (Third Culture Kid)*, I found Toronto’s multicultural environment appealing and welcoming. These aspects of the city are directly reflected in PayPal Canada’s work culture which added value to my internship experience.
Alka Bhide: My mom and her family are from Canada and I wanted a chance to move here so I applied to the University of Toronto and got in. I’m heading into my third year of university and working towards a double major in Economics and Public Policy with a minor in theatre. Last summer, I took a course at Oxford University, so I’ve had the chance to study in England as well. 
How did you hear about PayPal Canada’s internship program?
Olivia: I entered a PayPal business case challenge that was Ontario-wide for university students. The reward for the winning team was an internship at PayPal Canada. I was honoured to be picked from an all-girls winning team to become a summer intern at PayPal Canada. 
Sumran and Alka: from the University of Toronto Careers page.
What project/s did you work on during your summer internship?
Olivia: I interned with the Merchant Marketing team to help launch the refreshed Business Resource Centre. During my internship, I initiated and worked on a new vertical business case that I had proposed to PayPal Canada during the case competition. 
  • Audited and analyzed PayPal global SMB marketing projects. Helped improve Canadian small business marketing publication content volume.
  • Conducted market research and competitive analysis from an SEO perspective for the development of PayPal Canada’s small and medium business strategy and customer value proposition.
  • Assisted the Partner Marketing Lead by creating marketing designs.
  • Assisted the Strategy and Commercial Growth Manager by analyzing marketplaces and growth potential across four major industries.
  • Formulated business case to demonstrate strategic potential from a new vertical. Negotiated with senior managers and the President of PayPal Canada to secure an executive sponsor and resource buy-in. Led business case project, built a consensus with external partners and cross-functional teams.  
Sumran: I interned with the Consumer Marketing team as an analyst and was involved in a number of projects. Throughout my time with PayPal, I also had the opportunity to work with the growth and strategy team to help them develop strategic plans to penetrate new industry verticals and also to improve average transactions per user.  
  • Analyzed quantitative and qualitative data from SEO/SEM and other digital marketing campaigns to develop various maps highlighting marketing and PayPal product knowledge gaps in the Canadian market.
  • Presented a SWOT analysis on the Canadian PayPal market to the US team highlighting the differences and similarities between Canadian and American PayPal users.
  • Performed a cost-benefit analysis of removing all the keywords from AdWords that do not result in new customer acquisitions and estimated the total percentage of the online advertising budget saved for the year.
Alka: I was fortunate enough to work on a lot of different projects. I was a QA intern, so I focused on a variety of user experience projects that helped me learn more about how improvements to the PayPal experience are imagined, researched, created, and implemented.
  • One of my favorite projects was competitor research. It allowed me to understand why the PayPal brand is unique and why it stands out amongst its competitors. It helped me understand the industry as a whole and to suggest new ideas for future PayPal ventures.
  • Analyzed qualitative research by listening to comments made by PayPal merchants regarding possible new changes.
  • Data analysis regarding different financial services offerings to see how PayPal could keep innovating and stay current.
  • Worked with the California team on a project regarding exchange rates which was fascinating as a student of economics.
  • Worked with the Head of Legal and Government Relations to learn how to draft a letter to the Canadian government.
What do you like most about your work and the time spent with the PayPal Canada team?
Alka: I loved the encouragement I got from everyone I had the chance to work with. Within a few days of my internship, I realized how committed everyone at PayPal was to create meaningful learning opportunities for interns, as opposed to just assigning us busy work. I got a chance to learn something new from everyone I worked with, whether it was a research project, data analysis or even coding. I truly cherish the opportunity to learn from the PayPal Canada team.
Sumran: I really admired the autonomy I was given on all my projects. It was empowering. The sense of independence given to me by my manager gave me a lot of confidence as it indicated that she placed her trust and confidence in my abilities to get the work done efficiently. I also had the opportunity to interact with everyone on the PayPal Canada team and they took the time to explain what they did and how they helped their customers.
Olivia: I was inspired by the leadership style and the emphasis on gender empowerment and equality. As an intern, I was able to book one-on-one meeting with the President of PayPal Canada to share and discuss my insights. He respected me and supported my ideas. A great deal of my confidence of achieving consensus with an external partner is because of this positive, encouraging and supportive leadership style. I had an exponential learning curve during my internship at PayPal.  
What was your biggest learning and how do you plan to apply it in your next job?
Sumran: Don’t be afraid to speak up and share your point of view even if you are the least experienced person in the room. Being around more experienced people shouldn’t stop one from expressing their thoughts. Often people want to hear fresh ideas from our generation.
Don’t underestimate or undervalue yourself because you don’t know something – it’s okay to not know things as long as you put the effort to learn and ask questions. I remember being really lost with all the technical jargon and abbreviations used during team meetings. Everyone was more than willing to explain the concepts or terms to me, but I had to be proactive and ask for help. I also learned to champion my own growth and that made my internship experience even more valuable.
Alka: My biggest learning experience was how to work with different sets of people. Everyone has different styles of collaboration, so it’s important to adapt to what each individual person expects. This is a skill that’s applicable to almost any job opportunity, and I hope to use my new interpersonal skills for even more successful collaboration in the future.
Olivia: Working for various teams at the beginning of my internship let me see the organization as a whole. I realized that constant communication, establishing trust and reaching goal-congruence across various functional teams are the keys to succeeding in a project. I always made sure to keep everyone on the same page and to align their motivations. As a result, by the time my business case project begins, the members who are involved were already on the same page and geared up for it. 
What are some of your hobbies and passion projects outside of work and school?
Sumran: I love being in nature and engaging in outdoor activities like hiking, canoeing or kayaking. I enjoy the challenge of learning new skills. During my internship, I learned Excel VBA and basic SQL programming in my free time.
Alka: I am an avid reader and loved the work-life balance at PayPal which allowed me to get a chance to check off books on my reading list – the entire Game of Thrones series among others. And I completed the Level 7 Voice program this summer with the Royal Conservatory of Music graduating with first class honours.  
Olivia: Yoga and hiking are my favourite activities because I can meditate at the same time. I am devoted to helping people who are suffering from depression. With the help and support from one of my colleagues at PayPal, I was given the opportunity to connect with CAMH to discuss my ideas. I believe that life is more meaningful if we can help others find their passion, their dreams and goals, and help them succeed.  
Do you have any advice for the next batch of interns to make the most of their programs?
Sumran: Find out who's doing interesting work in different teams and ask or figure out how you can help. Be proactive, curious, and resourceful.
Alka: Make the most of your time. Everyone you work with is incredibly knowledgeable about the business and their areas of specialization. Try and get a chance to work with everyone and learn from them. They are a fun team and great to chat with during breaks beyond work-related topics.
Olivia: Work with various teams, talk to as many people as you can and learn from their experience. Establish connection and build trust with them. Think outside the box. See things from other’s perspective. Bring in value by demonstrating how you can help others to achieve their goals and targets. 
Thank you, Olivia, Sumran and Alka for joining us for the summer and helping our teams with a broad range of projects.
*Third Culture Kid, a term coined by US sociologist Ruth Hill Useem in the 1950s for children who spend their formative years in places that are not their parents' homeland.

PayPal Canada 

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