Introducing WayUp’s Top Intern of 2021 – Maria Sitkovets

Maximilian Vanegas
Introducing WayUp’s Top Intern of 2021 – Maria Sitkovets
Sponsored by, WayUp

At WayUp, we’ve helped a wide variety of young professionals land everything from internships to executive roles, in every industry you can imagine. From biotechnology to engineering, we’ve seen it all, on every tier of the platform. Over the years of helping these young professionals and current students find jobs, we have become quite humbled about how impressive they keep on getting. This being the case, we decided to make a list of the Top 100 Interns to celebrate the accolades of these fine individuals

Using a long list of criteria and a well-researched points system, we created a scoring mechanism to help rank potential candidates. This mechanism takes into account things just as academic success, professional prowess, ingenuity, and more. 

This year, after reviewing an incredibly talented list of individuals we finally chose our winner for the top intern of 2021 – Maria Sitkovets of York University. We recently caught up with Maria to gain some more insight into how she grew herself to become such a well-established professional and to provide you with some information on how to be truly exceptional as well. 

WU: How/why did you choose York University – Lassonde School of Engineering?

MS: Honestly, choosing York University was essentially the only option I thought I had at the time because I didn’t have the money to go anywhere else. Money is something my family never had so I knew that going away to school or even applying to many schools (which coincidentally, also costs a lot of money) wasn’t in the cards for me. York was close to home and I felt comfortable with applying to it because my older sibling also went there. I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to have any post-secondary education at all and York was a great choice for me to do it at because our Engineering department is so new and creative in how they teach us. 

WU: Why did you choose to major in Computer Science?

MS: Actually, I didn’t! When I applied to university I was sure that I would major in Biology and only signed up for two Bio-related majors and the general Engineering major because I had to apply for three. I ended up deciding to go into Engineering because I thought it was more challenging and creative rather than following a prescriptive path like I thought I would be if I studied Biology. But in my first month of school, I attended a party thrown by Shopify in the Engineering building on campus and found out about the new program we had called the Shopify Dev Degree. The only catch was that you had to be in Computer Science to do it. So after applying, going through the interview process, and eventually getting the offer, I ended up having to switch my major in my second semester. It was 100% the right choice for me because Computer Science is something I have come to love so much. I love the theory courses I take at school and I love the hands-on software development that I get to do at Shopify. I never pictured myself in this field but now I can’t wait to spend my career learning and exploring more of it. 

WU: How did you land your internships at Twitch and Shopify?

MS: Well now you know how I found out about Shopify but I honestly don’t know how I got in. I think they saw “potential” in me (even though I basically knew nothing at the time). As for Twitch, I wrote a whole Medium article about the entire interview process but that was again more by chance. I found out that some of my friends who were looking for internships had done the coding assessment from Twitch and they had all told me about how much fun it was compared to the other ones they’d seen. I was really jealous of them and wanted to try it out so I applied to the internship program to see if I could also do it. And somehow someone thought I also had potential and I got a recruiter call and things went on from there!

WU: Having 2 internships this summer is very impressive – how did you stay organized and focused while managing both?

MS: I think my mom would call it crazy, actually. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone but for me, it felt like the right thing at the time and I don’t regret it at all so I must say something. Since my internship at Shopify is part-time all year round, I worked mornings at Shopify (8 am-12 pm) doing Data Engineering, and then since Twitch is on the west coast and I’m on the east coast I worked afternoons/evenings at Twitch (12:30 pm-8:30 pm) doing Software Engineering. I also took an anthropology course online that I did on the weekends. I think a lot of people were worried about me but it was mostly fine. I did get burned out for a few weeks in July because of the combination of work and some personal things but I think, overall, it wasn’t too bad. And I think what helped me stay organized was to take a lot of notes and make lists. 

WU: Have you had any mentors throughout your career? How has that person affected you?

MS: A lot of people have been my mentors. I look up to every teammate I have, every manager, every PM, every designer, and every intern I’ve come across. I think you can always learn something from someone else because everyone is always better than you at something. Some of the major mentors I’ve had have been the ones assigned to me in my internships because of how much time and effort they put into making sure I’m learning. I will still always hold my first mentor (Yuriy) as the standard of what a good mentor should be because I came into the internship as a baby and 8 months later I felt like an engineer. His goal for me was that by the end of those 8 months he should be able to say that he’d hire me as a full-time engineer and it literally made my heart explode when he said that I’d accomplished that goal. 

WU: What is your dream job?

MS: I think I’m still lost on that because I can’t even choose what I like between the product or the platform side of things. But the ideal job would be one where I get to use my nerdy love of networking and algorithms and software development (in programming languages that I like) all mixed together. But this is just a theory I have yet to try out so who knows what I’ll end up loving. 

WU: What advice do you have for other interns?

MS: I know working at companies with flashy names might sound nice but it shouldn’t be your end goal or what you aspire to do in life. Go places where you can learn. If something is intimidating, then sign up for it. Fail at things. Surpass your limits. But most importantly, have fun (however that looks like for you)! 

Setting the Example

Maria embodies what it means to be a phenomenal employee from one end of the spectrum to the other. We hope she serves as a symbol and an inspiration for you to be amazing as well. With a mentality and hunger like hers, anything is possible.

Congratulations Maria! We can’t wait to see what you do next. Keep an eye out for WayUp’s Top Internship competition to return in 2022!