4 Steps to a Successful Co-op at Outschool

by Winter 2024 Co-ops and Interns


In this guide, we’ll uncover the four key steps to not just surviving, but thriving at your Outschool co-op. From acing the interview process, to immersing yourself in company culture and making meaningful contributions to projects, we’ll equip you with the knowledge and strategies you need to seize the opportunities that come your way.

Step 1 - Hiring Process

The first step in your journey as a co-op student at Outschool starts with finding the role that fits your skills and interests. You can find open Outschool co-op positions in your university’s career portal or by visiting the Outschool Careers site.

Hiring Process

The recruitment process moves quickly. You can expect to be contacted for an interview within one week from the day you applied. Outschool understands that you are a student struggling with balancing exams, assignment deadlines and co-op search, so they make their best efforts to be flexible in scheduling a time for your interview. Additionally, you will be given instructions on the structure of the interview to assist you in the preparation.

The interview process for a co-op candidate is quite similar for different roles and is divided in two parts:

  1. The first part is 60 minutes long and it aims to test your knowledge and skills.
    • If you’re applying for a Data Science or Analytics position the first 30 minutes will either be questions about your data experience or your business acumen through a case study. One common skill required for both of these roles is a good understanding of SQL, tested with live tasks in the second half of this part of the interview.
    • For a Software Engineer co-op position the interview will be conducted by a Senior Software Engineer. After a discussion about background, technical expertise and technologies related to the role, you will be tasked with coding challenges that you might encounter on the job. For example, a co-op position for a Mobile Engineer might be tasked with programming a specific functionality for a button. The session concludes with an opportunity for you to ask questions about the company and the specific team you would be joining.
  2. The second part of the interview for all candidates, lasts 30 minutes and involves a conversation with an Engineering Manager or a Senior Engineer. This segment is dedicated to discussing your prior experience and projects. You should also be prepared to address a variety of behavioral questions concerning conflict resolution, collaboration, and other aspects of teamwork.

Outschool is not only evaluating if you are a good fit for the company, but also whether the company is a good fit in your overall career goals. In fact, the company has an outstanding commitment to their mission and values and you can see their people-first philosophy in action, not just through the interview process but in the work as well.

Step 2 - Overcoming Early Challenges

Now that you’ve made it past the whirlwind of interviews and finally accepted an offer with Outschool, congratulations and welcome to the next step! Onboarding can be a lot to take in and the transition period is an exciting but potentially challenging phase.


Here are some insights and recommendations from our current Data Analyst/Scientist and Engineer co-ops on their personal journeys of adjustment, learning, and growth in their roles and how to navigate through these early challenges.

Challenges in Data Science

The initial challenges with onboarding and settling into the work environment you might run into are firstly learning where things are and secondly knowing who to ask for access. Learning to work with data in an academic setting and in the scope of a personal project can be very different from working in industry since the data is generated in-house, and you will have to learn the overall structure and relations and be able to query your own data. One recommendation is to scour the dbt documentation and look at the underlying code to understand where columns are coming from. Analytics Office Hours is also a great resource for both SQL and Looker assistance, and we’d recommend bringing a query to review or prepare questions on the tables or features you need clarity on.

In terms of general early challenges, depending on your past experience and background there may be an adjustment period in how you approach your work. The priorities in personal or academic projects tend to encourage technical complexity and performance, but aren’t aligned with practical considerations that include the end use case of the work and the business context for any insights derived. Not only that, it’s important your work is accessible and often opting for a less technically complex method or model can be necessary to slightly sacrifice performance for explainability. Navigating these initial phases can feel overwhelming, but being challenged is a natural part of the learning process and growth. We encourage you to embrace these experiences as opportunities in an environment where you have the guidance and support of your mentors.

Challenges in Engineering

Getting familiar with the codebase early on is a challenging task to face. Reading documentation can definitely give you a good high level idea of the codebase, but to really understand the practical details the best way is simply searching things up in the code. Use your IDE, search for other instances of the terms you find: functions, files, components, even use regular expressions to search for specific patterns. If you follow through on your searches and investigate, you’ll start learning everything you need to know, like where things are defined, where things live, etc. You’ll start building an understanding of the codebase in no time.

Here are a few tips about the development workflow, specifically about merge requests. Before reviewing any merge requests you should definitely read up on some guides. Outschool has a great document on Notion listing guidelines for branching and merge requests, and there’s also this super useful engineering practices document from the engineers at Google. With that aside, reviewing your teammate’s code is one of the best ways to learn and improve, so as a student you should take the opportunity to ask lots of questions during the code review process. In terms of making a merge request, you should always keep the reviewer in mind and try to make their job easier. This means giving a good but brief summary of your changes when they aren’t obvious. It’s very helpful to provide specific test cases with easy to follow instructions and concrete examples where possible.

Step 3 - Making the Most of Your Time Here: Embracing Outschool’s Vibrant Company Culture

At Outschool, there is a huge emphasis in fostering a dynamic and inclusive company culture that empowers every individual to challenge themselves and succeed. Here are some tips to make the most out of your time here:


Connecting with Colleagues: Take the initiative to reach out and connect with colleagues on your team and across the organization over Slack or on a video call. This can help you build meaningful relationships with your peers, enhance teamwork, and foster a supportive work environment.

Conferences: Expand your network by participating in Outschool conferences and events. These gatherings offer an array of opportunities, from engaging in team-building activities to attending talks and gaining insights into industry trends. They provide an invaluable platform to forge connections, exchange experiences, and fully immerse yourself in the ed-tech industry.

Weekly 1:1s: Schedule weekly 1:1s with your mentor and/or supervisor to talk about your work, career aspirations and receive valuable feedback.

Guilds: Join specialized guilds tailored to your interests and expertise, where you’ll collaborate with like-minded individuals, share insights, and contribute to meaningful projects that drive the company forward. These guilds not only foster a sense of community but also serve as excellent avenues for mentorship. Engaging with guild members allows you to learn from their experiences, ask questions, and learn about topics that interest you.

Pair Programming: Reach out to your peers for collaboration whenever you need assistance or expertise on a task. We use Zoom or Tuple to share our screen and work on a problem together. Joining forces to tackle challenges and brainstorm solutions can significantly enhance problem-solving effectiveness.

Get Engaged: Take an active role during team meetings and group discussions by contributing your ideas and collaborating with your peers. While it may initially feel intimidating to speak up, remember that your unique perspective and insights are valuable contributions to the team’s success. Embrace the opportunity to share your thoughts, ask questions, and engage with your colleagues. It’s through these interactions that meaningful connections are forged and professional relationships are cultivated.

Step 4 - Navigating Outschool Projects: Insights from our Co-op Students

Throughout your co-op experience at Outschool, you’ll encounter an array of projects that offer a unique opportunity to contribute, innovate, and make a meaningful impact within our dynamic organization. Let’s explore some of the projects Outschool’s Spring 2024 co-ops worked on.

Mobile, Retention, and Experimentation

Amy - Enrollments and Supply Pod

Hey, I’m Amy and I am currently a candidate for a Masters in Data Science at the University of San Francisco. Part of the program features a matching program that pairs companies in industry and students to intern for most of the academic year. I was lucky enough to join the Data Science team at Outschool and have gotten the opportunity to work on projects like ad-hoc analyses on the mobile app and retention, experimentation, and I’m currently supporting a product launch this June! The work so far has been incredibly engaging and I’m grateful to my mentors and the data team for their feedback and guidance.

My first project was doing a deep dive into the mobile app. Since we don’t actively advertise the mobile app to our users or on the platform, we wanted to assess the app’s impact and identify any differences for users who did use the app. By presenting our results at the weekly debrief to company stakeholders, we not only impacted the engineers working on the mobile app but the decision to further experiment with and possibly market the app moving forward as well. I worked on something similar for retention as well, performing ad-hoc analysis on user retention with the goal of finding indicators for long term retention and spending from early behavior. The end use case of this work was to inform and guide decisions as well as metrics to focus for future planning. These initial projects were a great way to get started and comfortable with navigating the data environment with real impact and use cases.

I was also able to gain experience with discount and pricing experiments, applying A/B testing in experiment design, and evaluating experiment results. This was a valuable experience in applying knowledge from the classroom to industry since experimentation is a key tool for any Data Scientist to utilize.

Currently, I’m working on supporting an exciting product launch this June with predictive modeling and recommendations. The work at Outschool has not only been engaging, but also rewarding with the excellent teams and people I’ve been able to work with. I’ve been honored to be a part of the process.

Dbt and Historical Bookability

Hitasha - Infrastructure Pod

Hi! My name is Hitasha and I am a Master’s in Applied Data Science student at the University of Victoria. I started my journey at Outschool as a Data Analytics Co-op in the Infrastructure Pod and, later on, as a Data Analyst Co-op in the Business and Operations team. As a person involved with data at Outschool, you will be working in making data accessible to other users through dbt.

My initial tasks were focused on dbt maintenance which consisted of adding descriptions to models, writing tests for all important models to ensure that the data is in the correct format and also making some small fixes and adjustments. The starting phase and the tasks assigned to me were helpful in getting a better understanding on how dbt works and what is Outschool’s data about.

One project I am proud of is integrating the new 1-on-1 type of activities in the bookability definition of educators. This helped more than 200 educators on the platform to receive a badge and improve their visibility.

My major project at Outschool consisted of implementing the historical bookability models which assess what sections were available on a given point-in-time. It was a completely new experience consisting in drafting the project plan, implementing every single model involved and computing interesting metrics from this data to help in Supply shaping. This is definitely the project where I have learned the most and felt like I made a positive contribution to the company!

Syllabus Project

Nathan - Discovery Pod

Hello, I’m Nathan, I’m a 4th year Software Engineering student at the University of Victoria. I’m part of the Discovery Pod. Our team is responsible for everything to do with searching for classes and helping users find classes that match their needs. We own a lot of highly visible surface areas on the site, like pages for creating, displaying and recommending classes.

The first major project I worked on is called Syllabus. This project is concerned with offering teachers a more structured and standardized way of communicating what topics their course covers so that parents can more easily understand what a course is all about. I worked with other devs on the frontend development for the syllabus as well as creating the GraphQL resolvers to manage all the data involved. My main focus was on the Syllabus creation workflow, but I did code reviews and worked with my teammates on all the rest of the project as well. I worked on this project from when the tech spec and designs were mostly finalized up to its release, over the course of about six weeks.

A Syllabus on the class details page

A Syllabus on the class details page.

The syllabus edit page

The syllabus edit page.

A/B Testing for Growth

Sejal - Growth Pod

Hi there, I’m Sejal, a 4th year Software Engineering student from the University of Victoria. I am a proud member of the Growth Team and my journey here has been incredible! From bug fixes to feature development, our team is the driving force behind boosting new buyer engagement and sign-ups on the Outschool platform.

During my time here, I was a part of the experiments workstream where we crafted A/B tests to uncover the best user interfaces and experiences that keep parents and learners coming back for more. I didn’t have any experience with A/B testing before, but I had an incredible amount of support and help from all of my team. I got to create different experiments that tested different layouts for class pages, worked with parent dashboards, and so much more! Every day brought a new challenge and a fresh opportunity to learn.

Furthermore, I had the opportunity to delve into data analysis. We examined metrics like new buyer rates, sign-up rates, and session data to analyze the outcomes of each experiment. Seeing concrete results from our work was incredibly rewarding and confirmed the positive impact we were making on the Outschool platform.

Core Mobile Features on Outschool App

Zafir - Learning Experiences Pod

Hi y’all! I’m Zafir, a 4th year Computer Engineering student at the University of Waterloo. I’m part of the Learning Experience Pod (Mobile) as an Android Software Engineer intern! Our team focuses on building a learning experience that drives engagement and retention through the experiences of learners in the classroom.

Throughout this co-op term, I have been a part of a lot of exciting yet very challenging projects from my team. My initial project was implementing Tablet/Chromebook support of our entire android application through the use of grid layouts. This prevents the irrelevant stretch of some of our app components and overall enhances the UI/UX of our product as the majority of our learners use Outschool in a wider screen format. Aside from that, I worked on a few features of adding class recordings for ongoing classes and made our new addition of self-paced classes searchable and enrollable in our marketplace.

With a lot of warm guidance, support and encouragement from my mentor and other team members, I recently added the functionality of being able to pause enrolled classes within class management. This has been the most difficult project up to this point as it contained multiple edge cases of dealing with dates and formatting our input correctly to make GraphQL calls to our backend. My final project for the term will be revamping the Learner Class Navigation experience and I am super pumped for that!

Key Takeaways

Embarking on a co-op journey at Outschool offers university students a transformative experience filled with learning, challenges, and growth. The key to success lies in being prepared for the interview process, overcoming early challenges, embracing the vibrant company culture, and navigating through impactful projects. By prioritizing networking, mentorship, and collaborative problem-solving, co-op students can not only thrive professionally but also make meaningful contributions to Outschool’s innovative educational platform. Outschool offers a vibrant learning environment where co-op students can truly thrive and are empowered to embrace challenges and contribute to the future of educational technology.

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About the Author

Winter 2024 Co-ops and Interns

Amy Cho, Hitasha Ghai, Nathan Tutak, Sejal Agarwal, Zafir Raeid