Connector Flashlight: Hassaan Abbasi



April 28, 2022

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Connector Spotlight is a series where we shine a metaphorical light on Connectors to learn more about who they are, what they do, and what they like. While we have no shortage of star power to satisfy the series (just shy of 3 years worth, by my count), we also have some incredible interns who work here, too. And while it may not be a spotlight, we’d like to illuminate one intern in particular with a brand new, intern-centric series entitled Connector Flashlight. Easy-going, insatiably curious, and we’ll never forget your face when you found out what Project Rhubarb REALY was. Hassaan, we’ll miss you, but have little doubt you’re on your way to doing great things.

Tell us a bit about the projects you’re working on?

I’m currently working on a project with the codename Rhubarb. When I first saw that project name as I was being onboarded, I naively assumed that I would be working on some sort of tech product related to cooking. Although I ended up being wrong, I was pleasantly surprised as I was provided with the opportunity to work on a super cool retail demo project for a well-known social media giant. It blew my mind that an intern like myself would be given a chance to create positive retail experiences for a company that deals with billions of users.

What were some of the most exciting challenges you encountered?

Although I had previous Mobile Development work experience (cross-platform development using Xamarin), this co-op term was the first time I was tasked with developing features for a native Android environment. In fact, during the co-op term right before Connected, my primary focus was on data analysis with Python. Needless to say, it was quite the jump when I had to start picking up Android practices, Kotlin (a new language for me), AND Android Studio (a new IDE for me) on the fly. Although it was pretty challenging, I did a pretty good job learning how to learn things within the Android development environment. What really helped me during my internship was asking other Android-focused Connectors questions on how to do things. They were really kind when answering even my most basic of questions, and they made picking up an entirely new tech stack much less daunting!

Where do you hope to work after graduation, and why?

Honestly, I don’t really have a specific company or domain in mind. I just hope to work at a company that really values my growth as an engineer. As long as I’m learning something new every day and my fellow coworkers are supportive (kinda starting to sound like Connected here…), I’m good.

What achievement are you most proud of?

During my interviewing phase at Connected, I expressed interest in demoing a project at the weekly Demos presentation and asked if I would be given a chance to do that as an intern. Although Reece and Elli said that it could be possible, I never thought that I would actually be allowed to do so. However, they weren’t kidding, and an opportunity arose for me to present project Rhubarb to the rest of the Connected crew during demos. I’m happy that I proudly showcased the tech we were working on to over 150+ Connectors.

What’s your favourite quote?

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in” – Anonymous Greek Proverb.

I first heard this quote from a friend as we planted a tree sapling together. When I said that we wouldn’t see this tree be super tall until we were much older, he decided to randomly lay some philosophy on me. I laughed at him at the time, but it really is a nice quote.

What do you do outside of school?

I’ve started to take weight-lifting more seriously. Although I’ve been working out since freshman year of high school, I kinda stuck to using machines. Now I’m actively working towards a new workout goal, 1-2-3-4 (1 overhead plate press, 2 plate bench press, 3 plate squat, 4 plate deadlift). I’m also really into parkour! If you ever look up while in downtown Toronto, maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of me hopping across rooftops… just kidding. 😉

What are three takeaways from your time at Connected that you feel will benefit you most as you progress professionally?

One huge thing that I’ve learned is how to navigate around a huge monolithic codebase comfortably. I’ve had the rare opportunity as an intern to dive headfirst into an incredibly diverse and huge repository of code. After working with it, I know that I’ll be more comfortable the next time that I have to familiarize myself with a new codebase. I also got first-hand experience with one of the techniques from Connected’s playbook: Storyboarding. I got to sit down with another team on a different project and brainstorm ways that a user would want to interact with their product. That experience was eye-opening, as I saw how people in other roles view users as opposed to how engineers view users. I also regularly dropped in on the weekly Google Dev meetings throughout the co-op term. During those meetups, I learned from seasoned Android developers as they conducted Cross Project Code Reviews and Android Library Discussions. Connected really emphasizes their values of being teachers and learners, and I definitely learned a lot from the teachers at the Google Dev meetups.

Describe yourself in three words. 

Curious, excitable, and easy-going (I wonder if that counts as one word because of the hyphen…)

And finally, what’s your favourite product and why? 

These Rip Toned Wrist Straps (I apologize for the name). As someone whose sole source of income depends on tapping away on a keyboard, I like to keep my wrists safe when lifting heavy weights. The straps have made an enormous difference in how my wrists feel after working out. I definitely recommend them!

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