My invigorating ride as a summer intern at Blend

I am currently a full-time student at UC Berkeley majoring in Computer Science and Economics. When I was looking for summer internships, I wanted to work at a place that was small but growing fast, had a product that was a game-changer in its industry, and treated their interns the same way they treated full-times. I also have a keen interest in financial technology, and wanted to gain experience in the space. Blend met all the above criteria, so I decided to give it a shot, and so far it’s been an invigorating ride, waking up every day ready to build something even more awesome than the last.

Blend has an audacious goal of driving technological change in an astronomically large industry. Mortgages are very broken, very complex, and extremely valuable. Homes are the largest financial commitment most individuals make in their lives, and mortgages are what make home ownership possible. For homebuyers, Blend is improving the experience around applying for a loan, and the speed at which they can get approved for one. For lenders, Blend is building modern, easy-to-use tools that let employees spend their time helping customers, rather than on repetitive, manual tasks.

Blend is a powerful platform with a robust cloud-based architecture, paving the way for a greenfield in terms of future opportunities. Mortgages are also incredibly data-rich, so there’s a lot to leverage in the big data realm to improve consumer lending. Blend will also, soon, power other types of consumer loans outside of mortgages.

Bringing all these experiences to mobile is another step that Blend is working towards, with a first step being the recent launch of its lender app. The possibilities are endless! Blend has attracted the best and brightest engineers and financial industry experts that are combining forces to solve many of these problems. It’s inspiring to work for such a mission-driven company that’s dedicated to simplify consumer lending.

What I’m working on

As a Product Management Intern on the Intelligence Team, I’m working on a set of features that automate the collection of documents from the borrower on the lender’s behalf. This will allow Blend to reduce the time it takes for borrowers to apply and get approved for a loan, as well as reduce the time lenders spend on gathering data and documentation from a borrower. The team’s dream goal is a one-click application to get approved for a mortgage, and everyday we’re taking one step closer to it!

Though I have a mentor and manager, Blend expects all interns to be independent and self-driven. As a PM intern, I’m given the freedom and autonomy to shape my own projects—with ample guidance provided when necessary. My day-to-day involves working closely with engineering and design to build and ship features, as well as collaborating with customers to understand product requirements and pain points—which helps inform product decisions. Over the course of 12 weeks, I’ve also interacted with many other facets of the company. I worked with Compliance to ensure my features were in line with regulatory requirements, and Business Development to scope out a partner integration. The breadth of knowledge you can gain—and the diversity of people you can interact with—makes it a phenomenal learning experience.

Blend’s culture

Blend really treats interns as full-times. On my second day, I was taken to an important meeting at a client’s HQ and participated in the ongoing discussions from the get-go. I was also introduced as a Product Manager, and in all future interaction with the client they assumed I was one. It was a bit scary at first, with the immediate added responsibility, but I later came to enjoy and thrive on it. Blend has a flat, meritocratic culture, with almost no attention paid to titles, making it perfect for young and driven people to thrive. It has the agility of a nimble startup with daily releases, ever-changing product roadmaps, and an iterative development philosophy. You’re also working with friendly, interesting coworkers who want you to succeed.

Blend also has a small company vibe, with unique quirks of its own. Dogs freely roam the office, offering great company and a relaxing break. Fun Blend rituals include daily 4pm planks, where 20 or so employees stop what they’re doing and plank together for 2 minutes. Other fun events I joined included an intern MOMA trip, and a Product and Design team offsite to an industrial arts warehouse in Oakland where we learned how to melt glass and create murals (it’s pretty cool stuff, until you accidentally cut yourself).

When looking for places to work, see if you’re excited about the people/team, the product, and the problem it’s solving. The mortgage industry doesn’t stand out to college students as the most exciting industry to work in, but when you look at how much opportunity there is to redefine it, how much untapped value technology can add, and how many problems there are to solve, it becomes one of the most interesting industries to work in.