Intern Chronicles: Program Management in an AI Startup

aiXplain Collaboration Interns

Welcome to aiXplain

When I was interviewing for my Program Management internship at aiXplain I was asked one of the generic interview questions of “What would you consider to be one of your greatest strengths?”[1]. Not knowing the importance of my answer I gave one of the seemingly generic answers from the top of my head. “I’m quick on my feet. I can adapt to change pretty well.” The rest of my interview went great and I was eventually offered the internship opportunity with aiXplain.

As a new intern, it’s common procedure to go through an onboarding checklist that includes accounts set-up, reading material, and familiarizing myself with the team. I was given a couple of weeks to complete the onboarding process. Later in the day, I had my first meeting with my manager. After a very warm welcome, I explained how excited I was to begin working with him after finishing my onboarding. Having said that, I was handed the first piece of advice from my manager. He told me “Miqdad you have plenty of time to complete your checklist, I’d like you to start working on the tasks I give you for now– don’t rush finishing the onboarding checklist, you’ll reach its due date realizing that you’ve innately checked everything required while working. It would save you so much time.” As gullible as I was two months ago, I took what he said at face value and started working on the tasks assigned to me.

Move Fast and Adapt Quickly (MFAAQ)

Something they don’t tell you when you start working for a tech startup is how fast everything is moving. It’s like merging into a highway from the side road; you need to accelerate until you reach the other cars’ velocity so you don’t slow everyone else down. And as fast as things were going, I soon got contacted by HR regarding my onboarding checklist– the due date is in a couple of days! Panicking, I went over to my checklist, and to my surprise, every single item on the checklist had been completed implicitly as part of the tasks I worked on. I needed to keep up with the work pace to meet the deliverables expected from me. Hence I never hesitated to seek help and ask questions whenever I felt overwhelmed so I don’t sacrifice the quality of what I’m delivering.

Facebook’s famous mantra is Move Fast and Break Things (MFABT)[2]. However, with startups I think it’s important to MFAAQ or Move Fast and Adapt Quickly— so you don’t break things. Small intern tasks slowly grew to more complex tasks, complex tasks then grew to simple projects, which later became complex projects. It all happened so seamlessly that looking back– I can’t pinpoint exactly when the transition from one stage to another happened.


The experience was collateral to my progression from doing simple intern tasks to creating full project plans. I am a Program Management intern who learned the importance of (Prog)ressive Management in an AI startup, re: the title of this blog post. I’m grateful to be a part of aiXplain’s journey, leaving an impact with every step along the way. But with great responsibility, comes greater accountability.[3] And it’s very important in Progressive Management that I hold myself accountable before others in the work that I’m doing.

[1] Your 2023 Guide to the Most Common Interview Questions and Answers
[2] What tech startups should know about ‘moving fast and breaking things’
[3] Responsibility vs Accountability – What’s the difference?