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James Halim

SFU Student Undergraduate
Communication, Art + Technology › Interactive Arts + Technology › Design

James Halim at Appnovation
I believe growth requires initiation and leaving one’s comfort zone; it’s never easy, but it gets better each time the effort is made.
Quick Brief

Hello, friends and readers. This will be my (somewhat) detailed experience of my Co-op opportunity at Appnovation, marking the halfway point of my 8-month Co-op position as a Design Coordinator.

My Initial Impressions

I previously shared and published my first-ever blog outlining the Co-op/internship application and interview process here: An In-Depth Journey On How I Landed My First Design Internship. Now that I’ve been in full work mode for the past 4 months, I can finally share my initial impressions and general thoughts about life as a Design Coordinator for a large design and tech. consultant company. But before I go any further, it would help to have a good sense of what exactly Appnovation does.

Appnovation is a full-service digital consultancy company. It provides services such as Strategy and Insights, Creative and Experience Design, Technology and Platform Development, Marketing and Communications, Managed Services and Support, and last but not least, Corporate Agility and Governance. It’s a growing company that currently has fourteen global offices and has supported and partnered with various industry leaders such as Pfizer, Disney, Shiseido, and Google.

Coming into this Co-op position, I honestly had no idea what my day-to-day work would look like. It’s one thing to understand and read the responsibilities listed on job descriptions on hiring boards, but it’s a totally different thing to live and breathe the day-to-day work life. I’m not saying that the tasks and work given to me were unrelated to the job description, but rather, I was mentally unprepared to transition from school mode to full-time work mode.

“Unprepared? What do you mean?”

Coming from a design-focused school, most, if not all, of our time is spent working on projects, and some projects took a very long time to work on. So, to mitigate the potential of having to do a bunch of projects all in the same week, I would work on completing these projects as soon as possible. While this has been of great benefit most of the time, I found this “hyper-focused-completion” mindset to be a huge hurdle to overcome when I began my Co-op position.

During my first month, I was tasked to work on internal-facing work, mainly working and supporting the sales marketing team with slide deck designs for presentations and designing various deliverables for marketing. Oftentimes, I found myself working on these various tasks and having trouble focusing and managing my time properly. In school, the projects in various classes are spaced out in a way that proper time management is possible. However during my first month, I was not only scrambling to complete all the tasks but also they were sometimes reiterated and changed on very short notice. As previously mentioned, my “hyper-focused-completion” mindset had trouble shifting gears from working on one specific project to multiple diverse projects that had dynamic changes at any given moment.

What I’ve Learned So Far

In these past 4 months, I’ve met some of the most talented, amazing, and hard-working individuals. I’ve taken the opportunity to reach out and have coffee chats with various team members from different channels within the organization. From this, I was able to gain valuable insight into how I can further improve my design skills, but most importantly my skills in connecting with people and learning from their experiences.

Becoming a “Tree-person”

Recently, I attended an alumni conference event for SFU SIAT. The event was called Touchpoint, and the conference had Product Designers from various companies such as Meta, Microsoft, Google, SAP, and more who shared their life tips and career advice to over one hundred students and faculty members. While the entire panel of speakers was amazing, I clearly remember one speaker, Robyn Goodridge, a Senior Product Designer at Meta, sharing her idea of a “tree-person,” which is the antithesis of a “T-person.” A T-person is capable of many things and is an expert in at least one of them. They can adapt and work with varying demands depending on the project or business needs. Conversely, a “tree-person” focuses on growing and developing their life and career in all directions and growing stronger roots along the way. This idea has stuck with me ever since.

Tying it back to what I’ve learned in these past 4 months, the idea of becoming a “tree-person” resonated with me because I truly value growing in all directions of my career and life. By taking this Co-op opportunity, I had the opportunity to learn management and communication skills from the different individuals who make this job so great, better understand my place as a Design Coordinator, and learn how to apply all this knowledge in order to become a better designer in the future.

Looking Forward and Goals

As previously mentioned, I am now halfway through my 8-month Co-op term. I can say for certain that every day has been an amazing learning experience for me. I’ve always strived for more leadership positions and recently, I’ve been leading the design aspects of some of the projects that we’re collaborating on within the company. I believe growth requires initiation and leaving one’s comfort zone; it’s never easy, but it gets better each time the effort is made. I’m excited and looking forward to another 4 months at Appnovation and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!


James Halim

SFU Student Undergraduate
Communication, Art + Technology › Interactive Arts + Technology › Design
visibility  281
May 24, 2022

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