My second work term with Alida has given me many opportunities that I would not have expected going in. While my first work term was greatly centered around learning about the software development process and the systems involved, this second term has allowed me to pursue my own interests within the company and bring unique value to the team.
During one of my meetings with my manager, we discussed Alida’s “Ideas Portal,” which is where both customers and employees go to submit product feature ideas for the team to consider implementing in the future. This portal was managed by one or two Product Managers (PM) and had hundreds of ideas—dating back five years—that hadn’t been addressed or reviewed. When I saw the engagement our customers had in the Portal, I started looking at new ways to utilize and optimize it. Once I was ready, I pitched the idea of a new Ideas Portal to the team, one that would better reflect our modern product areas and be periodically reviewed by staff. To pull this off, I needed the support of all the PMs since they would need to stay on top of all new ideas being submitted. Fortunately, I was met with an overwhelmingly positive response and many of the PMs gave me advice on ways to build on the previous portal.
Over the next month, I developed the new Portal and officially launched it companywide. Today, Customer Service Mangers often direct customers to submit ideas in this portal and it also serves as a place where employees can express their pain points about the product and offer suggestions. As an improvement from before, all the PMs are on top of the new ideas being submitted and can sort them by the product areas that pertain to their teams, making the review process simple and efficient. During this process, my manager gave me a critical piece of advice that I would recommend anyone follow when they are pitching an idea to a team: you should make sure that everyone is on board with your idea before the pitch so that you aren’t met with any questions you can’t answer. It’s beneficial to meet with everyone one-on-one to learn about their concerns and figure out how to address them before you meet with the entire team. It may sound like cheating, but it might just save your Q&A period from falling apart.
For anyone going into their second work term at a company, this is your time to leave a lasting impact. Often eight-month Co-ops are designed so that the first four months are onboarding and learning about the industry, while the last four months are where you have more freedom to explore the company. Don’t be afraid to do bold things and get involved with the projects that interest you the most. Make sure that the last half is the most memorable—both for you, and your employer.