Prologue - Life Before Tech
My career path has not been so linear. I’ve ventured many industries from sports, hospitality to the financial services industry before entering the tech industry. I’m a type of person if I’m curious about something, I do it right away and find out if it’s for me or not. Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk said it the best: “Dwelling has zero return on investment.”
When I found out that a career in financial services wasn’t for me, I quit and enrolled in the UX Design program at RED Academy. It was an easy decision as I wanted a career that had the best interest for the people.
Gary Vaynerchuk's input on dwelling. Warning: coarse language
StormBrain project at RED Academy
After finishing a client project at RED, my client Steve Kim was pleased with our work and he introduced me to Sam Araki, the founder of ElementIQ, who worked in the same co-working space as him. After I got in touch with Sam, we went for a coffee to get to know each other and talk about a potential placement at ElementIQ. After our second meeting, I was offered a 3-month internship.
At first, I had mixed feelings as ElementIQ is an inbound marketing agency and not a design agency. However, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to get a holistic understanding of the tech industry. I jumped at the opportunity to start my journey in the tech industry.
Day 1 THU - The First Day
I was greeted by the ElementIQ team when I entered SpaceKraft, a shared workplace in Burnaby. I was joined with Katie, who was also starting her first day. Soon after the introduction, Ramesh gave us a tour of the co-working space.
Ramesh then gave us a walkthrough of the company’s culture and workflow. Some of the tools and resources that we installed were Google Apps, Quip, Teamwork, Slack, along with subscriptions to numerous marketing resources.
By end of the day, I was equipped with the tools and resources for success and had a better understanding of the company’s culture:
- Autonomy. Employees have autonomy as we work remotely twice a week.
- Semi-structured. We have daily huddles at 9:08 AM as well as weekly team meetings. It helps us to keep accountable and track our progress.
- Communication. We utilize various tools to help our workflow. They all serve a purpose for us to work together as a team.
Day 2 FRI - First Remote Day
It felt a little weird at first as it’s my second day and that I was to work remotely. I joined the daily huddle at 9:08 AM on Google Hangouts. Sam invited us to Zoom, an alternative to Hangouts. It turns out that Zoom is much more stable even with the video share on! Everyone went around to discuss what they’re working on the day and added the tasks on Quip. It was also an opportunity to discuss any blockers that were keeping us from finishing a task.
After the huddle, Ramesh, Katie and I stayed in the conference to plan the day. We were given the resources to learn about the company as well as inbound marketing materials. Soon after, Sam assigned me to obtain the ‘Optimization & Testing Mastery’ Certificate on Digital Marketer. As a data-driven UX/UI Designer, Sam identified that it would complement my current skill set to learn conversion rate optimization (CRO).
We had the opportunity to utilize Quip, Teamwork, Slack, Google Apps, amongst other tools to get familiar with the ElementIQ workflow. I spent much of the day learning about inbound marketing and I was fascinated to learn how it closely parallels with many user experience (UX) methods. It further reinforced my decision to take on the opportunity at ElementIQ as it gave me new perspectives.
Day 3 MON - First Client Project!
We began our morning with a daily huddle. After discussing our daily tasks and our blockers, Sam shared a Harvard Business Review article on the benefit of daily self-reflection. Sam encouraged us to adopt this and practice reflection before ending our day.
For the rest of the morning, Ramesh introduced ElementIQ’s clients to Katie and I. I was intrigued at the company’s transparency and the personal connection that we have with our clients. After lunch, Ramesh gave us a digital marketing walkthrough. We learned about the elements of digital marketing and we had the opportunity to ask any questions that we had.
After the walkthrough, Lincoln gave me my first client project- to create an email campaign for a client. I was to come up with an email campaign strategy for a promotional offer with an email newsletter and a landing page. I asked many questions to understand the context and the target audience. After coming up with the objective, key performance indicators (KPIs) and the information about our audience, we gathered additional questions to send to our client.
Day 4 TUE - Blog Optimization And Pizza Mmm...
Today, we had a blog post walkthrough with Karmen. She showed us how to access our client’s websites with WordPress and how we create blog posts for our clients. By the end of the walkthrough, we had the opportunity to revise and optimize an older blog post.
In the afternoon, Lincoln showed Katie and I the world of web hosting. I thought I had an understanding of web hosting but I learned a lot from Lincoln hearing from the agency’s perspective. Towards the end of our web hosting walkthrough, we were interrupted by the smell of pizza…
It was time for quarterly Town Hall at SpaceKraft. It was an opportunity to meet the members and the staffs at the co-working space to discuss upcoming events and any concerns that we may have. It was a pleasant experience to meet people with a various background that work together to build a community.
Day 5 WED - Design And Code?!
On my second remote day, I received feedback from Ramesh on the blog post that I revised for optimization. The comments functionality on Google Docs worked perfectly as the feedback was clear for revision. After revising the blog post, I put together the content for the email campaign and sent it to Lincoln for review. I then sketched the wireframes and started to digitize the wireframes on Sketch.
At 3:00 PM, I had a Zoom meeting with Ramesh where he shared his screen and gave me a walkthrough of a client project. The client wanted to create a web page and Ramesh asked me if I could design AND build the page WordPress myself under the guidance of Lincoln. Although I don’t have much experience with WordPress, I happily accepted the challenge as it was an opportunity to further expand myself as a designer.
Day 6 THU - Intern To Strategist
Despite being an internship, Sam has given me the title UX/UI Strategist. I am ever grateful for this and the faith that his team has shown me in my ability. I want to take this opportunity to live up to the expectation and apply design thinking to solve problems for our users and our clients.
When I was seeking employment in tech, I noticed many titles from: UX/UI Designer, Digital Designer, Product Designer, Web Designer, Interaction Designer amongst many others. I recently read a Medium article suggesting that there’s an unnecessary fragmentation of design jobs. Designers solve problems for the users and the clients by creating seamless user experience. They do everything: research, writing, visuals, code, project management, whatever it takes. I very much resonate with this and at ElementIQ, I wear all hats in order to get the job done. I am able to do this in a supportive team culture where each member has respect and trust for one another. I am grateful to be in this position and I look forward to the upcoming challenges.