Internships. Routeique prides itself on providing students and recent graduates the opportunity to develop their professional identities in a fun and challenging environment.
It's been an honour to host several interns since our inception and we value our close relationship with SAIT, which allows us to do so. But this year marks a first for us - a fully remote internship experience.
When we signed on Marketing practicum student, Brandon Wong, at the beginning of March we didn't realize we would soon find ourselves with a fully remote workforce. But we were confident we could still deliver an environment for Brandon to apply the knowledge he acquired at SAIT while picking up some new resume-worthy skills along the way. Brandon joined the Marketing & Onboarding teams at Routeique remotely from March 30th until April 23rd.
And who better than to comment on this journey than Brandon himself…
My Experience Remote On-Boarding with Routeique
Written by Brandon Wong
With the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19, many companies have had to adapt quickly in a time of great uncertainty. Routeique is not an exception and had to move their entire operation into a virtual office. I had just left my classes in preparation for a practicum period with Routeique, where I would be set to join the marketing team for one month. Excitement turned to anxiety during the outbreak as classmates lost their practicum opportunities. I was originally slated to start on March 16th, but due to Routeique having to move their entire operation to be fully remotely, I was delayed until March 30th. Thankfully this wasn’t a long wait and Routeique managed to get everything set up in an astoundingly short amount of time.
This sort of active adaptation is a testament to the kind of company Routeique is. Ready and willing to set up a completely new remote on-boarding process for a single person shows they are perfectly capable of putting together contingency plans and actions, even in strange times such as these. I was elated at the news and had a feeling my patience would pay off. Little did I know how strange and rewarding the entire experience would be.
My first day at Routeique could only be summed up as “abnormal.” Not that there’s anything wrong with this, it’s just something I wasn’t used to. Immediately upon waking up, I was already in my office and in my work clothes. Opening my laptop, I fumbled around with the myriad of new programs and apps I was told to install in order to get my work done. Zoom, Slack, Jira, and Confluence are quite common in virtual offices, but this would be the first time I’d be using them. Thankfully, Routeique made the right choice in using these programs because they were incredibly easy to pick up and learn.
On my first day, I was unfortunately late to my first Zoom meeting by a couple of minutes. As I was getting used to how Zoom worked, the team that would spearhead my on-boarding patiently waited and welcomed me warmly as soon as I logged on. I found myself in a chat room with floating heads on my computer screen who I would call my co-workers and team-mates. Soon I was introduced to the marketing team as well as participating in a weekly morning goal-sharing meeting where we’d be discussing goals and objectives.
Almost immediately I was given my first tasks. I was to help with the newly launched Calgary Grocery service with their email campaign and create a video for first-time users of the Routeique platform. As soon as I understood what my responsibilities were, the floating heads on my computer went away and I was left alone in my own home office, set to work. The chatter coming from my computer soon turned into beeps and boops of instant messaging, and my co-workers would now become chat boxes.
All thing’s considered, this was an incredibly fluid way of getting me to learn and become confident in my roles. I found myself asking plenty of questions and having an equal amount of answers provided to me. On top of that, I had people offer to guide me in specific processes one on one to ensure I was getting the hang of things. All of this was greatly appreciated especially when I understood how busy everyone was. As soon as my first day was over, I realized I had lost track of time and was excited to continue my work the next day.
By now, I’ve become comfortable with my time at Routeique. Every morning is a fresh start for projects or an opportunity to dust off anything I’ve been working on. I look forward to waking up every morning and attending goal-sharing meetings. Being given the freedom to choose what to do felt refreshing. Still, to this day, my co-workers are always willing to help and offer feedback when I most need it. I’ve even taken it upon myself to observe and offer advice every so often which is then met with respectful, open ears.
The strangeness of the floating heads in my screen and the constant chatter of chat boxes has disappeared. It now feels familiar and comforting to open up my laptop every morning to get ready to produce content.
I do admit there have been some challenging moments. For example, video editing has been slowed down while working remotely due to the lack of real-time feedback. In a physical office, I’d have the luxury of approaching a co-worker and showing them my screen right away as they provide real-time suggestions. I could edit my work as they provide feedback and show them the finished result right away. I have also found that communication overall is much slower than I’m used to because my co-workers are not within arm’s reach at all times.
The busier the person is the more emails and instant messages they must respond to. I might get lost in the ether and I might find myself waiting longer than usual for a response to manifest. However, this isn’t to say the employees of Routeique are never there. I’m guaranteed to receive a response no matter what throughout the day. Even sometimes in the evening when some people have stopped working for the day. It shows how hardworking they are and how helpful the entire team is when it comes to assisting others. Despite a slightly slower communication time frame, I still felt welcome and well attended to.
Exciting and Exemplary Experience
My practicum period is quickly approaching its end, and a bittersweet feeling is slowly rising within me. I’ve enjoyed my time with Routeique immensely. I have found myself impressed with the way they’ve been able to accommodate me into their operations. I have also found myself enjoying the work I’ve been doing and often find myself craving to do more well into the evening.
I can’t express just how well Routeique has handled this entire situation through the Covid-19 outbreak. I would wholeheartedly recommend them as a place for others looking for a smooth and well-organized experience. I’ve enjoyed every day I’ve worked at Routeique and can see myself continuing to harbour this enjoyment.
It’s astounding to me that Routeique claims this is the first time they’ve ever on-boarded someone remotely. A process like this, to my imagination, seems incredibly difficult to master. Yet the company has demonstrated they are more than capable of providing me with an unforgettable experience. In the short amount of time I’ve been with Routeique, they’ve undoubtedly shown me they’re a company I would gladly work for in the future. If you’re also a student looking for opportunities to learn and grow, hopefully, this has given you enough reason to consider them for your own practicum or internship.