Future Friendly Internship Series: Alexandria YeungCulture · Sep 12, 2019
You might have noticed a change in our social media presence recently. It’s time to formally introduce the face behind the screen... Hi there! I’m Alex, the former content marketing co-op at TELUS Digital. Currently I’m studying at the University of Waterloo, but I wanted to share my experience at TELUS Digital this summer.
At the University of Waterloo, I’m in a unique program where I’ve accumulated a broad set of skills. I learn everything from marketing to coding to UX design. Because I’m only granted one co-op opportunity, placement was very important to make the most out of this experience. In order to prepare us for our first co-op job, my school had arranged presentations from various companies - one of them being TELUS Digital. I attended the presentation for the free pizza but stayed because of the way the presenters described their experience and various opportunities working at TELUS. This got me hooked. My thought afterwards was “wow, I really want to work there.”
Starting my first day on the job, I had the usual concerns. I was a student who had no idea what I wanted to do with my life as this was my first full-time position and I didn’t know what to expect or what was expected of me. I also had other concerns. To give a little more context, I’m deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other which means loud environments usually don’t work for me. I remember walking into the office and seeing the space being entirely open concept, loud and colourful. It definitely was not like the other floors at TELUS, with classic cubicles and quiet spaces. How was I going to survive?
Find people that will teach you, inspire you and help you grow
Working at TELUS was so much more than I had imagined. Oftentimes when people search for that next job, work hours and pay take precedence in the decision-making process. I never realized how important work culture was until I started working at TELUS. From my first day, I immediately felt like I was a team member that belonged. One of the core principles here at TELUS is that we enable our customers and team members to do what they want easily. And the team really does live by it. Introducing myself on my first day, I told my team members about my hearing problem and asked that they be mindful of that fact when trying to communicate. They went above and beyond. One of my managers, in particular, Veronica Van, always went out of her way to make sure she was standing on my left side so that I could hear her, she was careful to make sure she didn’t accidentally sneak up on me by tapping my shoulder to make sure she had my attention and that made all the difference.
I remember bringing up a concern I had about team meetings. Working with people in both Vancouver and Toronto meant a lot of video calls and sometimes, it was hard to hear. I asked if there might be a way to make these meetings more accessible for those deaf/hard of hearing. Again, they really went above and beyond trying to make things more accommodating and especially Oskar Westin, who reached out to me after that meeting and asked me what he could do to better support me. Just these small and thoughtful gestures made me appreciate working at TELUS all the more.
The thought and care that went into ensuring I could work in such a reactive (and occasionally chaotic) environment and thrive was absolutely astounding. Although it didn’t occur to me at the time, this experience was the beginning in helping me realize what I wanted to do in the future. More on that later.
Realizing that everyone here is learning too
At TELUS, the learning and career opportunities are endless. There are interesting workshops every week, events happening all the time and just awesome humans who are always happy to help and spare a few minutes to grab a coffee or a danish and chat.
Having never worked in a corporate environment before or even in a full-time job, I was worried that my lack of experience would make it difficult for me to contribute something meaningful to the team and that I’d be more of a burden than an asset. But I soon learned something important - we’re all learning. Whether you have zero years of work experience under your belt like myself or ten, there is always a new opportunity to learn. In fact, they really set you up for success here and do their best to support your endeavours. They sat down and asked me what I was interested in, what I wanted to accomplish here, what I wanted to learn and then helped steer me in the right direction. I also got to attend a lot of our events, all for free! All of this essentially led to me deciding that in the future, I want to do something with accessibility. The future is friendly when everyone is included, probably the most important lesson I’ve learned here and that’s something that has really resonated with me.
Use tools to innovate and run with ideas
Working across two teams meant that at TELUS, my responsibilities included managing all social media platforms and supporting the blog. This presented itself to me as a great learning opportunity. Working on these social platforms meant I got to meet people from all the different teams here and learn more about what they do here. I also attended several design, tech and dev conferences (DCC, UXRTO, FITC, etc) and countless workshops. In the past, I attended similar events from the front end - as an attendee. Working from behind the scenes, I got to experience first hand all the time and effort it took into making each event the best it could be. Making it more accessible and inclusive for everyone with live captions, screens every few rows and pronouns listed on name tags. It also reinforced my initial realization - the importance of work culture.
During my first week at TELUS, I performed an audit of our social media platforms and then presented my findings and recommendations. This was to help drive forward a new social media strategy that I worked on implementing through continuous research and testing for best practices. Prior to my starting here, social media wasn’t a huge focus, and it needed some serious TLC. I was set up with all the tools I needed and then given the reins. Knowing that I was doing something that would continue to be implemented even after I went back to school was a big responsibility but incredibly rewarding. Running social media and maintaining the blog also meant I got to meet a ton of people both within and outside of TELUS - something I might not have done if I were in a different role.
Working at TELUS was an absolutely life changing experience. Not only did I get to extend my learning beyond the classroom, I discovered a passion for accessibility that I didn’t even know existed. The opportunities provided helped me both grow as a person as well as intellectually. I know that the lessons I’ve learned and the culture I’ve experienced will continue to help guide me in my future endeavors and will be something I carry with me in all future opportunities.