My first work term is coming to an end in a couple of days. In fact, my time with Workopolis will come to an end on the day the world ends. How convenient! As a user interface developer, I worked on front-end development on Canada’s top job search site. I worked with an amazing team of talented developers and marketing/sales experts! I really got to experience the ins and outs of web development from a professional perspective. Although I came into the position with prior experience, I have come out with a more open mind about design.

I worked in Downtown Toronto on King Street West. I was surrounded by so many hipsters – it’s not even funny! My day-to-day tasks included creating job posting templates for various companies, creating and updating job boards affiliated with Workopolis, and writing and debugging scripts for widgets. I was also able to research and help to plan out the site’s web accessibility strategy, and re-design the employee portal and other in-house developer tools. To read more about my work, go here.

The main reason I decided to do my first work term at Workopolis was because of its great reputation in Canada, its casual yet highly productive work environment, and my personal interests in search engines. These expectations certainly did not disappoint! There were a lot of company-wide events and product showcases. The technology department even held labs to give developers free time to dabble around with new ideas.

I knew coming into the position that the workload wouldn’t as heavy and challenging as I wanted it to be. This is the general case with first work terms. I also had prior experience with web development through freelancing, so I didn’t have to learn an entirely new set of technical skills. This worked out great because I was able to really explore and expand on them.

The technology department at Workopolis adheres to the Agile method which essentially means that the company releases products in frequent cycles in an “efficient” manner. The rest of the departments at Workopolis, however, do not use Agile and do their own thing. This of course raises issues because not everyone is working in same manner. There was definitely a lot of debate going on between the business and the development team. Combined with my short time there (4 months), I believe to some extent that this affected my work load. My supervisor, a project manager/Agile facilitator, didn’t have time to plan goals with me because he had bigger priorities in organizing the development of major products. As a result, I was given many short-term tasks to do (along with my daily duties) instead of long-term tasks with the main team. Eventually, I was moved to a smaller team working on the Niche Network, a product that manages career sites for professional associations. There, I was able to do more challenging user interface development. I felt like I was a part of a team more. I was also invited to weekly meetings with other user interface and user experience developers. There, I got to discuss the many underlying issues with the website and general design ideas.

Although I was moved around within my department, I took advantage of it and was able to work with different types of developers on different types of projects. I would have definitely preferred to stay put in one team throughout the term and work on a one or two major projects. Nonetheless, I think everything worked out! I might apply to a smaller company/start-up for my next work term (Summer 2013) so that I can get a more “hands-on” experience. For future terms, I know for sure to be even more assertive when sharing my ideas and asking for more work.

…And here’s a random commercial for Workopolis!

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  • Wow! It seems like you’ve built up a lot of experience along the way. That’s what I’m currently struggling with… Not having enough experience. I have a client that needs a website built like http://www.creditlaw.com – I don’t feel that I’m experienced enough in graphic design or web design to deliver good results and make it function correctly.

    Seems like you had a blast working with talented developers. I wish I had an opportunity like you! 🙂

  • Hi Carrie! Whenever I do freelance work, I always feel like I’m not experience enough. The best thing to do when starting out is to work on smaller projects that require skills you excel at. Once you gain momentum, working on more complex projects becomes more rewarding!

    Best of luck with your work 😀

    The co-op program at my school is pretty awesome because I get to do a lot of valuable paid internships. Go Waterloo haha.

  • Yanie

    And you’re done! Sounds like you had a blast 😀

    Merry Christmas Julia 🙂 It’s nice to see you blogging again!!!!

  • @Yanie – Awww thanks! It’s time to sleeeeep and play the Sims ^^

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