This summer, I had the privilege of joining the Winnipeg team at D2L as a software developer for my third co-op work term with the University of Manitoba. While I’ve been a member of co-op teams before, my experience at D2L was unique due to the circumstances caused by the pandemic. From my initial application to my last day, everything was conducted fully remotely, which led to a very unique experience that taught me valuable lessons I might not have otherwise learned.
Under completely normal circumstances, joining a new team as a co-op is both exciting and daunting. Will I fit with the team? Do I know enough to contribute meaningfully? Will I have too many questions? Initially, these concerns were only amplified by the unknown aspect of being fully remote. However as I continued past the interview process and into my everyday role, it became clear that D2L has been prepared to work remotely, and the transition felt very smooth.
One of the most important aspects of a co-op term is discovering your role on your team and contributing meaningfully within that role. During my first week, I was introduced to my entire team through personal 1 on 1 meetings. This brought me up to speed quickly, both introducing me to my new teammates, as well as giving me more context to understand my role. Another important aspect of a co-op term is the knowledge you gain from your team, especially through questions and pair programming. Being in different locations, simple conversations across desks weren’t possible, meaning team communication looked a little different. My team was fantastic in this transition – when I ran into roadblocks, any member of my team was always willing to jump on a video call and talk it through, or even pair program together. This was a surprisingly effective substitute for in-person communication. As a hidden benefit, I was also able to strengthen my independence by tackling issues on my own remotely.
Aside from the support I felt professionally from my teammates, I also felt very personally connected to the members of my team. My team held a daily “coffee break” meeting, where the only rule was no “work talk”. We also had bi-weekly games on Friday afternoons, where we played online board and party games. Through this, I was able to form personal connections with my teammates that went beyond just working together. Another unique way D2L facilitated personal connection was through something called “QuickConnects”. By joining a channel on Slack, you’d be randomly connected with an employee every 2 weeks and encouraged to schedule an informal meeting over coffee. As an introvert I was initially intimidated by this, but I decided to join, and am glad I did. Throughout my term, I was able to meet some amazing people across different disciplines of the company that I would have never crossed paths with otherwise.
The time I spent at D2L was very both memorable and enjoyable. Despite the difficult external circumstances, I felt well integrated, and was treated like any other member of the team. I was able to make meaningful contributions both to my team, and the company as a whole.
If you’re looking to challenge yourself and make meaningful contributions to a fantastic team that is passionate about the work they do, D2L is a fantastic place! If you want to learn more, I am currently representing D2L in Winnipeg as the Campus Ambassador for the University of Manitoba! Reach out to me on LinkedIn and we can chat about #lifeatD2L.