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What I Learned as a Summer Student at SLN

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Last February, my buddies and I planned a trip to Montreal for a Hackathon. On our way there, we decided to stream the Men’s Olympic Hockey game of Canada vs USA over Megabus’s abysmal Wi-Fi. Canada won that match. It was conquest more than a win actually. As the game approached the second period, I received an email from the Student Life Network saying that they were looking for talented developers and designers. So I waited for the game to finish and applied.

A month and a round of interviews later, I was hired to be a junior designer for the summer with SLN.

I came into work on my first day expecting to be overwhelmed with work, the company rules, being shown my place and being told to grab coffee for everyone in the office, since I am an intern. But no, I was greeted by everyone on the team, asked to get comfortable and then was given my first task.

I started to learn more and more about web design, coding responsive websites and an assortment of things. But the most important thing I learned was teamwork.

“But the most important thing I learned was teamwork.”

As students, whenever we’re confronted with a group project, we generally try to avoid them. In theory, group projects in school are supposed to teach us communication, responsibility, collaboration, and most importantly, teamwork. But in reality, oftentimes you end up learning to trust no one.

Every group project, however, I worked on at SLN was the exact opposite from my experiences at school. First and foremost, there was clear communication between the team and I. Everyone explained their ideas clearly and effectively. There was a sense of openness between everyone on the team. If something that I designed looked like shit, they told me so, typically in a humourous way. (And they were right). And if something looked great, I would be told that as well.

But what I really learned from the team was that there was a sense of respect between everyone. Rather than, “Who is to blame for this?” It was, “What can we learn from this?” and most importantly, “What can we learn from each other?” Everyone brings some sort of talent to the table that we all can learn from. Everyone in the company was based on capitalizing on that. If I ran into trouble when it came to designing, I’d just ask for feedback and guidance. There was a sense of trust and support from everyone on the team. And if something couldn’t be done, there was always a solution.

Towards the end of my internship, for example, I was given the task to create various illustrations for the SLN blog.

The thing is, I have never done illustrations before. I was asked to create roughly nine illustrations in three weeks. Not the easiest thing for me, as a beginner. About two and a half weeks in and only being able to complete five of the nine illustrations, I started sort of panicking because I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the task. I had to let the team know. While I am telling them this, I am expecting the worst in the back of head, “How can you not finish? Three weeks is more than enough time to complete nine illustrations!” But nope, their response was, “That’s cool. Do as many as you can.” I also got Tyler, the man responsible for creating all the illustrations and prize images at SLN, to help me out with them. Sadly though, I wasn’t able to finish the illustrations before the internship ended. But then again, aside from teamwork, I learned the importance of communication on a team.

Thank you to SLN for all the learning experiences and the awesome opportunity. And the chance to be on the blog once again, this time with my words.

ED. Note: You’ve probably seen Anas’ illustrations all over the blog. There’s this one, and this one, oh, and right, this one here.

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.