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Co-op Files: Things No One Can Take Away

Meet our second co-op student, Jacqueline (Jackie) who is the marketing coop student from the University of Waterloo. Jackie studies Biotechnology and Economics and is entering her final year of university. She shares her learnings and some of her experiences from her time at HItSend . 

I never bought into the Apple hype. For the past 21 years, I’ve always used PC products and honestly thought that I could never switch to an Apple product. But since HitSend, a lot has changed.

Naively I always thought of design as a superficial concept. Something that had “good design” was just pleasing to the eye and nothing more or less. However, through my time at HitSend I’ve come to understand and appreciate good design. As a student majoring  Biotechnology and Economics, I like to think I’m quite well versed in understanding different thought processes and schools of thought but that was clearly not the case. After having spent hours understanding SoapBox, (possibly more than I needed to for my tasks) I now have an intimate understanding of why SoapBox the way it is.

Design is a blend of science and art. A beautifully designed tool must be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Ultimately, good design is about creating a tool where the user intuitively knows how to use it without instruction manuals or Google. Have you ever had those embarrassing moments where you go to push on the door when it actually required a deft pull to open? That, is the result of bad design. A well designed door handle should allow the user to intuitively know whether to push or pull. The element of intuition is primitive and sometimes we don’t realize just how much thought and energy goes into creating simple, beautiful and functional tools that taps into your subconscious. Not surprisingly, as my appreciation for design grew over the last four months as I delved into even the smallest things like fonts for SoapBox, so had my inventory of Apple products. And this appreciation for design has quietly seeped into my everyday life. I actively seek and try to create things that have great design from work term reports to the layout of my room. As I enter my final year of university, I find myself constantly expecting higher quality work from myself because anything less just isn’t good enough and once you have the desire for quality and design, no one can take it away from you.

For the most part, I functioned on the HitSend team as the marketing producer. I make stuff. But perhaps one of the most valuable exercises I did was pitch. There’s no other way to put it but HitSend is awesome at pitching. There is simply no comparison when you look at university in-class pitches (if you even get to do any) and a HitSend pitch. No university course, professor or TA that is going to be able to give you the real experience or responsibility of a scoring a potential client. From learning how to prepare a deck that keeps listeners interested to pitching “like I’m business flirting” or “pretending you’re George Clooney”, I learned that this is how business gets done in the real world. Granted I only practiced for a few days because this was an ad-hoc assignment but gosh did I improve. Today, I pitched to my class and I can proudly say that I nailed my presentation.

More importantly, the exercise in pitching was more than just learning how to present. It was learning how to sell and selling means that you’ve got to stand by every word you say. In other words, have confidence in yourself. I remember telling Warren about how I was terrified to pitch to the president of GM while blubbering about all the strange things I do when I present like stutter or talk really quietly or sway side to side and he said to me “you’ll do fine”. Corny as it sounds, I felt calmer and probably subconsciously believed it too. Reflecting back on that moment, I’ve come to believe that confidence is something that just shines out of certain people and for others must be nurtured but once you have it, no one can take it away from you.

I have always been a very resourceful person (Google is my second virtual best friend after Instagram) but never have my abilities been stretched and pushed than at HitSend.

I am a huge fan of Project Runway and Tim Gunn has got to be one of my favourite people in the world. Every episode has a challenge, there’s always a designer that struggles and Tim (he mentors the designers) will always tell them to “make it work”. Over the course of my time at HitSend, I’ve come to adopt and raise this mantra as my own.

Unlike my very tech-savvy co-workers, my primitive Acer laptop had always sufficed because all I ever really use is the Internet and Microsoft Office. At Hitsend though, sometimes I was challenged with a tasks that were beyond both me and my poor laptop. For example, photoshoping SoapBox Simon into all of our real-life image headers (if you didn’t notice it before, go back and check out all our posts… Simon’s in all of our header images). I have no background in design much less photoshop but sometimes… you just have to make it work. After a month of making things work, you find that gradually “no” is used less frequently because you realize that one way or another, you can always find a way. After three months of making things work, you find that you thrive on challenges. There is no other stimulus like a new task that requires some extra Googling, time outside of work, trial and error and lots of feedback. Some people fear challenges but after you learn to love being outside of the box, no one can take it away from you.

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