WORK TERM REFLECTIVE PAPER
Prepared by Hicham Soujae
Program of study: Computer Programmer
Work term (Fall 2020)
Employer: Sagetea AI
Table of Contents
- Introduction. 3
- Description of work experience. 3
- Sagetea Vision. 3
- Sagetea Values. 3
- Quality. 3
- Education. 4
- Community. 4
- Description. 4
- Roles and responsibilities: 4
- Learning Objectives. 5
- Learning Objective #1. 5
- Learning Objecting #2. 5
- Learning Objective #3. 5
- Learning Objective #4. 5
- Learning Objective #5. 5
- Examination of learning experience. 6
- Self-Assessment (articulation of learning). 6
- Conclusion. 7
Algonquin College’s co-op program is designed to give students the opportunity to learn on the job and to apply their academic skills to the real world. It is distinct from internships because students can experiment and determine which practice settings they might like to enter in their future careers. As a strict requirement in Algonquin College’s Computer Programmer curriculum, the co-op program has, to some degree, helped compensate for the job market needs over the past few years.
The purpose of this reflective paper is to demonstrate the valuable learning experience that I gained during my work term and how it aligns with the college involvement in the Canadian IT job market. It is also an opportunity to test my skills and implement what we learned in class along with gaining new transferable skills during this co-op period.
In this paper, I will start by describing the work experience, my roles and responsibilities, and my learning objectives and elaborate more on that. Then I will examine in details my learning experience, what are the cons and pros about it, and discuss some of the challenges I faced during my co-op work term placement.
Then, I will talk about self-assessment, which is a useful tool to learn about job-specific knowledge or skills and learn about myself and how I made progress and in which area. In the recommendations section, I will discuss if there is any feedback regarding my perspective and if there is any room for improvement. Finally, in the conclusion, I will summarize all the important bullet points.
This is my first co-op in a very special set up working from home due to COVID19, I was the e-commerce / online marketing Junior Programmer at Sage Tea Inc. After looking back on the job description, I believe that the position was explained accurately and adequately provided me with the appropriate information in regard to the co-op tasks, duties, expectations, necessary skill sets, and desirable requirements. My co-op at SageTea was paid ($18/hour) and they provided me with a special internet connection which was essential for me to cover basic necessities such as rent, utilities, transportation, etc. SageTea Inc. is a privately controlled software company in Ottawa, Canada that has been in business for ten years. SageTea specializes in customized software tools and services for the Canadian Government as well as for national and international clients.
SageTea’s (SageTea inc., 2020) core product, Text-to-Software®, is a unique, patented system for developing customized software. The company has had major design wins with the Canadian federal government and successful solutions delivered in the Health Care and Warehousing industries.
SageTea believes that life should be less complicated. That is why we create easy to use, easy to customize, software applications that support the way you do business.
SageTea’s patented development platform creates software applications with little or no coding. As a result, there are significantly fewer bugs caused by human error. Every application we develop is built to the highest security standards and we can provide our customers with Protected B (or higher) cloud storage solutions.
As part of our commitment to the community, SageTea has worked closely with the co-op departments of the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, Algonquin College and Willis College to offer students from Canada and around the world the chance for their first real job in their chosen careers. We have also partnered with the University of New Brunswick’s Computer Sciences department to develop world-leading AI solutions.
SageTea also works with other community organizations such as the Community Employment Resource Centre, IT 2.0, Youth Services Bureau, and the International Talent Acquisition Centre.
Since my co-op position was based around the timelines of the enhancement of the corporate online store www.sagetea.ai, my daily/weekly tasks shifted over the course of 4 months. However, primarily, I would communicate with the team over zoom meetings or via email to coordinate dates/times for the work to be done or discuss issues to be fixed assigned by the manager. We have a daily checkup 15 minutes meeting at 10:00 am to discuss the tasks for the day, and a daily 1:00 pm Tech meeting. For the First 3 weeks, I have completely re-design the company online store and give it a new professional look and responsive theme. then a large portion of my time would be working on the WooCommerce testing and Google Analytics or Google Ads in order to rank the website amongst the very tough competition. Throughout my entire co-op, I was definitely treated as an integral part of the Sagetea Team and consistently worked with the CEO. David Long and President Scott MacGregor and the tech team Mark McNab and Tim Rowledge. Lastly, I would oftentimes collaborate with Tsehay Gebremeskel the Junior Data Scientist.
In my work term with Sagetea inc. as “e-commerce / online marketing Junior Programmer” in the co-op application, my main work focuses on WooCommerce and WordPress website which includes testing and installing specific plugins and working within the team to develop a comprehensive solution for the business client, also Working individually on developing the digital marketing strategy for Sagetea online store. This also includes installing and testing google tag manager and linked it to Google Ads and Google Analytics to ensure data is captured from the website visits for further analysis. I have also used Photoshop to redesign product boxes. Other responsibility includes attending team checkpoints meetings to check with the team progress and share ideas or assign new tasks. These tasks and responsibilities along with the great leadership from my manager and the team members helped me outreaching my goals of learning new technologies and a tremendous amount of experience and matching with what I learned in college. It is inspiring working with such experienced people that are excellent at what they do.
I can say I am very lucky to work with such a supportive team. The co-op work program has also allowed me to hone my academic knowledge in a practice setting and experience.
Redesign and rebuild Sagetea Website. My supervisor will evaluate me based on my work quality.
I feel very accomplished when I see my final Sagetea website design live. I agree with my attention to detail had improved since I discussed with my supervisor by tackling the different issues with the previous website. Reading his instruction carefully and take the time needed to review any document needed with a fair amount of time to make sure that all the requirements fulfilled.
Employ the best digital marketing practices. My supervisor will evaluate me based on the agreed target during the term.
I can say that I have achieved some of the milestones for what was planned. Digital marketing is a long process that will need at least 6 to 8 months of continuous work to see the results. I did not reach the target to make a sale on the website, but this is also due to other issues like fixing the shopping cart or server tests which takes time, and the fast-changing environment of the requirements it requires me some more time to achieve it.
Maintain Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, and Google Ads. My supervisor will evaluate me based on the demonstration.
I was able to improve myself on different strategies and uses of google tag manager, now I have a better process to go through to implement and maintain each variable and triggers.
Write PHP code and maintain the eCommerce /website. My supervisor will evaluate me based on testing.
Develop good presentation skills and team collaboration in a changing environment.
Communication is another key aspect of being a programmer, and the co-op work experience has contributed to my understanding of its importance in everyday practice. A programmer needs to know what kind of information and language is suitable for managers, clients, and fellow programmers. I have improved my ability to listen, as well as learned several communication tips to use when dealing with difficult situations.
Thinking critically about my work term experience. Completing these two sections (Examination of learning experience and Self-Assessment) requires time, consideration, and reflection.
Critically examine my work experience by answering the following questions:
- How did this experience make me feel (positively and/or negatively) before starting the work experience and upon completion?
This co-op experience has changed my attitude surrounding startups in general. Prior to working at Sagetea inc., I believed that most of the startup work would be dull and too much to handle. However, working at Sagetea has broadened my understanding of “startup” and provided me with an introduction to an array of different types of technologies, such as Smalltalk programming language, Postgres Database, Linux, Python and AI, and more. I have been exposed to many processes, such as coding in PHP, working on a Linux server, tracking website data, organizing daily work, and working on a chatbot using python and AI.
- In what ways did you succeed or do well?
I was able to succeed in communicating and reaching out for help from my team with their tremendous amount of help and direction I was able to finish all the tasks that I was assigned, this allows me to be more confident and very relieving.
- In what ways were you challenged?
When I first started I was challenged with learning business requirements and the company goal that at the time I never saw before, after studying the requirement and discuss it with my team work I kind of got an idea of how it works but still I wasn’t sure about it this where communication skills come in handy. Luckily, I have a great manager who is approachable, and he is always ready to answer all my questions and concerns and just confirmed all the work that I did already.
- How has your perspective/thoughts changed in light of your experience?
This co-op definitely helped me solidify my future goal to pursue a master’s degree in data science degree. Throughout my time at Sagetea, I was able to have informational interviews with several key staff members, network with other professionals in the field of IT, and enhance my current knowledge in a real business setting.
Learning about job-specific knowledge and skills
- What job-specific knowledge and skills did you learn through your work experience?
I learned a lot of skills and knowledge during my term work samples of what I learned is:
- Google Tag manager
- Google Analytics
- Google Ads
- WordPress/ WooCommerce
- PHP coding
- Putty and WinSCP
- SQL Programming Language
- Python and AI
- How did you learn it (tasks, situations, feedback mechanisms) and why is it important?
All those technical skills are widely used in the field and it is pretty similar to some of what I learned in college, also I did a lot of google search and video tutorials.
Overall, my work experience at Sagetea inc. was positive. I was very happy with the number of things that I have learned and experienced in the 12 weeks of being a Student computer programmer with the company. I believe that Algonquin College should keep this aspect of the Programming course as it does provide students with the experience needed in order to find a job later on (even if the experience is over a short amount of time). Also, it can be very beneficial as it could lead to a more permanent position, which is what happened to some of my friends. I ended up learning a lot more than I thought I would be able to in the time span. I am so happy, and proud that I have completed my course, and I can now graduate and call myself a Graduate Computer Programmer.
SageTea inc. (2020, 12 03). About SageTea. Retrieved from SageTea: https://sagetea.ai/about-us/