Wilfrid Laurier University MBA student Melissa Lee knew that working for Softchoice, a leading North American provider of technology solutions and services, would be a unique experience as soon as she got on the phone with the company’s student recruiter.
“Rather than spending the entire interview asking me questions about my qualifications, the recruiter provided me with some great insight on the kinds of things Softchoice does for their employees,” she recalls. “It was evident from the start that they are committed to the people they employ.”
When Softchoice offered Melissa the opportunity to work as a Digital Marketing Operations Intern at their Toronto office for four months, she accepted, of course.
Doing it differently…on your first day
As an intern, you might expect to be trained by your manager or supervisor, but Softchoice took a slightly different approach with Melissa: she was invited to the office before her official start date to undergo two full days of training with the previous intern.
“He went over the main responsibilities of the role and also provided me with some insight and advice on how to be successful in my new position,” she says. “Having the opportunity to actually speak with another student who had lived the experience already was incredibly valuable.”
“Building relationships and trust amongst your co-workers is priority number one.”
—Christopher Ramnarine, Project Co-ordinator co-op student, Softchoice
On the first day of Sheridan College Human Resource Management student Tia Parekh’s Talent Acquisition internship with Softchoice, she and the other new employees participated in a scavenger hunt to help them become familiar with their new workplace.
Christopher Ramnarine, a Business Process Management student from Sheridan College who started his Project Co-ordinator co-op work term the same day as Tia, says the scavenger hunt was a great way to meet Softchoice’s current employees – and the office dogs, of course!
There are 85 dogs “working” at Softchoice’s offices across North America. In case you were wondering, Christopher’s favourite office dog was a flat-coated retriever named Spock and Tia’s favourite was Stella, a yorkipoo.
“She was the greatest stress reliever during a busy day at work!” Tia says. “Fashionably dressed and always energetic, she was one pooch that was always ready to play.” Melissa brought her own dog to work (pictured right).
Softchoice’s unique approach to welcoming new employees helped Christopher learn an important career lesson early on: “Building relationships and trust amongst your co-workers is priority number one.”
The student experience at Softchoice
Tia says she was pleasantly surprised to find that, at Softchoice, interns and co-op students are treated the same as full-time, permanent employees.
“I was treated with the utmost respect, continuously challenged within my role, and encouraged to take ownership of projects – active participation was admired,” she explains.
“Remember that your internship is a learning experience and it is your responsibility to make the most of it!” —Melissa Lee, Digital Marketing Operations Intern, Softchoice
For Christopher, that meant playing a key role in the launch of a new software service. “From product testing to getting all stakeholders excited and invested, it was a very rewarding experience,” he says. “Receiving recognition for my work on the product launch gave me a real sense of accomplishment.”
Melissa, meanwhile, had the opportunity to step outside of her main responsibilities as Digital Marketing Operations Intern to be part of a small team that planned, co-ordinated and executed a funny promotional video for Softchoice’s sales team to share with potential customers.
“I’ve received support from both my managers and HR to explore roles and opportunities outside of my typical responsibilities,” she says.
Before heading back to school, Melissa also completed the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) – proof of proficiency in Google Analytics, a free service offered by Google and an important marketing tool that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources – and earned the highest score out of all previous Digital Marketing Interns.
“Remember that your internship is a learning experience and it is your responsibility to make the most of it!”
The doors are wide open – even for students
Everyone at Softchoice is friendly and open toward interns and co-op students, including the senior leadership team, says Christopher, who is now working full-time at Softchoice as an Inside Sales Account Manager.
“The open-door policy at Softchoice allowed me to feel confident and comfortable.”
—Tia Parekh, Talent Acquisition Intern, Softchoice
“You can speak casually with anyone in the office. During meetings, your opinion or perspective on issues is valued, regardless of the level of management present in the meeting.”
Tia, who also returned to school after her internship at Softchoice, says she had the opportunity to interact with several leaders, ranging from senior managers to vice presidents.
“The open-door policy at Softchoice allowed me to feel confident and comfortable enough to engage with them,” she explains. “Furthermore, they always made me feel welcome and appreciated any suggestions or feedback.”