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A year in the life as a Redbrick co-op

Ally KueflerApril 29, 2021

“Challenging, dynamic, and ever-evolving.” 

My time at Redbrick has been nothing like what I anticipated, but more than I ever could have expected. As one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers in 2021, there’s no wonder that it truly is a great place to work. When I secured a four-month work term as a marketer in Shared Services, I knew that my first role in tech was going to be fast-paced, involve a steep learning curve, and that no two days would look the same. What I didn’t realize is that I would join a team where everyone was just as excited as I was to start each workday.

People first, no exceptions

When I first heard about Redbrick, I was immediately attracted to the overall positive language used to describe the company. I was in the core-year of my commerce degree at the University of Victoria, a pivotal year for all students in the program as they race to secure a co-op position that aligns with their interests. The flourishing presence of the tech sector in Victoria definitely persuaded me to apply to tech companies in town. When I began my job search, it was important to me to work for a company with a people-first focus – one in which the employees are valued as one of the company’s greatest assets. When I was applying for co-ops in the last semester of my core year, I focussed on companies known for having a great culture. Although I was interested in the tech industry, the application process was daunting as I didn’t have any previous experience.

Ready, Set, Remote 

As a member of the Spring 2020 cohort of co-op students, I joined the team as Redbrickers were learning to collaborate remotely. Onboarding with a fast-moving company like Redbrick can be overwhelming at the best of times, not to mention doing so while working from home. My eagerness to learn, grow, and innovate was accepted with open arms and ecstatic energy, over Zoom, of course. The learning curve was steep as I came to understand the ins and outs of five companies, navigate new remote processes, and cope with a global health crisis. I attribute much of my success to the teammates who supported me in ways I didn’t know I needed. 

Every day at Redbrick is an opportunity to learn and grow, whether it’s through meaningful feedback, working with new teams, or connecting with coworkers about personal interests. It’s no secret that Redbrick is big on student learning – in fact, 6% of its full-time workforce were once co-op students. Redbrick has built a robust program for business, software engineering, computer science, and humanities students to hit their stride in a fast-moving tech environment. The respect, accountability, and responsibility that I experienced were definitely on par with that of a full-time hire. 

“It’s inspiring to work alongside people who are not only working hard but working beyond expectations. They’re building fun, creative solutions and constantly thinking out of the box.”

As uncertainty ran rampant this past year, I felt at ease knowing that I could lean on Redbrick for support. What began as a four-month work term turned into a full year of fast-paced learning, exponential growth, and meaningful team bonding. When the end of my first four-month term was coming near, and it was evident that my plans to go on an academic exchange in the fall of 2020 were not feasible, I did not hesitate to look to my manager for guidance. From day one, I felt comfortable and confident approaching Olivia, the Marketing Manager at Redbrick, with any uncertainties or subjects that I wanted her expertise on. As a two-person team, we work very closely together, and transparency and communication have been vital components of our relationship. 

Transparency is key 

Knowing that I still had work-term requirements to fulfill, I asked if Redbrick would be interested in continuing my position for another term. Twelve months later, it’s safe to say that conversation went better than I could have hoped. All of the unknowns this past year have reinforced the importance of working in an open and honest environment. Not everything will go as planned, and being able to talk through solutions that benefit everyone is imperative. The flexibility and reassurance that Redbrick offered me during a whirlwind of cancellations and lack of guarantees made all the difference in my personal and professional life in 2020. 

“Redbrick Campus” 

I am in a unique position in which two of my university roommates are also my coworkers at Redbrick. It began as a happy coincidence when my roommate, Jadyn, and I both received offers – mine for a position at Redbrick and Jadyn for a role with Shift, one of Redbrick’s four portfolio companies. Another four months passed, and Jadyn and I extended our work terms due to travel restrictions preventing us from setting off on our academic exchange. The serendipity of living and working together quickly became a running joke as another one of my roommates was hired as a Business and Marketing co-op for Assembly, another one of Redbrick’s portfolio companies. Our university house has since been affectionately named the ‘Redbrick Campus.’

I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to work alongside such incredible influences and witness not only my own personal growth but that of my closest friends. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of everyday life and feel as though your accomplishments are nothing special, and therefore not share them with those around you. Being able to celebrate the wins, no matter how big or small, alongside my friends, has been extremely rewarding. 

Be ready to evolve

The unique organizational structure at Redbrick means that although my roommates and I work together, we are all on separate teams, supporting the key objectives of different companies. Things move fast at Redbrick, and there is plenty of opportunity to own an idea and run with it. One of the most significant evolutions I experienced was ‘Deep Work Wednesdays’ at Shift. Nadia Tatlow, CEO and all-star leader of Shift, decided to cancel all Wednesday meetings in Q4 of 2020 to allow for large blocks of uninterrupted time to concentrate on complex tasks and large projects. This initiative enabled me to plan my schedule with intention and bring forth a more thoughtful and forward-thinking approach to meetings. From planning and executing projects across business units to working asynchronously with team members worldwide, Redbrick helped me develop my work style strategically.

Next steps

During my time at Redbrick, I have gained invaluable experience scaling startups and working with cross-functional teams while being a part of a well-established company. I look forward to building on the skills and experiences that I gained at Redbrick throughout my academic and professional career. 

What’s next for me? Hopefully, I’ll be embarking on an academic exchange term in the fall at the National Taiwan University. As stated by a World Economic Forum report, Taiwan is soaring as an innovation-driven economy focused on future-thinking technology. I am eager and excited to engage with exchange students from around the world and harness our various perspectives to contribute to forward-looking solutions. 

Working for one of Canada’s Top Employers and one of B.C’s fastest-growing companies has set the bar high for the rest of my career. It’s been a joy working with passionate, fun-loving people on products and companies that are loved by millions. It is with immense gratitude that I thank everyone for their friendship, knowledge, and support this past year. I look forward to seeing where the future takes us — it sure looks bright from here.