4 Lessons I Learned During My Co-Op Term at Plum
I first learned about Plum through the Career and Co-Op Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University, where I’m currently in my third year of studies for my Bachelor of Business Administration. I’ve always wanted to try working at a tech start-up, so when I discovered the Marketing Coordinator role at Plum, I knew it would be the perfect fit for my second co-op term.
After meeting with the team at Plum, I discovered that the role would cover everything from digital strategy to content generation, with a keen focus on drawing insights from data. I knew it would be an ideal way to gain exposure to many sides of marketing in a growth stage start-up, which would help me figure out where I want to steer my career.
I started at Plum in January and will wrap up my co-op at the end of April. Looking back, I can confidently say I could not have picked a better team or company for my second co-op term.
Though it’s hard to summarize just how much I will take away from this experience, here are four lessons I learned during my co-op term at Plum:
1. Leverage your talents
Before working at Plum, I had always reflected on what I wanted from a role, but never what I brought to one. During the hiring process, I completed my Plum Profile, which showcased my three top talents: Embracing Diversity, Communication, and Innovation. Armed with this new self-insight, I was able to lean into these talents and figure out ways to leverage them in my work.
Channeling Innovation was not hard to do on the marketing team. In fact, it was something we did in most meetings. However, my true time to shine when it came to Innovation was in the long-term project I was assigned for the duration of my co-op term. I proposed a strategy to help analyze our existing contacts in our CRM system and was able to create a new solution for sales and marketing to leverage when diving into our contacts.
Understanding others’ perspectives and making others feel comfortable is something I’ve always been good at. Therefore, I was not surprised to learn that Embracing Diversity was my top talent. I was able to leverage this talent by helping to plan team socials, also known as Plum “Happy Hours”. I successfully planned two game show themed socials for the entire Plum team – Family Feud and Jeopardy. I also got to lean into my Communication talent when I hosted the games!
Although planning Happy Hours was outside my usual job description, it was something I really enjoyed doing, and I found it extremely rewarding to see my team members having such a great time together – even over Zoom! It really solidified for me that leaning into your natural talents and communicating with your employer about what you enjoy doing really allows you to get the most from your experience.
2. Your attitude is everything
I quickly learned that showing enthusiasm about tasks signals to others that you’re up for new challenges and makes them more likely to give you a chance to grow. I had so many amazing opportunities to learn new things because of my positive attitude.
About six weeks into my co-op, I was asked by our Customer Success team if I wanted to dedicate four hours a week to help with their initiatives. I enthusiastically answered, “Yes!” and spent the next two months working on over a dozen interesting projects - my favourite being the creation of two platform walkthrough videos. These videos will be used to show current customers, potential clients, and investors a detailed view of the Plum platform. I loved being able to flex my communication muscles once again!
This experience showed me that while the quality of your work is important, your attitude is what really makes you successful.
3. Focus on the journey, not just the destination
While I’d like to pursue a career in marketing, I don’t picture myself in a specific role ten years from now. Working at Plum has exposed me to many different facets of marketing, allowing me to build skills that will help me in my marketing career, no matter my final destination.
I learned technical skills by working with our digital agency. I became confident in my ability to create, launch, and analyze LinkedIn and Google Ads. I built reporting dashboards to help my team analyze how our marketing initiatives were performing. And, I strengthened my writing skills by creating social posts and writing this blog.
I also experienced a level of autonomy that I never had before this role. It helped me to see that even if the work feels daunting, or you fear an outcome, if you focus on producing the highest quality of work and learning through the process, you will never fail. My supervisor gave me full autonomy in my tasks and the opportunity to take initiative. By seeing how much trust she had in me, I gained confidence in owning my tasks, and realized that I really thrive by having a sense of ownership in my work.
4. Find great mentors to help you develop and grow
Plum takes employee development seriously. Case in point: before I had even started, the Plum team set up a weekly meeting in my calendar for me to discuss my development with my supervisor, Sydney, Plum’s Marketing Specialist.
My weekly Friday meetings with Sydney were the highlight of my co-op term. It was the place where she gave me advice, talked about my tasks for the week, but most importantly, helped me to focus on who this job was helping me become. From my first day, Sydney’s open communication style made me feel like I had a friend and mentor on my co-op journey, and her ability to celebrate our team’s victories always inspired me.
I also learned a lot from Plum’s Content Strategy Manager, Victoria. At the beginning of my co-op term, she scheduled a meeting for us to discuss what content projects I wanted to work on during my time at Plum. I wasn’t confident in my writing abilities coming into this co-op and told her that was an area I wanted to develop more. After I drafted my first piece of content, she celebrated what I had created in our marketing team meeting, which boosted my confidence. She was always there to lift me up and help me become a better writer. And, by the end of my co-op term, I was writing all the captions for our social media posts!
Plum’s CEO, Caitlin, also met with me to talk one-on-one about my development. After discussing my top talents, we talked for over an hour and a half about how to leverage the talents that drive me and how to develop compensatory strategies for the talents that drain me. I was amazed that a CEO would dedicate so much time to helping employees become the best versions of themselves. After our conversation, I used the resources she pointed me towards and have been subscribed to a podcast she recommended ever since.
All in all, the personal and professional development I experienced in just four months at Plum was monumental. I learned so much about myself, what I want from my career, and what I can uniquely contribute to a role. I’m grateful to the entire Plum team for making my experience so wonderful. Each lesson I have learned has undoubtedly helped me set a foundation for success in my future career, and I’m excited to see where the journey takes me!