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A Grasshopper’s Tale: Summer Studentship at NextDigital

Posted by: Next Digital  |  Aug 28, 2015

 

Hello! My name is Matthew Field, and I’ve just spent four months as one of Next Digital’s summer students. I am halfway through the 2-year Network Engineering Technology diploma at NAIT, so I jumped at the opportunity to trade slinging smoothies for industry experience. Let me tell you why I’ve become a huge fan of this place!

My first impression of Next Digital was “Wow, this is what Google would look like if it employed 50 Edmontonians”. A colorful, open, bright workspace with sincere, honest people quickly helped me feel welcome, made me feel there was a place just for me. In fact, on my first day, one of the partners made a point of taking me out for lunch to get to know me better!

The social atmosphere is warm, friendly and supportive, while the professional side of the office is taken seriously and with pride in one’s work. Until now, I’ve imagined that the ever-elusive “work-life balance” is what one does to keep them harmoniously compartmentalized; Next Digital’s team has created a workspace that cultivates a healthy communication between the two. People stay late, they come in early, their wives and husbands casually drop in and mingle. The break room often hums with chatter, laughter and sounds of ping-pong & pool. People seem like people instead of coworkers. I really can’t say enough about the corporate culture, I’ve never seen anything like it until now – and many of my colleagues with industry experience agree that Next Digital has made a successful conscious effort to cultivate a human-friendly, nurturing environment in which to belong, grow, take ownership and excel.

Ownership at Next Digital deserves its own small paragraph. As a technician, you are strongly encouraged to take the maximum amount of ownership of all the issues you encounter. Get a ticket you don’t know the answer to? You had better exhaust your critical thinking and research skills before you waltz over to your senior technicians, expecting to drop it on their lap and go on your way. The mentality is “The problem is yours; stay with it, push through it, learn about it, and if you can’t get it done then ask for help.” Not that senior resources are unwilling to help, that they won’t work things out themselves if you can’t, but they aren’t going to do your work for you – and this is a good thing. I don’t have an easy escape if things get hard, and my efforts are ultimately rewarded with the satisfaction of owning the solution in the end.

Now on the educational side of things, bearing in mind I’m a summer student midway through school, I can sum it up quite simply: Working at Next Digital with no previous industry experience is like drinking through a firehose. Of delicious [insert favourite beverage here], but a firehose nonetheless. I had to hit the ground sprinting for the first week, running for the next, and I still feel like I’m at least jogging almost every day – just with learning and keeping up!  I had expected to do lot of reading (I have!), but I’ve been pleasantly surprised that a major knowledge and wisdom source has been my coworkers. The amount of tricks, backdoors, best practices, warnings and anecdotes this group have collectively accumulated is staggering, and they’re all so generous in sharing with others. Knowledge hogging isn’t a practice in these parts, and this is great! Information flows, people learn new things, problems get solved. In short, synergy flows in this team.

Tech Centre Analyst at Next Digital has been the most challenging position I’ve ever held. Our clients expect reliable, high performance services and Next Digital’s team works hard to deliver. They hold themselves to high standards, and so do I. My summation of a summer’s worth of Tech Centre Analysis is perhaps best paraphrased by Next Digital’s unofficial motto, Improve Thyself. This phrase hangs above the Tech Centre, along with the company’s values of Respect, Honest, Integrity, and reminds us all that we can be better than we were yesterday. I am hugely grateful to Next Digital and Andrew Jackson in particular for giving me a priceless opportunity for four short months. See you all on the flip side!!