I moved to Canada in the Summer of 2012.
Why I chose Vancouver over the myriad of other destinations I’m not particularly sure. A vague longing for sunshine and the prospect of meeting some distant relatives played their part but it in May, it loomed an intimidating and risky move. Thankfully and somewhat luckily, two weeks after my arrival on the West Coast, I found myself settled in Vancouver’s eastern district, with an interview in the University of British Columbia scheduled for the following Monday. The postion involved joining a team working within the well known MAGIC Lab in UBC who were working on developing a multi-platform application for the promotion of sustainable living. Existing primarily as a facebook application, the platform aimed to expand to include versions for the mobile platforms of Android and iOS as well as a standalone web platform. The companies needs fell mainly in the area of graphic design and general UX improvements to the facebook interface and developing the visual identity of the My Everyday Earth project. The aesthetic and interface design of the accompanying Android applications was also on the company’s agenda.
I was delighted to be offered the position shortly after my second interview in the UBC lab and signed a three month contract with Sense Tecnic Systems.
During the course of my employment at STS, I worked with the team on ways to further gamify the experience of sustainable living. This included the creation of many ‘challenges’ such as the ‘Eco Map’ challenge where users were encouraged to contribute to a community map by pinning locations in the Vancouver area that were of interest to the eco-minded community. They would then be rewarded as the map became a collaborative resource of all things green in Vancovuer. Using the Android app, people could even check in to locations to earn further points.
As often happens in small companies, I found myself working on an increasingly broad range of tasks including the graphic design of promotional materials and marketing correspondence. I ran into the challenges of producing graphical html email templates for correspondence and announcements with users.
In my final weeks of involvement with the project, I helped design and prepare a QR code scavenger hunt around the UBC campus aimed at raising awareness of eco-friendly locations among Freshman new to the area. The system allowed participants to scan a QR code at a given location and receive a clue as to the location of the next code. An accompanying interface was built on the web-platform to allow users to keep track of their progress.
I count myself as very lucky to have had this experience with MAGIC and Sense Tecnic. To arrive in a new country in search of work is an intimidating prospect not least for financial reasons but a basic feeling of disconnectedness with your surroundings and a different culture. To have made good so far from home is something I am proud of but I feel to attribute it to some sense of employability or my own usefulness to a company would be overlooking something. For every area that I improved in UBC, I found another that I had not yet explored. I look forward to the opportunity taking this experience into other areas, jobs and companies. I only hope my good luck will follow also.