CO-OP Work term from Summer 2019 to Fall 2019
During my first two work terms, I was hired as a Web Application Developer at a company called Kenna. I began my work term in May 2019 and ended in late December 2019 (a total of 8 months). This report will give you an overview of my time at Kenna, including my goals for the term, my overall takeaway and my general experience working at such a fast-paced, innovative company in my first CO-OP term.
Kenna Technology Solutions/Kenna Communications LP (stylized and more commonly known as kenna) are a full services marketing and technology solutions company, which, specializes in customer relationship management.They aim to help provide businesses develop an effective, unified and elegant customer experience through a wide variety of dynamic marketing and technology-based solutions (e.g custom websites, sales/data management systems, brochures, graphic design services etc..).
The Kenna Logo
Kenna has been around since the 80’s first being founded in 1985 and is owned by New York based MDC Holdings. However, despite being owned by another company based in the United States,
Kenna very much feels like a small start-up, providing its employees (called Kennadians) with a fun filled, relaxed atmosphere chalked full of benefits, events and overall interesting to do alongside their work.
One of Kenna’s largest clients is BASF Canada, the Canadian branch of the German chemical giant and its projects are the ones that I most closely worked with. Kenna currently develops a whole slew of specialized tools and provides a lot of additional services for them, including, but not limited to being in charge of developing their Canadian customer facing websites. BASF is one of the world’s largest chemical goods company, earning an excess of €62 Billion of revenue globally in 2018.
(From left), me, Prisha Rathi,
Stephen Hwang, Thomas Arsenault and
all failing to do a "boomerang".
At Kenna, I was hired as a Web Application Developer, which is a position that mainly focused on helping design and develop various web experiences on both the frontend (HTML, JS, CSS) and the backend (JS, mySQL). I was able to get a taste of everything at my time at Kenna, I was initially doing exclusively frontend development on some of their legacy systems/websites, however, I was quickly transitioned away from that task to be inducted into a brand-new project that Kenna was undertaking at the time. This project was centered on using React, Node and mySQL as opposed to their legacy systems, not to mention that this technology stack was completely new to the company at the time. As such, since I was one of the few with limited experience in both React and Node, I was put in-charge of setting up and creating the first parts of the app so that the project could be somewhat up and running before other developers joined in (many of whom had never used React or Node before). This was a nerve-wracking task at first as I didn’t know much about the technologies myself, however, it was super rewarding once I had completed the initial set up and I really appreciated the fact that my manager trusted me enough to put me on such a monumental task.
This was a big theme at Kenna, treating CO-OPs as if they were just regular full-time developers and giving them tasks that they would give other developers in the company, essentially, not treating them as second class citizens. Another great example comes from my final project at the company, an internal app that was developed for BSAF, I was one of 3 developers involved in its development, and as such, a number of my suggestions about design, UI elements, background processes, etc. were all applied to the project and my manager respected and took all my suggestions, critiques and ideas for the project seriously, deeply involving me in the project and with the meetings/business decisions that took place around it.
Most of what I learned at Kenna wasn’t something school had prepared me much for, I had learned a bit of NodeJS from CIS*2750, but mostly, everything else was stuff I had to pick up on my own time or at the company itself (ReactJS, mySQL, working with other developers/people, voicing my ideas, etc..), however, I’m glad that I was somewhat underprepared for these challenges, as it made the work term all the more rewarding.
A couple of the CO-OPs working
I had set a handful of goals and learning outcomes for myself over the past 8 months, many of which revolved around technical literacy.
however, a sizable amount of them were focused on people/interpersonal skills. These included various soft skills that I found lacking within myself;
communication with others about my ideas, communicating technical ideas to non-technical people, my ability to work in many different and diverse teams, etc...
Here are a couple of the goals I'm most proud of below:
My Desk At Kenna
These newly developed skills are all transferable to my next work term as things like, communicating with others concisely/clearly, alongside with bringing up and proposing ideas are universal aspects of any job, meaning these soft skills will transfer very easily. Additionally, the technical knowledge I gained through my work experience in React, JS, CSS, Node, mySQL, all are as equally transferable in most, if not all development positions I am happy to report I was successful in completing all of my goals that I set out to do over these 8 months with the help and support of my managers and co-workers!
The development CO-OPs at Kenna's annual holiday party
Working at Kenna for the past 8 months is absolutely one of the most rewarding things I’ve done so far in my university career, and I have nothing but praises for the company and the people I worked with. I was able to learn so many new technologies and was able to develop many soft skills, many of which I would never have been able to fully realize without being in such an open, collaborative and supportive work environment.
Being able to explore many different facets of Web Development was super important to me and I was able to openly achieve that at Kenna, additionally, the skills I learned at Kenna are all transferable to many different kinds of jobs and sectors within Computer Science and I am enterally grateful to Kenna, and all its people for the opportunity. This was the best first work term experience anyone could ever ask for and I am indebted to the University of Guelph CO-OP program for allowing me to have such an opportunity.
I would like to acknowledge, and thank Gurneet Saggu and Andrew McCallum for supporting me and encouraging me to complete my learning outcomes/goals while at Kenna freely and openly, and for being such supportive managers, always available and open to talk. I would also especially like to thank Prisha Rathi , Sonia Singh, Syed Hussain , Stephen Hwang, Thomas Arsenault and Aurtheysh Amaranath along side all the other wonderful people and CO-OPs I had the pleasure of working with over the 8 months! You guys are all great!