How Spending Two Months in the Philippines Made Me Better at my Job
On July 18th at 10:45am, I landed back in America after spending two months in the Philippines. My time abroad felt like it flew by (once it was over), and I came back with memories, skills, and friends that I plan to keep for many years to come.
Some backstory though, for those who may be wondering why I was there. Near the middle of the Fall semester in 2016, I was in the classroom, waiting for the professor to arrive. As I sat there pondering the mysteries of creation, I remembered a conversation I had with my co-worker Zach.
Long story short, Zach suggested I talk with my boss Tony about working with an IT company in the Philippines. This company, Zeniark, build out bulk website pages and assists in providing redesign and custom back-end services for many clients.
Since I am working towards an IT degree at George Mason, Zach said I should ask Tony to fly me out there and work with them for a summer. So, figuring that it wouldn't hurt to ask, I pulled out my laptop and sent off an email to Tony.
I outlined why I felt like it would be beneficial to send me over there to learn, not only for myself, but for Direct Development (the company I currently work for) and Zeniark as well. After many conversations on logistics and learning objectives, we bought tickets and began to look for places to live in the Philippines for two months.
With logistics out of the way, I touched down in the Philippines and hit the ground running. My first week in the office looked very similar to my job back in the States, though shifted by 12 hours. I still had all of my client work to do, and the first few weeks was actually some of the busiest times I've had in all my time working for Direct Development.
It was perfect timing.
With so much client work needing to be developed, I had the opportunity to communicate face-to-face with many highly-skilled developers that I had only talked with over email. Over the next seven weeks, I would clarify and advise these developers as they received work from the States. Everything from platform-specific best practices to prioritizing projects.
Each day, I got a better picture of Zeniark's process and they began to understand more of what we expected in finished products. This was only possible by me being physically present and them becoming more comfortable with asking me questions and pursuing clarification.
Not only was I able to correct mistakes and adjust directions on the fly (due to my familiarity with how we do work back in the States), but they were also able to show me, and my team, more efficient ways to assign projects and tools to use that make website development a cleaner process (e.g. Sketch and Zeplin).
Fast-forward to the end of July, when I come back to America and get to summarize my travels and experiences with my team.
After explaining Zeniark's overall process and giving them an inside look into how they work, my team had to make some slight changes so that projects we send over are sent in a way that reduces confusion and mistakes.
Shortly after, I was promoted to Marketing Technology Manager and really took the lead in all projects sent to Zeniark and explaining to people how we can make our project assignment process more efficient.
I would continually check work both sent by my team and the product returned by Zeniark, and make sure that it met our satisfactory criteria.
So, how did my time there make me better at my job? Well, I'll keep it short and sweet.
I learned to look at the small details and check for functionality (I want a 12-year-old to be able to work with our products).
I learned how to prioritize projects, both for myself and for my team.
I learned more about how Zeniark's process works (from receiving the project, to Q&A, to sending it back to us) and was able to adapt our process be more efficient.
I learned about how we need to emphasize certain parts of each project and how certain elements weren't given enough importance.
And finally, I gained confidence not only in my web development skills, but also in how I manage people and projects for a variety of clients.
While there is a lot more to say, I want to keep it limited to the above five points. I would not be in the position I am today without having spent time learning and teaching others over the summer. I will never forget all those who made it possible, and thank both DD and Zeniark for giving me that opportunity to grow and refine my skills.