By UVic co-op students Lauren Feyer & Maheen Arif

Everyone’s familiar with the feeling of nervous excitement that comes with the first day at a new job. A typical onboarding process has always, up until now, featured a tour of the office, being assigned to a workspace, and the daunting introduction to the team. For a co-op student, this is an especially important process as this is often one of their first office experiences.

For us, and many other co-op students, remote onboarding was uncharted territory. As of right now, our entire co-op experience has been online. Interviewed online through zoom, onboarded remotely, and working from home every day has created a unique environment for our respective co-op roles.

As a small, tight-knit team, cultural fit is essential to success at Foundry Spatial. However, in light of this unique scenario, we were posed with the intimidating challenge of integrating ourselves into a team we’d never physically met. The usual co-op situation would have been arriving at the Victoria office at 9:00 AM on a Monday morning to see our team members. Instead, the new situation involves checking in online at 9:30 AM for our weekly Monday meeting from our respective home offices in Calgary, Victoria, North Vancouver and Toronto.

What would have been office chit chat now takes place on our office slack channels and messages. In a team favourite slack channel, #boiler-dreams, team members contribute reviews on restaurants around the city, pictures and recipes of their cooking. Those who can’t cook contribute likes on the pictures shared by those who can. Some other Slack favourites are #sinama, which is named after our team-member Sina for discussions about tv shows and movies, #cast-party to talk about the latest podcasts, and #dadjokes, which speaks for itself.

Establishing a professional relationship with someone is certainly a lot easier to do when you work with them every day. Recognizing that, Foundry Spatial has implemented team-wide events that help us to connect with those we don’t work with daily. The Weekly Challenge gives us the chance to connect one-on-one with a team member by pairing us up with someone different each week to discuss an engaging question or topic. As it turns out, what someone would bring with them to a deserted island gives you some pretty good insight into their character – and their likelihood of survival.

Despite our lack of tenured skill, Thursday Team Board Games allow us to engage in some friendly competition and office banter with the rest of the group. We even once made it to the winner’s circle in a game of, a triumph we will mention at any opportunity we get. Finally, though some of the questions are admittedly far before our time, we bring to the table the “youthful knowledge” (their words, not ours) that serves our Tuesday Trivia competitive edge.

For us, online onboarding and remote work have been a change from the status quo. However, everything at Foundry Spatial is done with intention and that reigns true for the onboarding experience we underwent. As a result, four co-op students in four different cities were successfully integrated into a tight-knit team and set up for success during a remote work term.

New Team Members

Shawn Wang is our Software Development co-op student. He joined the team with a background in software development and GIS data science. He is currently completing his BSc in Computer Science with a Software Engineering specialization at the University of Victoria. Shawn was our only local onboard from Victoria, BC. We love to see his orange cat, Chairman Mao join in on our meetings. Shawn enjoys hiking, practicing Muay Thai, and keeping his cat entertained with his Roomba.

Lauren Feyer is one half of our Marketing and Communications co-op team. Onboarded from North Vancouver, she is currently completing her Bachelors of Commerce with a specialization in International Business at the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business. Her dog Heidi, a Husky German Shepherd cross, is often mistaken for a wolf by team members when she pops into video calls to say hello. When she’s not working, Lauren enjoys taking her wolf for runs and hikes, going to spin class, and taking photographs.

Maheen Arif is the other half of our Marketing and Communications co-op team. She is currently in the process of completing the last term of her Political Science degree with a Business minor at the University of Victoria. She was onboarded from Calgary and has recently returned to Victoria. In her free time, Maheen likes to explore the island and share hiking pictures on slack, struggle through runs and fitness classes, and plan her next trips abroad.

Alex Desplanque is our farthest onboard, joining our team all the way from Toronto. She is our UXD co-op student currently completing her Masters of Information in User Experience Design at the University of Toronto. She has quite a varied background from her previously completed degrees in Semiotic Anthropology and Environmental Design. Alex has three cats; Bailey, Alonzo and Augustus, all named after the T.S Elliot poem, ‘The Naming of Cats.’ Alex likes playing video games, pretending she’s good at bird watching, and making pickles.

Original article was published at