Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, WIMTACH has continued its efforts to support its Student Researchers to gain experiential learning, job opportunities, employable skills and industry knowledge of digital health sectors. This series will highlight how students and faculty who work with WIMTACH are managing the ongoing changes to their daily lives.
In one week in March, Monish Sidhwani found out that he had successfully applied for the Business Analyst position at WIMTACH for a healthcare IT company that specializes in electronics medical records (EMR). He met most of the WIMTACH Student Researchers, Research Associates, Principal Investigators and fellow Business Analysts that he would be working with throughout the project. Shortly after, however, he found out that he was going to be working from home, which he had never done for such a long time.
“Things changed drastically…in March, I was studying and working so there was a big change doing the classes online and attending all of the client meetings from home. Initially, I felt a bit stressed…When I was working from home, I was not disciplined in the beginning. I would do things whenever I wanted because I know I’m working from home and not in front of anyone. I was taking my own time. [Under normal circumstances] the tasks that were assigned to me I would do them early in the morning, but I was doing them in the afternoon. That was not the right thing because it would hurt the [work] cycle if I have to join the workforce and go back to work [without discipline].”
What helped him get past this initial stage was understanding that the uncertainty is “the new normal”, and it’s worth getting used to. He also found balance between his studies and work, studying on weekends and working during the week. Monish even watched YouTube channel videos to learn about how he could better “manage learning, working online and working from home”, especially because workplaces provide people with discipline. Now, he gets ready for the day “as if I was getting ready for work”. He prepares his lunch, his notes and tasks he has to complete and sets reminders to dedicate 5-6 hours strictly to work in order to increase his productivity.
Monish is a student of Marketing, Research and Analytics, a business graduate program of Centennial College’s School of Business. He is in his last semester, completing his co-op. In his program, he has learned many skills and gained key insights into his industry. Chief among these learnings was how to do a data-driven comparative analysis to drive businesses forward and encourage innovation. Before enrolling in that program, he completed a Project Management program in 2018 to enhance his technical background as an engineer by learning about business intelligence and marketing.
Through WIMTACH, Monish has been able to apply all of the knowledge he has gained in the classroom to real-life projects, including the one he is currently working on.
“When a new requirement comes up in the [EMR IT] project, I think from the perspective of the developers, project managers and marketers. As a marketer, I try to understand what can be the best solution for the company as competitors. As a project manager, I try to understand how important it is to deliver our deliverables on time so that we don’t have to redo timelines and schedules… With a technology background, I use that knowledge to design solutions…This is how I’m using my education at WIMTACH.”
The learning experience at WIMTACH goes beyond the classroom because it is enhanced by the work itself. On the EMR IT project, Monish is responsible for market research, competitor analyses to inform incoming developments, gathering requirements and other technical tasks. He is one of more than 25 students from various Centennial College programs working on it, and one of six Business Analysts on the project. One of the key benefits of working with many people is the numerous opportunities to increase employability and gain insight from industry professionals, students, faculty and WIMTACH industry partners. For Monish, the learning experience has been vast, yet specific.
“I’m learning a lot. On my team, everyone has a tech background. I’ve been away from my tech background for a few years now. One of my colleagues knows automation testing, which I don’t know. So, I’m getting to learn new things from him, [especially because] he’s the tech lead of the team. I try to understand how he understands all of his responsibilities apart from attending extra meetings. I just want to understand how the workflow is and this is something that I want to study next month.”
From his direct supervisor, Professor Kabilen Mullaithilaga, Monish has been acquiring quality assurance and testing and how he should be “writing better user stories and taking requirements from clients”. He’s also learned from the designers and developers on the project, which has helped him acquire more skills that make him stand out in his field.
“How do [the designers] think about the functionalities of the current project? For example, if they want to change the design, how is the user currently behaving and how can their behaviour be improved to improve the design? It’s important for me to understand if I want to continue as a business analyst. From the developers, especially the backend team, I’m learning how to catch bugs, which I didn’t know earlier. This can be useful for me [in my career].
The learning experience has been an all-encompassing one, even as it’s been challenging to communicate and coordinate solutions and ideas with so many people on one project. But for Monish, the best part about the project is that “things are constantly moving.” “There’s no time to worry about things that have not gone as we expected because the client understands that we are all working from home and we can’t regularly interact.”
Unexpectedly, working from home has increased Monish’s confidence in his skillset, future and career as a well-rounded business analyst. Working on the [EMR IT] project has been “something I was looking for for a long time.”
“The things that I’m doing currently on the project are really helpful for me. I’m thinking about…how to improvise beyond the things we’re doing. I’m taking a few online trainings for that. The current new normal has made me understand that it’s really important to be adaptable to the changing environment because we don’t know how long this is going to continue. I’m just trying to be more adaptable for this.”
Monish’s advice is to be adaptable and disciplined in order to maintain a healthy level of productivity.
For more information on WIMTACH projects and services, please visit https://wimtach.centennialcollege.ca/
For updates on WIMTACH’s operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit https://mailchi.mp/d9a20aac07f0/covid-19-update