Conversion Weekend

Mobile DevelopmentWhen you hear the words mobile, upgrade, application, development, launch, Saturday, working, 28 hours…what do you think? Well those were the words that I heard out of the conversation about the M&T Mobile App Upgrade.  Coming into the bank in July I was aware that big things were happening in the technology space.  I was excited to get to be a part of the changes that will help advance M&T as a whole.

As a new employee to the online and mobile technology I was thrown into a lot of different projects with no true role on any of them – except to learn about the technology team and the different areas it supports and covers.  I liked it because it was like the best orientation to the department that I could get.

Because of the way the MDP program was structured I was missing seven of the last eight days leading up to the Mobile Upgrade launch on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of August so I was not able to have a functional role on the launch team but my manager thought that it would be beneficial for me to join the team as they went through the functional testing of the new app during conversion weekend.   I thought this was a good opportunity for me to see how the conversion process worked at the bank so of course I agreed even though I was wishing I could have a role that helped the team launch.

As technology projects go this project had been in the works for nearly four years since the launch of the original M&T Mobile App.  It was exciting because the banks focus of technology was now shifting and more projects like this are on the horizon for the bank – helping to bridge the gap from small community bank to a large bank with a community feel.

Coordinating TeamFlash Forward Three Months: After being with the bank for a few months now, I am pleased to say I had a much larger role on the UI Project. For those that are unaware, M&T just upgraded their online banking platform. I was part of the testing team that came in at 1pm Friday afternoon left around 5 returned around 9pm left around 11pm and returned to work at 4am for another 11+ hour day.  Needless to say, it was a long week that was not over after that.  I returned to work on Sunday at 8am and was supposed to work Veteran’s Day but thankfully the system seemed to be in pretty good shape that my boss decided that it was more beneficial for the team to have the day with family and friends. But though the time seemed long and drawn out it was being a part of the experience for me that was really important.  If you look like you are an employee that is not willing to help out when your team needs it then what value are you adding to the team?

I know that the project would have succeeded without me but I also think my presence helps other people on the team become aware of my teamwork skills and my desire to help wherever I can.  When it comes to an implementation, no job is to small and that is one of the key skills I would recommend to any new employee, future college graduate or just to people in general.  It doesn’t matter what your rank is, what your title is, how long you have been in the business or how long you have been working on projects – team members expect that everyone is going to do everything in their power to get things done.

After seeing the way that the team handles issues that went along with the conversion, the bumps in the road and the smooth portions as well, I came to a conclusion.  A true team, the best kind of team really shows its colors when solving something that is not going perfect.

Team Work on Project TeamsAt the end of a project it is important to complete a lessons learned document to help future projects improve and learn from the past.  One of my biggest lessons learned is communication.  Simple things like sending out an email, making sure everyone is called or is calling into a status call, giving detailed instructions when something has changed etc.  Everyone gets tired especially when you are up for 24 hours straight.  In the real world, most people are not programmed to function for the all-nighters like they could in college.   Making sure that everyone is doing what they need to in order to be the most efficient is so crucial to the success of a project. What was really nice to see on this project was the reactions to difficulties.  There were team members bending over backwards in order to get a server fixed or to code a fix for a problem that was coming up in testing.

The effort that went into coordinating both the Mobile projects deployment and the Online Banking platform takes an amazing project manager as well as an awesome team from the management level to the developers to the testers to the project leads to the off-shore team.  I am so fortunate to have been able to learn from the experience.

Social “Studies” on the Go

The evolution of technology truly is amazing.  This past week I was on vacation in Florida for the Easter holiday.  I was missing class, which is something that I usually do not like to do.  My last quarter at RIT is extremely busy; I am currently taking 24 credits (yes you are all probably thinking “you’re crazy!”). But sadly I am obsessed with learning new things. digital classes

How many of you can say that your classes utilize hashtags on Twitter so that you can keep up with your classmates?  At RIT, especially within Saunders college marketing  program and classes are beginning to utilize hashtags for classes to continue the discussion outside of class.  My class hashtags currently are:

  • #ritaim
    • Advanced Internet Marketing
    • #ritsm
      • Social Media
        • On my travels I was able to watch a live tweet session by my class and professors during a presentation by Ryan Looysen on social media for businesses.
        • #digent
          • Digital Entrepreneurship
            • This is not just my class hashtag; however, my Professor developed it a few year back when the Digital Entrepreneurship class was first run.  We use a website designed to bring those with digital business minds together in forums.
            • Do you know someone with an idea for a web business? They may be able to find creative like-minded people to progress the idea.

I will say most of the information does requires having an internet connection and one place I stayed on my trip did not have internet, but I guess that is what my iPhone is for.  Most of my work could be done offline (aside from anything social media related) and then uploaded when we arrived at the location with Internet.  Even this blog post was done offline and then uploaded when I arrived at my destination.

I think the way technology has transformed the way we do work is amazing and I think that colleges need to start taking that into consideration.  For me, most of my work for the agency I work at can be done out of the office (when I have internet).  If this is the case than why should homework for classes really be any different?  RIT does a great job with their marketing students preparing them for different situations; however, there are some professors that do get extremely angry if you are missing class or using social media.  I find using my iPad or iPhone to tweet in class a good piece of information is good practice for community management (future career I am looking into).

In my opinion most information is already online; except really for my major because it constantly changing.  Majors like accounting and finance and science based majors (though practices may change) the theory is all relatively the same it is just a matter of how you learn it.  Social media, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), online marketing and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can all be learned through blogs, tutorials and webinars.  Why not learn your trade on the medium you are going to be using.  Our field is such that the second a textbook is printed on any of the above topics it is obsolete.


Social Media Today created an infographic that highlights who is using social media in the classroom.  It found that Twitter is the most under-used social media tool in the classroom. How are professors using social media to enhance student’s education?

  • Share resources outside of class time and then hopefully gain a reaction from students.
  • YouTube is a widely used medium in the classroom for its wide variety of videos.

So, how would you like to tweet for a grade? Colleges are starting to see digital marketing, new media marketing, online marketing, and community management are growing fields in the world, so why not offer a major for this type of career path?  I know at RIT I have take social media courses, online marketing courses, digital business courses and internet marketing courses to gain a little bit of all the pieces of the “online marketing career field”.  The problem is finding the right people to teach the young field.  What makes an “expert” and makes someone qualified to teach the field that is ever changing.

To me it seems crazy that I could essentially do all my work remotely and tweet and blog for grades; then again, I am a New Media Marketing major, and I love every bit of it.