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Four Lessons From My First Four Months at ApplyBoard

Written by: Diana Chang

4 Months: 120 days. 16 intra-team meetings. 8 company-wide Zoom meetings.

A billion HubSpot notifications. A million BaseCamp tasks and to-do’s crossed off. Thousands of students assisted. Hundreds of partner schools supported. One mission: to #EducateTheWorld. 

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My job as one of four Partner Relations Managers (PRMs) at ApplyBoard entails engaging and collaborating with Canadian secondary and post-secondary institutions, so our AI-powered platform can facilitate even more study abroad opportunities for students around the world. Before expanding on that, I want to share a bit about my background and why exactly being a PRM at ApplyBoard is my dream job, on a dream team. 

Diana Chang, Partner Relations Manager at ApplyBoard

About Me

I kicked off my career as one of two International Admissions and Recruitment Coordinators at Queen’s University, which involved travelling across the globe to promote studying in Canada. It was my first experience in the world of international education, and I’m stoked that my role now gives me the opportunity to build on this experience to help more students and schools. 

Guided by this passion, I started my own consulting company, which aims to connect Canadian institutions with Asia-Pacific students through advancement initiatives, alumni relations, and student admissions. As a Certified Academic Life Coach through Coach Training Edu, I also support students and their families as they navigate the complex admissions processes required to study in Canada. 

I fervently support grassroots causes and am currently serving my fourth year as the Chair of Fundraising for the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia. I also work on special projects for Educating Girls of Rural China, a non-profit organization that empowers girls in rural regions of Western China to escape the cycle of poverty through education. In an effort to cumulate all of these interests, I co-founded the West Coast Opportunity Accelerator, which aims to connect people with professional opportunities.

Diana with fellow Partner Relations Manager, Teeba

What I’ve Learned During My First Four Months at ApplyBoard

To celebrate my first four months at ApplyBoard, here are four gems I’ve unearthed in my short time here—four critical things to look for in any job (and in life).

  1. Colleagues

Capable and likeable are the two ingredients I look for when joining any team. I’m beyond grateful for both my Partner Relations teammates and the inter-departmental friends I’ve made in these first four months. I’m so impressed by their grit, work ethic, and drive. Combined with our virtual hump day get-togethers, they keep me grounded, happy, and sane. 

Diana and Team

Diana and colleagues from the Partner Relations team during a summer visit to ApplyBoard’s headquarters in Kitchener, Ontario.

  1. Clarity

Clarity defines the structure and provides focus in a role. Our team has a weekly list that allows us to transparently review our individual goals and KPIs. This has also served me outside of work, helping me better prioritize, better filter, and better vet what’s strategic and what’s necessary for the big picture. I now ask myself, “Is this necessary?”, “How is this a value-add to the community I belong to?” and “What skill am I gaining from this experience?” On boundary setting: all of the yes. 🙌🏻

Diana and colleague repping ApplyBoard swag.

  1. Culture

From wellness and social committees to a plethora of seminars and volunteer initiatives, I have never once felt disconnected—even as I work thousands of miles away from the rest of my team! I’m located in BC and the ApplyBoard HQ is located in Kitchener, along with having colleagues in over 20 countries around the world.

On my second day at ApplyBoard, I participated in a 500-person company-wide Zoom call, with the CEO kicking off the call by asking people to give gratitude shout-outs. To hear people recognize their colleagues for their great work, and share in their successes, made me feel #allthefeels. 💓

I’m a firm believer that leadership has the responsibility and the privilege to inform and inspire company culture, and ApplyBoard’s leaders demonstrate this daily. Their compassion, humour, and praise keep the entire team motivated and having fun. This has been reflected through a series of recent awards, including ranking #3 on LinkedIn’s 2020 Top Startups List in Canada, being named Canada’s Fastest-Growing Technology Company by Deloitte, and our CMO and COO ranking in three categories on the Forbes Top 30 Under 30 list. While it’s hard to stay afloat with all of these accolades—our leaders and co-founders’ brotherhood, compassion, and humour keep us grounded, humble, and lol-ing.

BC staff

Diana and other ApplyBoard staff based in British Columbia, joining for a socially distanced meet up.

  1. Communication

Like in any relationship, communication is key. That’s why we have weekly check-ins, one-on-ones, and team meetings. We also have side chat groups to support one another and the occasional virtual happy hour because ultimately, you have to like who you work with and who you work for. 

As we transitioned to working from home, and as we continue to evolve towards a more virtual world, being able to cultivate meaningful relationships through regular communication is so important. Being able to connect virtually through clear, strong, and concise communication is key to staying on task and on point—and the entire ApplyBoard Team is committed to making it happen.

Diana and the rest of the Partner Relations Team staying connected through regular video calls

In the last four months, I’ve gained new friends, stretched beyond my comfort zone, and learned the value of colleagues, clarity, culture, and communication. I can’t wait to see what happens next at Canada’s fastest-growing tech company!

Interested in working for the ApplyBoard Team? Check out all of our roles, including some on my team, on the ApplyBoard Careers Page.