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Earlier this year, COVID-19 took the world by storm, and practically everyone was impacted in some way or another. The level of uncertainty for what the next few months of our life would look like had never been higher, and we all had no idea what was in store for us.
As an international student scrambling to pack all my belongings in Los Angeles and jump on a plane back home to Bangkok, I had no idea what my coming summer, year, or even remaining undergraduate career may possibly begin to look like. Unsure of when I’ll be able to enter the country I dedicated the first years of my further education to, it was difficult to look at the brighter side of things, or even figure out what that brighter side even was.
For many undergraduate students, quality summer internships are what we spend a lot of our time working towards to propel us to our dream careers, and for many of us, COVID-19 took many of these opportunities away. Feeling lost and confused, I searched tirelessly for opportunities that provided me with professional growth and real experience, and I had no idea that a simple referral from a friend and a short application to iX Remote led me directly to what I was searching for.
Milind Gandhi - USC
As a rising junior who recently became deeply fascinated by Product Management, I viewed the 6-week Product Management course with iX to be an ideal way for me to spend my summer: I’d get real-world experience from an internship in the field, learn from world-class experts, and have access no matter where I was in the world. Many important factors shaped my experience and helped me grow both personally and professionally, but there were a few that certainly stood out:
Outstanding Instruction: Despite the limitations of not having access to a real classroom, I never felt more engaged in a class before this. My instructor, Johann van Tonder, an incredibly successful COO and a seasoned educator of the highest level, used his experience, passion, and excitement in the field to keep us motivated, and his countless stories kept us intrigued by the possibilities that our futures in Product Management could hold. This class wasn’t about tests or grades, but rather it was fuelled by learning from real case studies and using real PM tools and practices to give us a glimpse of what a successful career in PM looked like and helped us prepare for it. Johann, and our incredible TAs, encouraged us to view learning in this class as a product of our dedication and drive for personal and professional growth, and I certainly grew a lot over the weeks.
Engagement with Peers:To be completely honest, my expectations weren’t super high when it came to actually getting to know my peers on a personal level. It was a completely virtual environment, and I was on the other side of the world than most of them anyway! Despite my initial expectations, I actually had a great time getting to know my peers and was able to foster a few friendships as well. iXperience put on several engaging community events that allowed me to meet people from other courses, and the discussions and breakout sessions during class allowed me to get to know my fellow classmates. Additionally, we were split up into project teams and internship groups for much of the course, and our meetings 3-4 times a week gave me the chance to work directly with other students as well. Tackling challenging real-world problems and completing deliverables every week allowed for interesting discussions (and often lively debates), and I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with other like-minded students who also strived to get more involved in the PM realm as well.
Real Internship Experience: Product Management is all about digging as deep as you can into understanding the problems that many people share and thinking creatively and with a high degree of innovation to create solutions that fulfil their needs. As can be imagined, the best way to get an authentic taste of what Product Management might look like is through real-world experience, and that’s precisely what the iX Remote Internship provided for me. I was placed on a team of 5 students who were paired with a responsible-travel company in Lisbon and was given the task of reframing their responsible volunteer travel experiences in Europe to a senior audience. While I knew close to nothing about the responsible travel experience and the needs and pain-points of senior individuals while abroad, tackling this challenge represents what Product Management is all about. Our team used many of the principles, tools, and techniques from our class that real Product Managers use today, and we were able to put ourselves in the shoes of our prospective users and create a program that truly satisfied their needs. Without iX Remote, I certainly wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have so much creative freedom while solving real problems for businesses while simultaneously learning the ropes from industry experts who were always there to support me.
All in all, iX Remote simply swept all my expectations away. The individual attention and personal support truly shaped this experience to be one that not only benefited me during the 6-week course but certainly for the long run as well.
With the world slowly changing around us, opportunities like iX Remote are what it’s all about: curious students and passionate educators who don’t let the circumstances slow them down, but rather keep their push for learning and growth. Connecting with and learning from others is possibly even more accessible in this digital age, and I know that iX Remote is a fantastic place to start.