Certified Scrum Master (It’s Official)

This last week I made the decision to tackle a certification that will hopefully help me in my next position. After asking a colleague from this summer on their opinion for the most widely useful cert and the most sought after, I landed on the scrum master certification through Scrum Alliance. Surprisingly, I found a course section for that weekend (which was just a couple days away), and completed all the instruction time, coursework, and the final exam by Sunday afternoon. Lightspeed!

Our course covered the principles and values of agile. It covered the scrum values, theory, purpose, team structure, events, and artifacts of scrum. Use cases, quizzes, group activities and examples were peppered throughout the course, keeping the class actively engaged. My instructor, Brett Palmer, was great at keeping it all upbeat and informative, too.

I found it interesting to have the official scrum structure and guidelines laid out in front of me; same with the agile values and principles. Through many helpful examples from the course instructor, Brett, I learned how many users of scrum and agile aren’t actually users of scrum and agile at all! We hammered out all the details and fundamentals over the last two days and found it all to be extremely enlightening ad empowering. When it came to the final certification exam, I was very well prepared.

Maybe in the near future I will consider taking the next level of scrum certification. Maybe some day I’ll start chasing down a PMP, too!

Summer Reflections

As my last day as a 2020 Blizztern ends, I reflect on my wonderful journey of learning over the past 9 weeks. Not only was I immediately embraced into the kindest and most helpful team I have ever known, but I was guided and mentored throughout the entire process. I worked with my mentor early to have defined goals and objectives, I received help when I hit a road block, and I had access to an enormous network of individuals who could share their knowledge and feedback with me at any time.

Product management takes many forms, depending on the company and the individual team you are working on. Product management with the Overwatch game site team was a technically light role that focused more heavily on design. For me, this was a great soft introduction to a new work process, and I am curious to see what a more technical product management role entails.

I am happy to have worked on a variety of projects:

  1. Facilitated and coordinated the on-time deployment of the seasonal OW event page, Summer Games. It is also outperforming 2019 in CTR!
  2. Organized the team research and study data into a searchable mini Confluence database and linked action items to Jira epics. I created templates and help documents for ease of maintenance, and trained the team on it’s use.
    1. This project was presented to many other team leads who were very interested in this project. I helped the Hearthstone implement similar prototype to test on their team, too!
  3. Worked with UX research individuals, engineering members, and global insights team members to learn more about the scope of each team and what their responsibilities are.
  4. Presented my summer project to my team, fellow interns, and colleagues in many meetings. Also discussed my projects during the 2020 intern expo.

Although my time as a 2020 Blizztern is up, I will take my new skills and insights and carry them with me into my next role, whether it be with Blizzard or another awesome company. In the meantime, Fall semester begins in about a week and I’m working with the Blizzard recruitment team and my professional network to find a permanent full-time position.

Thank you, Blizzard, for this incredibly valuable experience– it has been life-changing!

On Virtual Meetings

In the past weeks working as a Product Management Intern for Blizzard I have discovered the real art of planning and running meetings in a virtual working environment. So far, I have been in charge of directing internal meetings for sprint planning (preview, review, etc), backlog and bug grooming, and others. I have also planned and run meetings externally for cross-team collaboration such as weekly global publishing sync meetings, and several presentation and review sessions for my summer data organization project.

Remote work is tough for all of us for a variety of ways. Sometimes we’re distracted by house chores, social media, or our Amazon shopping cart. Other times we find it hard to focus or stay engaged with an image of someone on a screen, or sometimes only the sound of their voice.

Here are few things I found useful for learning, preparing, and running these meetings.

Video on, and look into the camera!

It is hard to read a room when you can’t get feedback from body language; smiles, gestures, eye contact all of this is critical when you’re leading a discussion or presentation. Even though most meeting participants will have themselves muted during a meeting, it’s good to see smiles if you made a funny or nods of approval if you’re asking for confirmation. With video enabled in meetings, things just feels more polite, genuine, and shows some proof of engagement. Silence is hard enough to handle virtually, going in blind too just doesn’t work well!

Have a clear agenda, take notes, and share them with attendees

Having a structured agenda helps participants know what to expect, it keeps you on track, and it ensures you will address all meetings goals without forgetting any details. Sending out meeting minutes or notes serves as a reference and reminder for those who may have been tasked with something. Give an extra few minutes for questions, “parking lots”, or comments at the end of a meeting; and include those in the notes too!

Attitude is everything

Learning how to lead a meeting is tough. For me, I learned to walk the walk. On top of knowing how to lead is also knowing how to keep an upbeat, engaging, and positive attitude. Luckily that second part wasn’t hard for me, but joining a team as an intern and being told to start leading everyone is rather intimidating. Having my agenda (point I made above) helped me a lot in getting used to the flow of leading meetings, and keep track of what topics I should be covering.

Those three things have helped me immensely this summer in being a successful leader for meetings with anywhere from 1-50 people! If you lead meetings, or participate in them, try implementing a new technique to keep your listeners engaged and on track.

Happy Friday!

Over the Hill

My first formal review is done! My team is happy with me, and I am happy for their support and transparency. Here we are, halfway through week 6 of the Blizztern program. I can’t believe I only have 3 more weeks left; it feels like I just got here. My project is coming to a good hand-off point, and I have trained my team on its functions and how to maintain it. Next week I’ll present to the team leads since they might be interested in implementing my search tool too. Over the next couple of days, I’ll polish up the present version to the final product!

Uncertainty is in the air, and anxiety is on the rise for what comes next. In the Fall I am enrolled in an elective “Linux Fundamentals” course. I’m also thinking about taking a couple of extra elective courses later because they look relevant and fun! There’s an elective for game development, which might be really cool to experience.

Happy Friday!

Short and Sweet

As my third week interning at Blizzard comes to an early holiday weekend close I realize I only have 6 weeks remaining! Time is flying, but I couldn’t be happier with the team, the culture, and work. It is such a refreshing change to have everything I’ve wanted in a job: a mentor, a positive work environment and culture, mobility, and compelling projects and products. I’m pretty much on cloud 9.

I have a few goals this summer:

  1. Manage and coordinate the deployment of a seasonal OW event page.
  2. Architect a searchable database for past study data and findings in Confluence while linking action items to Jira. Create templates, help documents, and teach the team how to use and maintain it.
    1. Use my shiny new search tool and DB to make meaningful connections for product moving forward.
  3. Work with UX research team to learn the process for studies and some data analytics.
  4. Present my summer project information to my team, fellow interns, and colleagues.

I’m so happy so far because I’m ahead of schedule for my PM deployment project, and I’ve got an approved architecture for the study database and I’ve already moved more than half of it over! The rest is just polish, standardizing data entries, and adding more small improvements for user experience!

Interning remotely certainly has its challenges, and I hope to continue to make meaningful connections with my teammates for the remainder of the program. Although it certainly isn’t the same as being there in person, I think everyone is doing a pretty good job considering the circumstances. Next week is a performance review; it feels like I just got here!

Pre-Internship Jitters

Things are starting to feel real; I received a shipment of all my hardware from Blizzard today! I’m racking my brain wondering about the kind of work I’ll be doing every day. There is an everpresent concern that I need to be an all-star immediately. I’m trying my best to remember this is intended to be a learning experience! I’ve never done product management before and I’m here to be a sponge.

It’s only the weekend between me and my start date now.