Alicia went from intern to full-time employee and continues to make impressive strides with community engagement at Groupon.
You started here as an intern, so now that you’re an employee, what’s different? I’ve been very lucky to get to work with an unbelievable team of mentors and peers these past two years at Groupon, all of whom have played a part in making this transition from intern to full-time employee a relatively seamless one for me. I’d have to say that the biggest difference between being an intern and a full-time employee is the sense of autonomy and ownership over my work. As an intern, I definitely felt that my work was important, but if something was left unfinished, it wasn’t like the world was going to crumble. In my role now, I really do feel that I’ve been given a great opportunity to develop an entire program and truly make it my own. I am able to create work in the spaces that I find holes and see my ideas come to fruition. But with this newfound ownership and creative freedom comes an expectation to do something impactful. There is now a whole new set of pressures to continue to produce even better work than your last, but that’s what makes it exciting.
Groupon recently hit 15,000 volunteer hours for 2014 (awesome!). What was your role in that initiative? Last year, I contributed 126 hours of volunteering. I actively participated as an individual in the Employee Volunteer Program by mentoring through Spark in the Fall semester, serving my ‘world famous’ Arnold Palmer mix at Sunday Night Supper through Chicago Lights, and joining in on ad hoc volunteer opportunities. I feel very lucky to have grown up able-bodied and have the world at my fingertips; giving back to those who may not have those same opportunities seems to be the least that I can do. I live by a goal to make at least one person smile each day, and volunteering is my way to achieve that.
What has been the most challenging part of your role? The most challenging part of my role has definitely been learning about a business that is growing so rapidly. One of the most exciting parts about working at a tech company is that things move very quickly and there are endless opportunities to create something from nothing. My favorite explanation that I’ve heard on the challenges that come with working in such an ever-evolving environment was when our CEO asked a group, “Who here has kids? What were they like when they were six years old?”
My role with the Employee Volunteer Program is unique in the sense that I get to work with employees all across the business, but it does provide it’s challenges in simply learning what everybody does to make this company a well-oiled machine. Looking back a year ago, I had my eyes set on working for a small non-profit organization or following a passion in student affairs… Little did I know that I would now be working with accountants and engineers and editors and sales reps at a global, public e-commerce company; teaching the charity gal about balance sheets and C++ is not an easy feat.
Where would you like to see EVP in the next year? I am so excited to see the Employee Volunteer Program expand globally this next year with chapters in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Employee volunteerism has truly become an integral part of the Groupon employee experience in our North American offices, and I cannot wait to see the amazing things that employees do out in the community all across the globe. We are in such a uniquely special position working here at Groupon, and it is remarkable to work amongst such talented and brilliant human beings that really have so much to give to our local communities around the world.
Funniest thing you’ve experienced while being here? These past two years I have had the pleasure of interacting with a number of different people across the company, and I can safely say that I work with a bunch of ameatuer comedians (some actually professional, but the rest are ameatuer nonetheless). I’ve experienced a colleague who laughs at his own ‘dad jokes’ and then looks over for confirmation that he really is funny, another colleague who sews his teammates mouse to their mousepad with floss he found in his backpack only after posting ‘Fish Only’ signs on the microwaves in the midst of an office-wide rampage due to stinky lunches, and a Celine Dion karaoke session just when you need a little mental break. My days are filled with nothing short of funny experiences – just ask all of those who can hear my obnoxious cackle ring through the Enchanted Forest.