Three Lessons I Learned as a Tangerine Summer Student

Me and the team at the Tangerine Community Gym event in UBC! The man towering above us is former Lakers player Rob Sacre.

Me and the team at the Tangerine Community Gym event in UBC! The man towering above us is former Lakers player Rob Sacre.

Chinese New Year in 2016 treated me very well. The red pocket money was a lot better than previous years, and I finally decided that it was time to save up, rather than spend it all on clothing and Riot Points. After some lurking on /r/PersonalFinanceCanada, I discovered and opened a chequing account with Tangerine. Its banking model was a perfect fit with the way I wanted to bank - online with no need for branches. A few months and an Indeed job posting later, I was one of the first Tangerine summer students in Vancouver!

My job responsibilities

As a summer student, I had a similar role as the full-time Retail Sales Associate position. I was involved with onboarding and supporting clients at the Vancouver café, and attending street festivals/community events to pitch Tangerine's bank accounts to people passing by.

Being an online bank, Tangerine's retail locations don't offer the same services as a typical bank branch; you won't see any tellers, financial advisors, and appointments at the café. New clients can sign up using one of the iPads, and existing clients can come in for any assistance for their bank accounts. Any troubleshooting with a client's account is done through the phone, and as an associate, I was the liaison between the person I was helping out and the Tangerine call center. 

Occasionally, I was paid to volunteer for Tangerine's community partners, which gave me an insight into the bank's community partnership strategy. Instead of simply writing cheques to non-profit organizations, Tangerine directly goes to their locations to help them out - for example, I spent a day cleaning up the Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House's solar panels!

Being a summer student taught me the important adages of asking questions, pushing my comfort level, and exploring my interests. I gained valuable experience in sales, retail banking, and event marketing throughout my internship, and now I know how amazing TFSAs are! (Don't sleep on them.)

What I also found crucial was finding out how to maximize my summer and time at work. Here are the other things I learned:

1 - Know your co-workers

I had no sales experience prior to Tangerine. Before heading into my first week, I was a bit intimidated by the competitive nature of the role, and how pushy my co-workers might be.

When I began, things turned out differently than I thought it would. I found out that I was starting with three other summer students, and after a day of getting to know them during training, I quickly saw how friendly, hilarious, and supportive they were. We all just wanted to succeed together. My senior co-workers also shared the same qualities, and it was great going to them for support, advice, and laughs as I eased into my internship.

There's also a lot of miscellaneous things you get to learn by just talking to your co-workers and spending time with them. Without them I wouldn't have learned the following:

  • Ride shotgun if the front seat hasn't been taken yet - your friend's not a cab driver

  • Dr. Pimple Popper videos are so satisfying to watch (I'm not alone in saying this)

  • I've been pronouncing Amazon wrong this entire time (aw-may-zon instead of ah-mah-zon)... why didn't anyone correct me before?

Shifts and off-site sales events throughout the summer were always enjoyable at Tangerine, and I attribute that to my incredible co-workers and managers.

2 - It's easy (and fun) to sell something you believe in

The tent at Lansdowne Centre. Tangerine was a sponsor for Fresh Air Cinema's drive-in movie series last year. The pitch: free banking and free money to go along with your free popcorn!

The tent at Lansdowne Centre. Tangerine was a sponsor for Fresh Air Cinema's drive-in movie series last year. The pitch: free banking and free money to go along with your free popcorn!

When we were talking to people at events and street festivals, our pitch was simple: we give them $50 to sign up for a free bank account and try out one deposit. If they don't like it, they can keep the $50, take their deposit out, and cancel the account for free, no strings attached. And if I was in their shoes, I would take the deal! I felt good pushing a product that I knew could walk the walk, and my team consistently surpassed our targets by the end of each event.

I began conversations with the mindset that I was helping people earn free money in exchange for 10 minutes of their time. The future of banking is undoubtedly convenient and digital, so why not spread the message with a bank account I've used and enjoyed? It did wonders for my enthusiasm and attitude when I was pitching bank accounts to strangers throughout the day.

The conversations and environment varied with each event, which challenged me to explore new sales approaches. Some of the summer events and festivals around Vancouver that we attended include:

  • Car Free Days

  • Ships to Shore

  • Carneval del Sol

  • Fresh Air Cinema's Outdoor Movies

  • Slide the City

What I really took from my sales experience at Tangerine was to position yourself in the same team as your customer. Ultimately, you're trying to find and solve their main problem in your conversation (are they looking for free money or are they concerned about a particular product feature before saying yes?). From there, you can communicate and work together as a team toward closing the sale.

3 - Keep yourself busy outside of work

I didn't make full use of the free time I had last summer. For the most part, the role was a part-time position, and I often had two-three days off every week. I tried taking a summer course and quickly realized that online learning wasn't for me. But in hindsight, I could have used that time to learn some code, write on the side, or start up a side project instead.  

That being said, I don't regret how I actually spent my days off. I played basketball, planned a jam-packed weekend at Whistler with my girlfriend, went to a few concerts, and finally finished some books on my reading list. I see the value in taking a part-time opportunity during your first/second year summer to have more days to yourself and simply enjoy the summer before school starts.

This summer, I'm doing things differently. In addition to my full-time internship, I'm looking to develop my digital skillset. I started this blog and signed up for a BrainStation course to gain some hands-on experience in digital marketing!

I'm excited to see where my summer plans take me.

If you're considering applying for a summer student or sales associate position at Tangerine, I highly recommend it! You'll gain exposure in retail banking, sales, and marketing from a top-notch organization, and I'm very grateful for the experience I had with the Vancouver team last summer. 

I started a new internship with the Rick Hansen Foundation last week, and moving forward, I thought it'd be helpful to reflect on my time last year with the bank. You can find current opportunities with Tangerine on their website.

Got any questions about my experience at Tangerine, the interview process, or something else? Send me a message on LinkedIn and let's chat! I'd be happy to help out.

Enjoyed reading this? Check out my recap for TechFest Vancouver 2017