All posts by Hilario Menendez

Final Week at Carnival Cruises

After two and half months of working at CCL, I officially finished my internship today. It’s been an amazing experience that will literally mark me for the rest of my professional career. I didn’t only learn how the corporate world works, but I also have a clearer idea of where I want to go in life.

My last week at the Carnival HQ was not as hectic as the other ones. However, I learned some other key lessons that I’ll never forget. This week I had to do four more projects for my supervisor. Those included presenting the program update to the Director of E-Commerce, doing a QA for a campaign, making a tagging report, and a final report of the projects that the team has to keep updating after I left. From all of these projects there is two worth talking about: the tagging report and the presentation.

The tagging report taught me that is better to do extra work that ‘just enough’. Let me explain. I always had the mentality of ‘Work smarter, not harder’. I still believe in this idea, however, in the corporate world is better to add a lot of extra information than ‘just the necessary information’. This way, after making the presentation or report, you will only have to edit and delete the unnecessary content. In the case of this report it helped me because originally I had done it incorrectly. But since I had included so much information in it, the report was still useful. So at the end, I just had to edit.

The other big project was the presentation. I didn’t present to the VP of E-Commerce but only to the Director of E-Commerce, which is still a huge deal. However, it was way more informal that I had thought. It was in the director’s office and it was me, my supervisor and him. He asked only a few questions and at the end he just said: well done, good job. Then I left the office and that was it. All the countless number of hours editing the presentation came down to 20 minutes in that office. However, I still believe it was a success. I learned that in a program update like that, information has to be so clear and complete that there shouldn’t be the need to ask questions. So all those hours editing it were worth it!

At the end, this internship marked me not because of the projects I did, but what I learned in the process of making them. It was an incredible experience that changed my career path and made me realize how the real world works. I am incredibly grateful to my supervisor for have given me this amazing opportunity and I can’t wait to repeat it.

One Week Left

The past two weeks at carnival have been completely crazy. I have had more to do than ever before. First, I had to create a whole new type of report for one of the head developers at Carnival. This was a quality assurance document that stated all the possible scenarios that should be tested to check the functionality of a new campaign. Since we were trying to test three different products with different browsers and scenarios, the list got really huge and took me around three days to finish the document and send it to the head developer.

After that, me and a colleague made the QA (quality assurance) for two of our on going campaigns: courtesy hold emails, and email remarketing for itinerary views. These two had to be done in a rush because my supervisor was going on vacation so we had to finish it before the left. This experience taught me a big lesson,  team work and communication is key in any project. No matter how simple of complicated the project can be, nothing works without having these two. Thanks to good communication and team work, we were able to finish the report in half a day. This in my opinion was outstanding considering the length of the report.

After this, I had to keep in pace with the other on going projects that I have under my management; destination remarketing weekly report, cross device stitching and mobile remarketing for search and itinerary. However, I was able to do all of them without any delays.

And last, but no least, I had to complete one of the most frustrating projects I have had in this internship: The Personalization Program Update Presentation. This project is not exactly hard, however, its the importance of it is what makes it really stressful. This update is going to be presented to the VP of marketing of Carnival Cruises. I am representing my whole team and our work in this presentation. It has to be perfect. I have been working on this non-stop until now. The presentation will be around the end of this week and it will mark the end of my internship at Carnival Cruise Line.

Overall the lesson of these past weeks is that soft skills are as important (or more) as technical skills. It’s a lesson that I will never forget.

Final Presentation and Courtesy Hold

Besides doing the weekly reports, I have been taking part in other projects.

The first one was doing a quality assurance report for the newly launched Courtesy Hold emails. Courtesy hold is when a user goes through the booking engine and instead of paying for the cruise, he holds the reservation. Depending on the cruise, the hold can last either 48, 24, 12, 8 or 2 hrs. My job was to create different users, make different courtesy holds and receive the 5 personalized emails stating how many hours I had left until the hold expired. The order of the emails enter as the following: email confirmation (5 min after hold), email remainder (12 hrs left), email reminder (2 hrs left), hold extension (1 hr left), and the expiration email. I had to create 5 email accounts, reserve multiple cruises and write down all of my findings. This wasn’t a hard project, but just tedious. Since I wasn’t getting all of the emails, the campaign will not launch until next week even though it was due last week.

The other project, which has a high priority, is to present a personalization program update to the VP of marketing of CCL. Besides being very important, is also scary since I’m the only intern that has ever presented to her. However, I’m getting help from my supervisor and co-workers to make it perfect. In this presentation I will show her all the projects the whole personalization team has been working on, including the status of each one, their objective, and their performance. It’s not a hard presentation to make, however, it has to have the right balance between being detailed and being straight forward. Currently, this is the project I have been working on. I will present the update to the Director of E-Commerce next week, and the to the VP in the beginning of August.

Weekly Reports

After being project manager of the last two projects, my supervisor assigned me to send her weekly reports about the number of users getting bucketed in re-marketing audiences and another report about cross device stitching. The two reports are to keep her updated on user data for future campaigns.

The cross device stitching campaign is in its early days. So for now,  we are just capturing data and analyzing trends to see how many users use certain amount of devices. The set up works like the following: first, we check how many users only use one device, then how many use two devices, and how many user 3+ devices. After knowing which users are most likely to use 2 to more devices, we analyze their behavior. We had to understand which devices they used for certain actions in the website. For example, we found out that most people use the mobile website to search for cruises, and book it in the desktop environment. After another month of capturing more data, we will be able to start implementing this campaign in the website and start unifying the website’s experience across devices.

The destination audience tracking report is a bit different but has the same end result. This report is to analyze which destinations are more popular for certain types of the year and how many users are eligible for destination re-marketing. This is basically to understand seasonal trends and users that are most likely to book when searching for a certain destination. This way we can re target a more select group of users more efficiently.

To set up this data, we use tags in the website and capture them in a “Real Time Action Engine” called audience stream. This tool catches the data and shows us graphs that are easy to analyze and understand.

These weekly reports have to be as concise and clear as possible since they are sent directly to my supervisor. I learned how to information effectively after a lot of feedback from my supervisor. In the following weeks, I started doing two more projects which I will explain in the next post.

Second Week at Carnival Cruise Line

After learning the programs to start re targeting users, my supervisor made me project manager to launch the same re marketing campaign for mobile. For this, I had to implement rules to set up audiences for the campaign, edit CMS content, and edit HTML and CSS to show the dynamic content on top of the images. After having the code, the creatives, and the logic behind the project set up, our mobile provider launched a buggy API for mobile search. This made my project delay until mid-August. However, I will still be able to launch the project then.

After that project, my supervisor put me in charge of a tag audit for 4 pages of the website. This was a high priority project since it came from the VP of marketing. They were going to launch a new campaign that would recommend users cruises based on past searches. So, the tag audit consisted of making sure every button and page was tagged so we could use that data to track user behavior and trigger actions within the page. This project has been the most extensive to date. I took me a week to finish and I had to record every single action and write down my findings. Part of the reasons it took me son long was because I had to learn to use a new tool that let me see the tags of each page. After fixing some errors in my report and a lot of feedback from my supervisor, I was able to present the project to the Director of E-commerce. The presentation was a success and they have assembled a new team to fix the errors that I had found in the website. I felt pretty proud haha.

After this, my supervisor assigned me with four more projects since then that I will discuss in the next posts.

First Week At Carnival Cruise Line

My first month at carnival headquarters has featured so many experiences that its impossible to summarize them into one post. So I will break them down into two posts to explain them better.

For starters, I started working in June 1st as an E-Commerce Intern at Carnival Cruise Line. My duties range from doing customer engagement reports, tagging the website using javascrypt snippets, designing banners with Photoshop, doing front-end development, retargeting customers using Audience Stream, and analyzing user data. Even though this may sound like a lot, my main job is to help my supervisor optimize user conversion rate. This means making carnival.com visitors book a cruise.

When I first came in into team, my supervisor had just launched the first retargeting campaign of the website. The project consisted of retargeting returning visitors with their their last search results. The idea was to track what a user was interested in (destination, ships, cruise duration, port, etc), store a cookie in their computer, and use that data to display a banner in the homepage that showed his past search results and his interests. This saves time for the user so they don’t have to search again. While she was launching this campaign, I did the quality assurance report to see if it worked and if it was ready for launch. Also during this time, my supervisor took advantage to explain all of the logic behind this process and how to create a retargeting campaign. I learned  that they use a program called AudienceStream to create audiences of users based on their cruise preferences, I also learned that they use a CMS called Sitecore that integrates with AudienceStream to display certain content based on the audience that a user is categorized.

These were my main duties and what I learned at my first week in carnival. I will keep posting this week about the next projects that I was in charge afterwards.

Final Post of Design Internship

Going into finals week, I will write this post before I start my exams. My design studio internship has been an incredible experience that has rewarded me with knowledge in graphic design, web development, web design,  managing databases, and WordPress.  I could not be more grateful with my supervisor for everything that I have learned.  I didn’t only learn a lot by working but, I also discovered my passion. I decided to specialize in UX design. By designing layouts of websites with my supervisor, I learned how to do wireframes, prototypes and flow layouts which I found incredibly interesting. Being the tech industry in the boom that it is now, UX design is becoming almost crucial component for any company that needs an application or a web service. That inspired me to contact Go Pro’s senior UX designer Jake Krajewski. After having an interview with him I decided to become a UX designer for sure. This would have never happened without this internship.

Another part for which I feel very grateful is how patient my supervisor was with me. I was able to learn so much from her thanks to her patience and teaching abilities. Outside of the internship I learned that it is better to focus only in one thing and do it right rather than do to many. Also I understood the struggle of how to manage a design studio.  By being part of this studio I saw the ambition and the tenacity of being an entrepreneur in the design world. At last but not least, I learned a lot of photoshop and illustrator techniques that I didn’t know before.

Overall I feel incredibly fortunate to have been part of this studio for a semester and I can’t wait to see what it becomes. It has been an amazing time.

Learning experiences

These past three weeks have been one of the craziest in my life. My schedule has gone from having classes only three times a week, to waking up at 8 and going to sleep until 3 in the morning every day. There were two weeks I was having three jobs at once, plus classes. It has been truly exhausting. So my performance at the studio hasn’t been the greatest. I have been having a lot more of graphic design projects which I have been ok at… However, I have improved a lot in my photoshop skills. She has taught me many shortcuts, techniques and other photoshop “secrets” that have become very useful. Also, I have been designing more web site layouts which has been very exciting. This is helping me in my UX design career path I want to focus on later on.  But no matter how much I was interested in the work I was doing, I was constantly stressed thinking on my to-do list of the day. So after finishing one of the three jobs, I decided to put priorities first and I quit my second job at the stetson marketing office. I was doing good at it, and I was learning a lot too, but it got to a point that it was too much. So, I decided put all my focus in the internship and in my classes. This was all a big learning experience for me. I learned that pushing the limits can be good sometimes; but most of the times is very unpractical.

After only having to work at the design studio I have been more relaxed and more focused on my job. I am more energetic and I am constantly learning new things. I learned this past week how to manage lighting in photoshop and how to have a good balance in a picture or graphic design project. Every day I am learning something new. Overall these have been exhausting but very exciting weeks.

Still Learning at the Studio

These past three weeks have been better at the studio. My performance has increased and I am way faster in doing the projects than I used to be. I have finally learned how to back up all the different websites, databases, and plug-ins for most of the websites without needing my supervisor’s help. That has been a great achievement. However, there is still a lot more to learn. That has been my lesson for the last weeks. I need to put more effort into learning for long term projects rather than just doing it for the moment. I also learned that I need to improve greatly in my Photoshop and Illustrator skills. Even though I thought I knew a lot of illustrator, there is still much more to know. I have learned a lot from my supervisor by using both programs with her supervision. I have done more graphic and web projects these weeks that I have done it before.

After this time at the internship, I have noticed that the graphic projects are more stressful than backing up the databases. I thought it was mainly because graphic design can be kind of relative. Good design is the eye of the beholder. That’s why I was always trying to make the designs in my supervisor’s style so she could like them. However, today I noticed that is better to know your own style and design based on that rather on making your boss like it. I take way more time trying to design something that does not come natural to me. I still need to find a balance between my style and what the clients want, however, I believe this discovery has been a great learning experience. Overall, I have learned a lot at the studio and I can’t wait to learn more everyday.

Third and fourth Weeks, Graphic Design

These past two weeks were a little bit different than the others at the studio. Even though I did the usual back ups of the websites and the updates of plug ins and versions of WordPress, I finally got to do some graphics design projects. The first one was to make a Valentine’s day banner for one of the client’s websites. This wasn’t difficult but I had some help of my supervisor. I learned to use Photoshop better and to use the pencil tool properly. I also learned that graphic design projects had to be done in no less than an hour. Then, I had to design business cards for another client and this one was particularly frustrating. The client had some specific details she wanted to add to the cards and no matter what I did, I wasn’t able to make a design that looked good. This was the first time this happened to me with a graphic design project. So I had to look for inspiration and tried several designs until until a got some that were better. I presented 4 to my supervisor and we sent one of them completely finished for the client’s approval. I believe it took me so long because I was really tired that day. So, I have been to trying to sleep more in order to perform better at the studio. And the third and last project was an anniversary logo. This one was easier and I got to be a little bit more creative because the clients had no specific petitions. Overall, I learned a lot of new things in these weeks, and I am still excited to learn more.