In this interview, Associate Program Manager Andres Orjuela shares his favourite things about Advantage, advice for future interns looking to secure a permanent position and a bit about his journey from an intern to a full-time employee.
Q: What’s your current position at Advantage?
I’m working as an Associate Program Manager, and I’m on Nikko’s team.
Q: How long have you been working here?
I have been working here since May 2022, so it’s going to be one year and a month — or something like that!
Q: Tell us about your journey — where did you first hear about Advantage? How did you become an intern?
I was studying at Sheridan College and had to do an internship. I was browsing through the job postings posted by the college, and suddenly, I found the position of Data Control Coordinator with Advantage Group in Toronto.
I had no idea about the company and the work they did. But, as soon as I saw the Advantage website, I told myself, “Okay, I want to work for this company!” I had one interview, and I got the job.
“If you really want to succeed in this company, you need to grab all of the feedback that you’re receiving and apply it as best and as fast as you can. So, take all the things people tell you and make the most out of it.”Andres Orjuela, Associate Program Manager Advantage Group
Q: You mentioned that the website caught your attention — what specifically about it interested you?
I really love data. On Advantage’s website, they mention — a lot — the data that they use. The industry that Advantage operates in was completely new for me. So, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to switch my career and work on something that I really liked. I really like data, and I really like managing programs, so this internship was the perfect combination for me.
Q: So, is that what made you want to stay and grow your career at Advantage?
Yes! I also really enjoy working with my team — they are amazing. Nikko [Nikko Kalaw is Advantage Group Manager of Regional Program Management] is my manager, and I also work with Ciaran, Malachy, Andres, Gaby, Stephen, Erin, Michel and Nikita. So, I have a lot of support and think we’re a really good team.
Q: Who do you think at Advantage has helped your career?
Nikko has pushed me really, really hard to be the best version that I can be of myself.I remember that once, he gave me feedback for my college. I took that feedback, and I stayed in the game, in the company. I ended up helping the company a lot last year, and I’m trying to do the same this year. So, yes, I would say Nikko.
Q: What would you say is your favourite thing about Advantage?
I have many favourite things! But even though we are working from home, Advantage tries to build a community, and I know that’s not easy. It’s not easy to do when most people work from home.
At the moment, I’m in Colombia, and I’m returning to Canada in the next couple of months. But, even though I’m away from Toronto — my team brings us together. Despite being far away from each other, we have a community, and that is amazing. It’s one of my favourite things as well.
Q: As you said, Advantage is a unique business; what specific skills would you say you acquired since working here?
I thought I knew how to work with data, but I’ve gotten so much better at it now. I’ve improved a lot in attention to detail when working with data and communication.
Q: Every job has highs and lows. What do you think someone new to Advantage needs to remember when facing challenges?
They have to remember that this is a really fast-paced company. We do things fast because markets are moving fast. They need information as soon as possible, and we receive a lot of data, so we need to be incredibly quick with what we do.
Q: What advice can you offer to interns at Advantage who want to become full-time employees?
It depends on the manager that you have, but in my case, for example, Nikko gave me feedback that I could have been better. He said that I had to work on specific things if I wanted to succeed in Advantage. So, I’d say that if you really want to do well in this company, you need to grab all the feedback you receive and apply it as best and fast as possible. Take all the things people tell you and make the most out of it.
Q: If you had to summarize your time at Advantage thus far in one word, what would it be?
It would be growth. I’ve grown in this company so much that it’s just the perfect word to characterize it.
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