Ashlee: My Co-op Experience

19 November 2021

As a third-year UBC student majoring in Political Science, the chance to work with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training felt opportune. As a Client Engagement Analyst, my main responsibilities included creating content for the WorkBC website, managing and moderating social media platforms, and attending virtual career fairs to connect people to WorkBC resources.

My experience was fully remote and with no doubt, drawbacks of a fully virtual term exist. For one, I’ve never actually met any of my colleagues in person. There’s a big chance I won’t recognize some of them in real life or get to meet them ever. Not to forget that a virtual environment makes it difficult to foster organic relationships amongst colleagues. Virtual communicating often deducts body language and tone, making room for potential misunderstandings too. Plus, knowing that a huge aspect of this position originally was to travel, a part of me feels that I’ve missed out.

Despite it all, I am so grateful for this experience and loved every moment of it. My supervisor was attentive, yet also gave me the freedom to be self-driven. I felt heard with a sense of belonging, even from kilometers away. Additionally, I took steps to make the most out of my term.

Getting involved
I find it especially awkward to socialize in a virtual setting. However, I was still excited to find out that the ministry provides a diverse array of networking and professional development events for both co-op students and new employees. I benefited from Lunch & Learns, the Co-op Advisory Board, various information sessions, and my co-op learning group. I didn’t always speak up or chair a meeting but listening to the advice and experiences of other people was very eye-opening. I highly recommend getting involved and creating a network of professionals.

Stepping out of my comfort zone
As my co-op project, I conducted a research project to analyze the user consumption of digital media on the WorkBC website. I chose to do so because I have limited experience with research in an office environment. The project not only helped me hone my analytical and critical thinking abilities but extended my professional portfolio. It’s a good idea to choose a project that is parallel to your interests and your career prospects because co-op terms should act as a steppingstone for you.

Having fun!
Considering that my usual commute to UBC was a 3+ hour round trip, the distance from my bed to my desk felt like liquid gold. Not to mention that getting to work in your PJ’s is pure luxury. Working from home allowed me to save up on rent (not having to relocate to Victoria) and time. With all the extra time, I got to cook my favourite meals during lunch and enjoyed my hobbies after work. Focusing on the advantages of remote work made it easy for me to keep a stable and healthy mindset throughout my work term.  

My term with the ministry was a special experience and comparable to any of my previous work experiences. I met such amazingly professional people that working alongside them alone inspired me to better carry myself. The work term demystified my previous prejudices on government work being mundane and stern, as my experience was the exact opposite. I encourage others to read more on previous co-op experiences like Hasan and take a shot at working for the provincial government if interested. Check out the benefits and other reasons why you should co-op.