My Co-op Experience

28 June 2019

As a fourth-year Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Victoria, I was fortunate enough to participate in an academic exchange in Bangkok, Thailand. Mid-way through my exchange, I was struck with the realization that it was time to start searching for a co-op position to complement my return to Canada.   

After a few hard weeks of applying and interviewing, I was offered a position as a client engagement analyst with the Client Engagement Unit (CEU) in the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. Our team is responsible for creating and updating content on WorkBC.ca while marketing the website’s resources through social media and outreach events.

Throughout my co-op term, I worked alongside a very supportive team that truly wanted me to learn as much as possible during my time with them. I completed a handful of projects and assisted with social media, all while traveling across beautiful British Columbia delivering labour market information at events.

The Skills that this Co-op Strengthened
During my experience with the CEU, I strengthened countless transferable skills that will help me in my future career. The most notable skills I gained were:

Communication – This skill has many different definitions, but for me, it means being able to translate information to others and being able to understand what information you are given. Co-op is a time to learn, so I was always trying to take in as much information as I could, drawing on my active listening skills. On the other hand, some of the projects I worked on involved heavy logistics that required me to organize shipping and invoicing with university partners across the province. Being exposed to these types of responsibilities increased my confidence not only as a professional, but as a person in general.

Public Speaking – Public speaking had always been a skill I possessed, but a lot of my public speaking experience was a result of my four years at university. I had always been able to memorize a speech and present it without any problems. Unfortunately, public speaking in a non-university setting is much different. There were no rehearsals for the outreach events I attended, and I never knew what to expect before going to an event. My experience with the CEU gave me the confidence to speak publicly without memorization and rehearsing – a skill that school alone does not teach you.

Planning and Organization – Juggling projects between travelling for events was difficult at times, but it taught me to constantly set small deadlines for myself for what I wanted to have completed before each travel date. Sometimes those deadlines were accomplished, and sometimes they were not. However, co-op is about learning. Being given the opportunity to enhance my planning skills in the workplace as a student was extremely valuable.
 
Interested in Co-op?
My top three suggestions for landing a co-op are:
  1. Connect with your post-secondary institution’s career office to locate a potential online job board. They likely connect with employers every semester to search for co-op opportunities for their students. Don’t be scared! Go speak with your career office to see if they can connect you to some potential co-op opportunities in your area.
  2.  Use the WorkBC.ca Job Board to find opportunities throughout the province and applying online. There are two key words you must know to find a co-op position on the WorkBC Job Board. The first being “co-op”, and the second being “intern.” 
  3. Network your way to a co-op! Connect with the employers that you have an interest working with and ask them about any potential opportunities. If opportunities are available, try to leverage a coffee meeting with an employee in the company to increase your chances of obtaining the position.  
More on Co-op?
Graduating without any work experience can make the transition into a full-time career difficult, as many job postings ask for both a degree and work experience. Thankfully, enrolling in a co-op term helped me gain valuable experience that I can use when applying for future employment. It can help you too!
If you are interested in learning more about co-op, check out WorkBC’s Co-op Overview. Here you will find a general overview of the program, some of its many benefits, resources, and more!