Students find jobs thanks to co-op

February 10, 2005, vol. 32, no. 3
By John Grant

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Paris Thomas, a communication co-op student who graduated in December, says his co-op experience directly assisted him in securing the full-time job he has just begun with the British Columbia Dairy Foundation (BCDF).

Thomas began working with BCDF on a co-op term in May 2004 as their summer communication co-ordinator. His placement was extended to nine months and included significant responsibilities such as hiring and supervising the summer events team, developing and executing a marketing plan for the company's new website, developing new ways of promoting BCDF's identity, and managing an events budget of $30,000.

The executive director of BCDF, Robin Smith, approached Thomas a few weeks before his term ended and asked him to consider working fulltime in a newly created position, manager of producer relations and administration.

Thomas, who had already gained industry experience with his three previous co-op employers, accepted. In his new position he will be accountable for the administration, management and communication for nearly 700 dairy producers.

Thousands of students convocate each year with no idea of how to start their careers, and often no idea of what actually interests them. Ten or 20 years ago a degree was more than enough for working professionals. Today it seems to be relevant work experience that counts. Co-op grads have the best of both worlds. As a result, approximately 80 per cent find full-time employment in a field related to their studies within three months of graduating.

BCDF has a long track record with SFU's co-op program. Thomas' supervisor and manager of marketing and communication at BCDF, Jaimie Turkington, also graduated from the SFU communication co-op program in 2001 after completing three co-op terms. Like Thomas, she credits her co-op experiences as a definite asset when searching for a job following graduation. "SFU co-op students have solid educational backgrounds and a willingness to learn," notes Turkington. "They are highly motivated, creative and are an excellent addition to our team."

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