Co-op grad writes speeches for PM

October 06, 2005, vol. 34, no. 3
By Stuart Colcleugh

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When he began his ba in psychology and criminology at SFU, Karl Yeh never expected that he would end up writing a speech for the prime minister - especially while he was still a student.

But that's the beauty of SFU's co-op education program, says the North Delta native and Vancouver college high school alumnus who graduates in October. “You never know where you might end up or what you'll be doing. It can confirm your current career path or send you in an entirely different direction.”

In Yeh's case, among other co-op gigs, he ended up in the Vancouver office of Western Economic Diversification Canada, where he began as a co-op intern with the federal government in 2002 and now works full time as a communications officer.

During his first summer with WED, he became involved with the Vancouver Agreement, an urban development initiative of the governments of Canada, British Columbia and the city of Vancouver. One of the agreement's high-profile projects at the time was the completion of the city's Chinatown Millennium Gate, which then prime minister Jean Chrétien was scheduled to officially open.

Yeh was asked to draft speaking points for the prime minister's speech. “It was one of those amazing things,” he recalls. “It was a great experience to work on something like that and see your contribution having an impact. It was remarkable.” Since then, he says, “I have written numerous speeches for many federal ministers already, especially ones in British Columbia.”

Prior to his co-op term, Yeh completed an internship with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington D.C. and Vancouver - a more predictable path for a psychology and criminology student.

But he also completed co-ops as a communications coordinator with Transport Canada in Toronto, an advertising/communications adviser for K.Y Seritech Ltd. in Burnaby and a summer employment officer/marketing director with Human Resources Development Canada. All of these provided invaluable knowledge for his current job.

“I'm trying to get as many people as I can to join the co-op program because I think it's not just about getting your education and graduating in three or four years,” says Yeh. “You need to have that practical experience.

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