The Importance of Getting Involved
Communication major Hobson Lin shares his FCAT experiences with Co-operative Education, three Minors, and a Semester in Dialogue.
In your own words, how would you describe the study of Communication?
Oh, the question we all wish we could succinctly answer!
For now, I guess I would describe the study of Communication as the study of how we interact and understand with one another. Communication is such a critical part of everything we do - it is how we learn about ourselves and others; discover new things, places, and connections around the world; and reflect on the past, analyze the present, and explore the future. SFU’s Communication program offers the tools and insight to understand and further analyze things such as media, technology, culture, policy, society, and political economy. For me, I find that by studying Communication, I’m gaining perspective on just about everything in my life.
I would say that you are a pretty well rounded FCAT student as you are pursuing minors in Interactive Arts + Technology, Dialogue, and, Print and Digital Publishing. What do you love about each of these programs?
I’ve always been interested in design, and in my first year, I heard about Interactive Arts + Technology from new friends I met through the FCAT Mentorship Program. I decided to start by taking some classes, IAT 100 and IAT 102. With those, I fell in love with design and learning about the communicative aspects of design through IAT courses.
I discovered Dialogue by chance. Having heard from friends about their amazing experiences with Semester In Dialogue’s Semester at CityStudio, I decided to apply. Little did I know that I would get in and have an experience of a lifetime – more details on that below.
Print and Digital Publishing spoke to the inner yearbook geek in me. I’ve always loved being creative with design and publishing, and the minor is simply a great way for me to explore the world of publishing.
How do your minors relate to your Communication major?
Simply put, I find that Interactive Arts + Technology, and Print and Digital Publishing help extend the practicality of communication theory through courses that have a more tangible and applied approach. Dialogue is similar to the other two, but really helps focus on the development and cultivation of communication in a meaningful way.
With a major and three minors, how to you find a balance between student life, personal life and work life?
My motto right now: learn to take things as they come. It’s something I’m still working with, but I find that the key thing for me is to do things that I enjoy. If I don’t enjoy it, it shouldn’t be occupying my time.
My trusty calendar (or actually, multiple calendars) is my life – it’s what I use to remember to do things, plan around work and school, and find time to have a social life. Yes, I do schedule in my parents sometimes, but don’t tell them that!
Tell us about one of your favourite moments at SFU, and why is it so memorable to you?
One of my favourite moments at SFU was the very first Information Evening I attended. It was memorable to me, as it marked the very first time I’ve ever been on Burnaby Campus. I remember the drive up to campus with one of my best friends and noticing the beautiful scenery along the way. The moment I knew I belonged at SFU was when I walked from Visitor B-lot towards Convocation Mall. I recall the amazing view of the city behind Convocation Mall with the glow of the early evening sun, as I stood on top of the steps above Freedom Square, just after walking past the picturesque Academic Quadrangle garden.
As a Co-op student you have had the chance to work for FCAT. Tell us a little more about your role, and what did you learn?
Being able to complete an eight-month Co-op work term with the Dean’s Office was an unforgettable experience. At FCAT, I was the Communications Assistant responsible for managing the Faculty’s online presence, coordinating the FCAT Undergraduate Conference, and assisting with initiatives in our schools and programs, among many other things.
The biggest takeaway is that I’ve learned how passionate the people “behind the scenes” are. Giving a face to a name, or even a person to a job title, has given me such appreciation for the otherwise big institution known as SFU. Not only have I worked closely with staff members across the Faculty (yes, including the ones who ultimately decide if you graduate or not), but also I have worked with many other SFU staff members across numerous departments.
I was also shocked at how much impact a Co-op student can have. What was really cool was how everything I did in that position came full circle and has since directly affected me as a student in the Faculty.
Out of all of your majors and minors, what has been your favourite class at SFU?
While not a “class” per se, the Semester in Dialogue (combination of three classes) has been my absolute favourite learning experience at SFU. I took the Semester at CityStudio, which brings students from Vancouver’s 6 public post-secondary institutions and partners them with City of Vancouver staff.
For my team’s CityStudio project, Living at Bute, we worked on exploring the possibilities for public space in Vancouver’s West End. The project was focused on the Bute Street Plaza, a pilot project at the Heart of the Davie Village. Working with VIVA Vancouver, we held three events over the month of March in 2014 that focused on having conversations with the community and stakeholders about the plaza and introducing new and fun activities. We created a collaborative chalkboard for pedestrians to write and draw feedback about the plaza, sparked conversation over hot chocolate and introduced new on-site activities, such as badminton and live music. At the end of our semester, we gathered all of our findings and presented our research in a report to city staff. Since then, the city has carried forward the recommendation we made to consider implementing a new permanent plaza.
The experience has given me so much appreciation for people who work for our city, and has given me the opportunity of having a real-world experience in making an impact in our city.
Why is participating in Co-op so important?
Participating in Co-op is crucial, especially for students studying communication. With so many possibilities after you graduate, I find it is helpful in getting a sense of finding out where you might want to land with your career. It also provides you with access to so many valuable opportunities and experiences.
Where do you want to go with your degree?
I’m not quite sure yet. While Co-op has certainly helped me in figuring out some places where I don’t want to work, I do know that from those experiences I’m certainly interested in working in the public sector, perhaps in a communications/public relations/events kind of role.
Do you have a website, an online portfolio, LinkedIn profile, etc. that you would like to share?
For sure! I can always be reached online via @hobsonlin or /hobsonlin, depending on where you’re looking.