September 19, 2014

Kickstarting a career in the midst of a degree


Lillian Chow is a student who is finishing up her degree in both the School of Communication and School of Interactive Arts and Technology. In October, Lillian will be sharing her experience as a student in the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology to local secondary school counsellors at the 2014 SFU Counsellors' Day event.

We have caught up with Lillian to find out more about her undergraduate experience, and are delighted to share it on the FCAT Blog.

How did you first hear about Communication and Interactive Arts and Technology, and what has led you to pursue a degree in both schools?

I always knew I wanted to study Communication and that SFU offered it. But when I stumbled upon the joint major on SFU’s website, it was magical! I didn’t hesitate, as I knew it was exactly what I wanted. Knowing I was able to pursue my dream in Communication and also learn very hands on skills (and cool stuff!) through Interactive Arts was and still is very exciting. 

In your own words, how would you describe the studies of Communication, Interactive Arts and Technology, and how the two disciplines fit together?

I get asked this very frequently and this is how I always describe it: Communication is about theory and critical thinking; Interactive Arts and Technology is about applied skills. Pursuing a Joint Major in Communication and Interactive Arts makes me feel like I have the best of both worlds. I can actually create things (design, apps, websites, videos, etc.) but also have a well round message and communication plan. Both disciplines are very interdependent.   

Describe your most engaged moment at SFU.

In my second year I joined the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) as the Director of Marketing and Publicity. I had the opportunity to work with an amazing team and meet a lot of students through our events. We organized Latin pub nights, soccer tournaments for charity, Spanglish sessions and much more. It was also a great opportunity to get hands on experience that helped me land my first co-op job. Being part of the club put me through a real job environment. I had to attend bi-weekly meetings, meet tight deadlines, organize large events and produce marketing materials that were great for my portfolio. 

As a Co-op student, you have been on exciting work terms, which has ultimately led you into a full-time career. Could you tell us a bit more about them, and what the experience has meant for you?

I have completed two 8-month co-op work terms. The first co-op job was at the City of Surrey as a New Media Intern. I managed all their social media channels and had the opportunity to provide customer service to residents and amplify the City’s messages through these networks. Their online engagement nowadays has really taken off and I am very proud that I was part of it. 

My second co-op job was at Teekay Corporation where I had similar tasks but the experience was absolutely different. Teekay is a global company and is publicly listed in the New York Stock Exchange. These two things were very new to me. I was able to learn so much about “the corporate world”, work with colleagues that are around the world and do communications work for a B2B company. 

The experience is invaluable. As you said, it led me into a full-time job and now I am the Communications Coordinator at Teekay. As an international student, I knew I had to step up my game in order to compete against many other talented folks. Co-op gave me all the tools to get ahead and I am very happy with my journey so far. Graduation is right around the corner and now I am very confident I have what it takes to have a successful career. 

Now that you’re in a full-time position where you are working with current co-op students, what is it like to be on the “other side of the desk”?

I don’t really see myself on the “other side of the desk” because I am constantly learning and that’s what co-op is all about. However, I do have more responsibilities and I am involved in larger projects. I also work a lot with the co-op students and currently there are two SIAT students in the team. I try doing the best I can to help them transition into the internship by ensuring our team always has projects that suit and expand their skills. 

What is one question you wish I’d ask, and how would you answer it?

I don’t know what’s the question to this, but to anyone reading this article: try, fail, get up, try again, try harder, make mistakes, learn, reflect, conquer, set new goals and try all over again. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to not know where or what you want to be. But you must always try. Find your passion and you will find yourself. 

Do you have a website, an online portfolio, LinkedIn profile, etc. that you would like to share?

Definitely! And I would encourage people to get in touch if there’s anything I can help them with. You can find my portfolio at and my LinkedIn profile You can also find me as @LillianChowZ, anywhere.