Co-Op Spotlight: Hannah Babki
The FASS Co-op program allows students to spend more than three semesters working for companies and gaining work experience during their undergraduate degree. Hannah Babki is one of many linguistics students who have taken advantage of the Co-op program at SFU. Hannah worked as an Events and Recreation Intern at The Phoenix Society during the Summer 2018 semester. We've interviewed Hannah to get more details about her position and her experience in the FASS Co-Op program.
What did you do in your position?
During my Summer 2018 work term, I worked as an Events and Recreation Intern at The Phoenix Society, a non-profit treatment centre in Surrey, BC for people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. Throughout their stay, residents participate in treatment programs and also have the opportunity to partake in volunteer work and recreational outings as part of their recovery. Working together with my supervisor, I helped plan and put on weekly recreational activities for Phoenix treatment residents. We led a sports program, crafts program, and nature walks. Each week, I prepared a different arts project and led 3 - 10 residents for one hour-long crafts session. I also helped put on two special events at Phoenix: a street fair and an opera performance. My supervisor and I acted as contacts to respond to volunteer requests from event organizers, advertise volunteer or recreation opportunities to residents, and prepare residents for their shifts.
What made your application successful?
The position was very multifaceted in terms of the duties I was responsible for, so in my cover letter I made sure to address how I suited each. I also took the time to make my cover letter well-written, because a well-structured cover letter demonstrates your ability to plan, organize your thoughts, and communicate effectively- important skills for any job, particularly one involving planning events and coordinating people! I think what ultimately made my application successful is that once I got to the interview, I shared why I thought the job was personally meaningful. If you are genuinely passionate about the work, it will show!
What skills have you learned from your co-op?
There were many aspects of event planning that were first introduced to me through this position, such as how to ask for sponsorship, apply for grants, and build contacts within the community. Also, because I worked in close partnership with my supervisor on almost everything, I had the opportunity to develop communication skills in regard to sharing responsibilities. Prior to this position, I had never led a group of 10 people before, or been responsible for choosing the programming. Planning and leading the weekly arts group helped me gain leadership skills because it forced me to take initiative and not look to someone else to tell me exactly what to do.
As one of the faces of the recreation program, an essential component to this role was building rapport with residents. Because of the amount of time I spent in direct contact with residents, whether through advertising activities or leading them, my interpersonal skills really improved, especially in regards to interacting with a population I was initially unfamiliar with. By the end of the work term, I was no longer shy approaching residents and felt very confident building those relationships.
Would you recommend co-op to other students in the linguistics department.
Yes, because it's an opportunity to find positions you wouldn't have available to you otherwise, and to explore kinds of work you might not have thought about before. If you're worried about what you're going to do with your degree once you graduate, co-op is a good way to keep your options open and broaden your skill set. Also, as you step into the professional world, the co-op office gives you a lot of support and guidance on how to navigate the job market, utilize your experience best, and impress your employers.