Natalie's Co-op Blog: Goodbyes Can be Surprising!

Natalie's Co-op Blog: Goodbyes Can be Surprising!

By: npope
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Natalie has written several series on her Co-op journey, after successfully completing her first Co-op position she found herself with some tough choices to make when choosing her second Co-op. She eventually chose to work in the Thelma Finlayson Centre for Student Engagement, which you can find in MBC, one floor down from Student Central

It doesn’t feel like long ago when I started training for my position as Student Engagement Coordinator at SFU.  In fact, the 8 months flew by and I can’t believe I’m done!  In a nutshell, my job was to manage the SFU Food Bank and the Food Bank Assistants who volunteered to run it, as well as manage the Center for Student Engagement and the appointments and bookings at the center.

My last week on the job was a bit hectic as I had a lot of projects to wrap up and I wanted to make sure that I had everything ready for my replacement.  Amongst the end-of-my-job-chaos, there were many laughs, surprises, and some bittersweet moments too.

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

I was so thankful for all the work the Food Bank Assistants put into the past semester (or two!) and I really wanted to make sure they felt appreciated, so I put together a little “memory book” documenting some of the fun we had and made a copy for each of them! I really got into making it and hoped that they would like it too! 

Amidst finishing up projects, prepping to train, and creating the Food Bank Memory Book, I was totally oblivious to the secret ploys going on in the office.  My amazing supervisor did two things:

  • She asked all the Food Bank Assistants to write about experiences they had with me, and she put this into a scrapbook!
  • She also circulated a handmade thank-you card to all the staff I worked with!

At my ‘farewell’ party she presented a beautiful handmade scrapbook and handmade thank-you card.  I nearly fell over!  Here I was thinking I was going to surprise the Food Bank Assistants with this epic (if I say so myself!) Memory Book and yet I was the one who was surprised!  It was overwhelmingly heartwarming to know that the volunteer team put time aside - especially during exam period - to write such kind comments!  I was also touched by the kind comments my coworkers put in the thank-you card.  But the icing on the cake was when I realized how much time my supervisor must have put into the scrapbook and the card.  There must have been hours of prep work she had to put in! 

I was certainly glad I waited until I was by myself to read and look through the scrapbook and card, otherwise it might have been embarrassing...

I planned to give the Food Bank Assistants the Memory Book I made for each of them at the semester-end thank-you social.  After some chaotic Pictionary drawings and laughs, I excitedly gave out the Memory Books to each of the volunteers, and it was pretty awesome to see them flip through the pages and exclaim when they saw themselves or at a funny comment.  I was feeling pretty smug that I was able to surprise them, when all of a sudden one of the Food Bank Assistants pulled out a gift that the Food Bank Assistants all put together.   In the gift bag there was a beautiful hand drawn mug and a thank you card from each of the volunteers.  Wow!  Again, I was just overwhelmed by the sheer kindness of the wonderful team that I had privilege to work with.  It was a total shock that they would be giving me anything, because they were the ones volunteering!  Again, I was wonderfully surprised.


These past 8 months have been an amazing learning experience for me and I really enjoyed working at SFU.  Not only did I learn a lot, but also there were so many laughs and there were so many fun memories.  I could not have asked for more supportive management, I couldn’t have asked for kinder co-workers, or for a better Food Bank Assistant team.  To all those that I had the wonderful opportunity to work with for this co-op position, THANK YOU!

I’m definitely sad to leave, but hey- I have to graduate eventually, right? 

Beyond the Article

Natalie is a fourth year Communications and English student with a love for writing and learning. She is in the midst of her first co-op workterm as a marketing assistant, where she is learning many practical skills and life lessons that inspired her to write this blog series. She has previously volunteered as an Orientation Leader, and is currently volunteering as an FCAT Mentor.

Posted on January 06, 2014