Co-op in Toronto: My Experience Working for the Ontario Public Service

Co-op in Toronto: My Experience Working for the Ontario Public Service

By: Kory Szostak | Health Science Student
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I am the epitome of indecisiveness. I’ve transferred universities, programs, added a minor and joined co-op one semester before graduation; yet, co-op has easily been the best decision I’ve ever made. I knew after transferring schools/programs I would be behind in my studies, pushing graduation back, and at the time I wasn’t happy about this. I knew I wouldn’t be in classes with my friends and they would all graduate before me—fortunately for me, this ended up being a blessing in disguise. After hearing the struggles of people who failed to lock down a full-time job after graduation (and realizing I was only one semester away from being in the same position), I took a chance in applying to co-op. I was done letting opportunities like this pass me by.

I am currently in my third co-op semester working as a Junior Policy Analyst in the Student Achievement Division within the Ontario Ministry of Education (this isn’t even the longest job title I’ve seen in the government here…) and my expectations of working in downtown Toronto have been blown away. Vancouver will always be home to me, but Toronto has stolen a piece of my heart—the opportunities here seem endless and I still have so much to explore. Sure, working in government may sound boring to some, but for the first time in my life I can honestly say that I enjoy going to work because every day I am challenged and continuously learning.

I am a Bsc. Health Science student majoring in Population and Quantitative Health and minoring in Business—neither of which seems like the type of background to be working for the Ministry of Education, yet here I am. Although this position may not have been my ideal first choice in terms of relevant work experience to my degree, I have managed to transition smoothly and have done well enough to be offered two extensions. My position was originally posted with the intent of hiring a Master’s student, a major caveat that almost deterred me from even applying. However, something in the back of my mind clicked and I went for it with nothing to lose.

Since working for the Ontario Public Service, I have had the opportunity to network with countless people from multiple ministries that have given me very valuable advice in terms of career goals and what I can do to be a standout applicant and employee. One thing I did not know about this position before coming out here was that the provincial government of Ontario offers employee training courses and posts internal job openings for permanent and contract positions, which I have taken advantage of to give myself a competitive edge for future employment. I have been able to take classes online and in a classroom on topics such as project management, writing effective briefing materials, risk management and the list goes on. Taking these courses has been greatly beneficial for me and I have been showcasing them on my resume and LinkedIn profile to boost my professional background.

I cannot stress how amazing the SFU Co-op program is. Even if I never ended up getting a job through co-op, the least I would walk away with is a very strong resume along with training for how to write effective cover letters and interview strategies. I understand not every student needs to do co-op, but if you are like me and still don’t know exactly what you want to do, this is a great opportunity to test out jobs in a variety of fields. I will always consider myself from here on out an ambassador to the co-op program at SFU and I am more than willing to discuss my experiences with anyone who is deciding whether or not they want to join. I can guarantee that you will not regret the decision to join—it will take a lot of work (for instance, I spent 30+ hours on my resume and have over 8 versions), but I have only learned from these experiences and my confidence in my ability to work in a professional environment has significantly improved through co-op.

I look forward to completing my extension in Ontario and sharing my experiences with prospective co-op students once I am home. I strongly encourage every student who is considering joining co-op to just go for it! Even if you do not get the opportunity to work outside of BC, the work experience you will gain anywhere is priceless and that’s the most important thing I am taking away from my time out here. Thank you to the SFU Health-Science Co-op Coordinators for all the work you have done for me, I cannot describe how appreciative I am. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Isabella Silvestre, my amazing Co-op Coordinator who took the time to personally listen to my story and rationale for why I wanted to join co-op so late in my degree—without her support and willingness to help me get my foot in the door, I fear I would have been just another university graduate with no experience and no job…

 


Beyond the Article: 

  • Connect with Kory on LinkedIn
  • Interested in joining Health Sciences Co-op? Visit there website to find out more info and to get in touch with their staff. 
  • Nathan Lee also worked in Toronto. Find what exciting company he worked for and why he says doing co-op outside of BC is worth it
  • The problem described by Kory in this article of rushing to graduate, but then having trouble getting a job after graduation is becoming all too common today. Matthew discusses this issue and gives 3 reasons why there's no rush to finish your degree
Posted on October 28, 2016