A New Experience as a Co-op Student in Alberta

A New Experience as a Co-op Student in Alberta

By: Lillian Chen
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Hi, my name is Lillian and I’m a third-year student at the Beedie School of Business. Like any student in August, I was wrapping up my first full semester of virtual learning. While my professors did their best to deliver course content in an engaging manner, I struggled with learning virtually and handling a heavy course load. This added stress led me to desperately seek opportunities elsewhere for the upcoming semester.

I happened to speak with my friend in August, after I was finishing up my finals, about my situation. He recommended that I join him in a co-op as part of a sales team. He mentioned how this job was based in Alberta and would give me the opportunity to learn more about sales, become more independent, and give me an experience I couldn’t get within a classroom. I was sold and within a week, I made the decision to apply. I applied for the sales development position at Smart Haven Security, a TELUS dealership. Thankfully, I got the job.

However, I had my doubts as well. I’d be moving provinces. What about my family? My friends? My other responsibilities? Am I really dropping everything and going to Alberta (in the middle of a pandemic)? Well yes, yes, I am!

In my role as a sales development coordinator, I support the main sales team with their processes and documentation. However, I was also able to contribute to direct sales and be a part of the sales team - this is the aspect of the job that I enjoyed the most. On the sales team, I got to be in a customer facing role and meet so many new and interesting people. We would often go to small towns that I’ve never heard of and I’d hear inspiring stories from the locals there as we went door to door with our services. While it was nice to learn more about each town, going door to door and attempting to sell a service was harder than I thought and I didn’t expect to get rejected so many times on my first day. I was inexperienced in sales and I didn’t have the confidence that my other colleagues had. However, I knew that with every job would come a learning curve and that I needed to fail first, in order to succeed.

A group photo of Lillian and her co-workers

I set a goal for myself to make my first sale within the first day on the job. While I didn’t achieve this, I managed to sell one contract within the first three days on the job. Honestly, I was pretty clueless as to what I was doing but I was willing to keep trying. The next goal I set was to sell one contract everyday so that I could be more consistent. I didn’t want to just sell a contract, I wanted to know that my communication skills had developed enough to be a consistent salesperson. To achieve this, the first step I took was to relay my goals to my supervisor. He gave me a valuable piece of advice, “Practice makes Perfect” and led extra trainings for me to understand the sales process. After this, I took time each day to rewrite my pitch to ensure I was more confident and prepared to talk to each customer. More importantly, I prioritized having a good and positive mindset each day. By the end of my co-op term, I was able to become more consistent and even sell multiple contracts on a single day.

Working in person during a pandemic is definitely a challenge, and I had my worries as well. But our office had strict COVID-19 protocols that we had to follow, and the company provided all of its employees with PPE while we were working to ensure that we were safe. The team working together all lived within the same residence and we kept our inner circle small. All in all, I was grateful for such a fulfilling experience during a time where experiences are severely limited.

This co-op opportunity was a huge growth experience for me. Through constantly setting goals and trying to obtain my learning objectives, I can now confidently say that I A picture of the sunsetfeel more prepared to pursue my career goals. Additionally, I developed close relationships with my coworkers, and they became like a second family to me. By having their support during the hard days, I was able to experience self-growth in the following areas: adaptability, communication and perseverance. Now when I’m applying to other opportunities, I have something tangible to show how I demonstrated these skills. Lastly, I learned that attitude dictates everything! As long as I had a positive attitude to each task, I would experience greater results.

All in all, this fall semester on co-op was one of the best experiences of my life. If you’re considering doing something that’s completely outside of your comfort zone, take this as your sign to go for it. Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth! If you have any further questions about my experience or want to join us on our adventures in the summer, email me at chenlillian3@gmail.com!

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Posted on February 18, 2021