From West to East: Why Students Must Push Their Boundaries

From West to East: Why Students Must Push Their Boundaries

By: Mark Trendell-Jensen
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In my final co-op semester, my goal was to work for a large company. I had worked for a medium sized firm and a small business in my first two co-ops, and now I wanted to gain a perspective on what the work environment was like in a large corporation, to help clarify where I would enjoy working after graduation. I didn’t expect, however, that I would end up working for the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) — Canada’s largest bank! Thanks to RBC’s onsite visits and one-on-one sessions with their campus recruiters, I was able to stand out and find a job. I now have had the chance to expand my professional horizons and live out the experience I had been aiming for.

As a non-finance major, I never thought I would work at a bank, but RBC hires around 400 co-op students every summer for technology and operations positions! I discovered the many opportunities available when a team of RBC recruiters came to SFU to host one-on-one resume workshops and information sessions. These gave students an opportunity to learn about the RBC student program, and receive advice on how to improve their professional documentation. I attended both meetings which paid off immensely as the recruiter who represented RBC and helped me with my resume ended up being the same person who I had addressed my application to on MyExperience! (Pro-tip: if an organization in your concentration area hosts any on-campus events, especially ones that can help your applications, go to them!) Attending the information session got me excited about the prospect of working for RBC, as the recruiters emphasized how much importance is given to student programs, and the amount of resources devoted to making them better.

When I was offered the job in March, I had a choice: stay in Vancouver and keep looking for a local job, or accept the one offered to me and move to the Toronto area. It was a tough choice, but I knew that accepting this position would mean quality work and a life-changing experience for me. I accepted, and left Vancouver for Guelph, Ontario.

As a business student, it is hard to grasp how a ship as large as RBC can be steered, and how its strategy can be enacted by more than 80,000 people each day. Furthermore, you see the kind of internal opportunities it can offer to eager students and employees, such as skills training and networking with some of the most influential people in the country. Although I was not based in a downtown Toronto office like most of the other students, I gained a unique perspective while working in one of the company’s data centers and assisting in the governance of these locations. The work I did at RBC was not only impactful on a global scale, but also taught me about strategic project implementation for technology, process analysis and design, and how to craft enterprise level technical documentation to support application rollouts.

I also competed in an internal competition for students which laid out challenges to help test and broaden our skillset while engaging us with the company. Out of nearly 400 students that participated, I finished at the 15th position which I am proud of despite my location outside of the Toronto area. I have now learned what it feels like to work in a massive company like RBC; having the resources to develop myself and a network of professionals that spans the entire country. This job has given me greater perspective of the opportunities RBC can offer and what kind of career path I wish to pursue after graduating.

Luckily, I will still be involved with RBC when I finish this semester, as I have signed on to be an RBC Student Ambassador at SFU. I believe that as a student from Vancouver, this is a great opportunity for me to stay involved with RBC, and to share my experience with other students as well.

By advancing towards the initial opportunity I was offered at SFU, and by further taking advantage of the ones available in RBC, such as obtaining my Six Sigma Yellow Belt, a training process which taught me the fundamentals of process optimization, and the position of RBC Student Ambassador, I have now opened many more doors for myself in the future, gaining a plethora of valuable experiences along the way. My final suggestion would be, as a student, don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone when applying for jobs, as the best opportunities are often the ones you need to go furthest to reach.

Beyond the Article

Posted on November 11, 2017