"What is a SPA?" And Other Things I've Learned Working for SFU Career Services

"What is a SPA?" And Other Things I've Learned Working for SFU Career Services

By: Nicole Strutt
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Nicole Strutt, a Communication Co-op student is in her last few months as the Special Projects Assistant (SPA) with SFU Career Services. For 8 months, Nicole has learned to plan,  promote and execute Career Services events, create promotional displays for web and print using Adobe Creative Suite, and use her writing skills to create blog postings for SFU's CSI blog, among her other daily activities. Read on to find out what else she learned as a Career Services SPA. 

When I received the job offer to work at Career Services back in Fall 2013, I was ecstatic! In my previous seeking semester I had applied for Co-op positions, but was unsuccessful in landing a job. So after all the time spent customizing my resume, writing tailored cover letters, and interviewing for positions, I felt very blessed to get a co-op job, especially at SFU.

After completing the first half of my eight-month work term, I have learned so much about what Career Services does to help students. The following are the three things that I thought stood out most about working at Career Services:

1. The Student Mentality is Understood

Working for a university is unlike most office environments: at SFU, I work for an educational institution that promotes learning and is providing professional services to students just like me, every single day. The Career Services staff understands your course components (projects, assignments, midterms and finals), how students think and time manage, and what kind of skill-set students bring to employers. This fundamental understanding of the student mentality and learning outcomes ensures that both the students they hire, and the students they help, are able to perform and market themselves to the best of their abilities.

2. There is a System of Mentorship

Many who work at Career Services have years of experience that comes in handy when training and mentoring students who are new to the office environment, and to Co-op. Through my time at Career Services I received valuable mentorship in branding, blog writing and targeting my communications to specific audiences. I am forever grateful for all that these seasoned professionals could pass onto me.

3. They Embrace Student Perspective and Feedback

Career Services serves SFU students by providing career oriented workshops and information sessions, consultations regarding career exploration, and help with cover letters and resumes. Because these services are catered only to students, the Career Services staff puts emphasis on their Co-op students’ opinion in order to captivate and tailor services to best fit the needs of students. I was always encouraged to voice my opinion in order to better understand and market to the student body’s point of view.

Closing Thoughts

The time I have spent at Career Services so far has been an amazing experience, and I feel fortunate to have been offered such a challenging, dynamic position. I would recommend this Co-op experience to any student at SFU who is looking to bolster their skill set as well the opportunity to work with great people who truly value the student perspective. I wish all the best to students who are out looking for Co-op jobs for the Fall semester. Keep applying, writing cover letters and updating your resume and your hard work will pay off in the end. 

Posted on July 03, 2014