Co-op Connections

Co-op Connections

By: Alisha Edgelow
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Having worked at a high-end restaurant throughout my academic career at SFU, I first scoffed at the Co-op program since I assumed I already was making enough connections to eventually find another job upon graduation. However, in my second year I began to ponder if my restaurant connections would really help launch me into a professional career. Knowing I was in the right field (communications), but still unsure of what I really wanted to do, it became apparent that I had to figure out my direction before anyone else could ever help me. This is where my curiosity for the Co-op program began.  I thought “Hmmm, could the Co-op program really help me find a career and gain experience in my field of study???” I first saw this to be true for a schoolmate, Adam, who I met in class. Adam mentioned to me that he did a Co-op over the summer and that’s when I inquisitively insisted on every single detail of his experience. Adam’s interesting description of his Co-op experience motivated me to drop in for a Co-op information session. After the short info session, I was convinced that Co-op was a great program, so I took all the necessary steps to begin my Co-op journey.

I found the whole process before getting a Co-op job to be very beneficial in figuring out exactly what interested me. The first step of the process was to complete Bridging Online I, which is a regulated forum where students complete sets of thought-provoking questions and comment on each other’s answers. This process helped me figure out my transferable skills and how to effectively communicate them on paper. I was also very surprised to find out how horrible my original resume was before attending a Co-op resume workshop. In the workshop, we were shown good and bad examples of resumes and then we got together into small teams and worked on sprucing up our own. The end results were remarkable! Co-op Coordinator Marcia Shimizu was a huge help in making my cover letters magnificent and she helped me prep for job interviews, supporting me every step of the way.

My first Co-op job I landed was in the summer of 2008 as a Communication Instructor at SFUs’ summer camp. I got to spend the whole summer teaching kids about the field of communications in a fun and playful way! I based most of my lesson plans on my notes from first year and would really simplify some of the themes of communication. For instance, to teach

“Co-op has planted the seeds and helped me move towards the goals and aspirations I set for myself.”

the campers about “bias” we would retell the story of the three little pigs from each pig’s perspective, as well as the wolf’s, putting their own spin on it. I had a great summer and worked with an awesome staff! After the work term, the Co-op coordinators organized Co-op students into small groups to present our work terms to each other, which I found gave me a better outlook on what other sorts of jobs are available in the field.

I saw a presentation where a student did a lot of graphic design work, which motivated me to take publishing and print production in my last year of studies (which I loved!).

The best thing I would have to say about the coordinators is that they really listen and care about making sure you find a good fit for you. When I was applying for a couple of jobs at the beginning of my second Co-op term, it was quite hectic and I had a lot of questions. I cannot express how relieved I was after discussing some difficult decisions with Marcia. She always gave me such expert advice, which I feel played a huge role in getting me to where I am today. My second Co-op was very different than my first, which was exactly what I wanted. I got a position as an associate at a communication and consulting firm called Cornerstone Planning, located on Granville Island. This was very new to me working in an office but I was very excited, and again Marcia was there to give me advice when it came to communicating professionally with my employer surrounding some unfamiliar procedures.

Not only did I get to keep my job at Cornerstone as an extended co-op into my third term, but just recently I was offered a permanent position with the company in September. Co-op has truly been a great experience. I’ve learned a lot about myself and met so many amazing people along the way. Mainly Co-op has planted the seeds and helped me move towards the goals and aspirations I set for myself. It is what you make of it. If you are invested and dedicate your time,  you will reap the benefits of having a job that you love at the end of the day.

Posted on September 01, 2009