Joshua's Job Tips: Branching Out and Standing Out at the BC Cancer Agency

Joshua's Job Tips: Branching Out and Standing Out at the BC Cancer Agency

By: Joshua Koehn
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My position as a Research Student at the BC Cancer Agency has really opened my eyes to the intricacy of Cancer and all the complications that come along with it. Cancer biology was not something I had experience in and I had never anticipated that this would be a Co-op position that I could secure, especially since my last Co-op had been in the Forde Lab at SFU studying Biophysics!

This exposure to the wide reaching severity of Cancer related illness has inspired me to reach outside of my workplace, outside of the 9 to 5 and do something on my own terms. I had seen posters about the Ride to Conquer Cancer walls at work during a time I was wishing I could get more involved. I made a spur of the moment decision and signed up! Joining the BC Cancer Foundation’s team was a great decision as it was made up of the researchers and physicians who work for the BC Cancer Agency. I found the right place as we all were seeking for the benefit of patients we interacted with and hoping for their cure.

It definitely was a larger undertaking than I initially thought as the minimum amount to fundraise to participate in the 240km ride was $2500. However, the hours spent fundraising felt worth it to me as the Ride to Conquer Cancer allowed me to make a difference in Cancer research and care. I fundraised to support people who are suffering from Cancer currently and those who will in the future. The BC Cancer Foundation reports that 1 in 3 BC residents will be diagnosed with Cancer in their life time and thus I have undoubtedly benefitted so many people!

Working in the Vancouver General Hospital area also gave me the opportunity to work with many people to help reach my fundraising goal. Around the BC Cancer Research Center are buildings with the same goals: the Cancer Agency, the Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society and others. I knew this would be the place I would make my mark!

So I got down to doing what I love, (other than science!) and I started baking cakes! Using the union wide email system I was able to communicate my fundraising efforts, why I was raising money, advertising my cakes and meanwhile getting my face and name out to everyone in the area. I spent long days in the kitchen but it was worth it because I surpassed my goal of $2500 and ended up raising nearly $4200! 

I loved being a part of something bigger than my work in the lab. It is meaningful to me to know that my fundraising efforts could save someone’s life or positively impact their care. I was also thrilled that I was supported by so many friends, family and co-workers! They all had a place in my 240km ride on the Fathers Day weekend.

Now at my job people smile and wave at me, they know me by name or as the “cake guy”. Through my efforts I also became acquainted with other active researchers and oncologists who were riding for the BC Cancer Foundation team with me. If I wish to come back to the BC Cancer Agency one day after my degree, people there will know that I am socially active, self-motivated, hard working and passionate about curing cancer. That’s the kind of impression I wanted to leave behind me when I was finished this Co-op.

Look outside of your job during Co-op to see how you can enhance the way you make a positive impact at your workplace. Take an adventure that you will not regret!



Joshua is a fourth year student studying Biomedical Physiology and is a big supporter of the Co-op Program at SFU. He enjoys volunteering in initiatives that seek for positive change in individuals or in himself. Even though he is always busy looking to find his way into a career in medicine, he still finds time to plan epic adventures into the BC backcountry and tries to get the most fun out of his life!  Check out what else Joshua has been up to during his Co-op to make an impression with BPK Mentoring, or have a look at his LinkedIn profile.

Beyond the Article:

  • If  you are interested in Biomedical Physiology and Kineisology (BPK), check out SFU's BPK page.
  • Learn more about SFU's Co-op program and get started on your career.
Posted on July 22, 2014