Creative Co-op Students Redefine the End-of-Workterm Project

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Creative Co-op Students Redefine the End-of-Workterm Project

By: Sage Testini | Student OLC Coordinator and MarComm Assistant
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Patricia Pama, who goes by Trixie, and Ali Huynh, Co-op students from SFU Work Integrated Learning, explain how they diverted off of the traditional path to apply their own creativity to the end-of-workterm project. Their project took the form of a promotional video for Work Integrated Learning that asks the question, "Why WIL?" Ultimately, the video accomplishes two things: it makes for an interesting end-of-term project and it serves as a recruitment tool for the organization they worked for:

How did you come up with the idea?

Trixie: In mid-June, when we got involved in the recruitment process for our successors, we noticed that there were not a lot of students that apply to our roles and there was a need for a better approach to attract them. We pitched the idea a while back; but due to the limited time we had, the video didn’t push through.

Why did you decide to this for your end of term project?

Trixie: We realized that the idea was a deviation from what the co-op office asked us to do: they originally asked us to do an information interview, where we interview our co-workers about their roles, and then write a reflection of our own experience in the workplace. In the end, we still gave them what they want from us, except we reinterpreted their requirements in a more creative manner.

Ali: We were aiming to show the environment in a more tangible way than an essay, considering our skill sets. We found that there were certain things that we couldn’t easily express on paper.

Trixie: Both of us naturally tend to create things rather than write. The whole idea of putting the video together was a play on our strengths rather than just doing what was asked of us to do.

Ali: Our project was also more representative of what we’ve been doing in our roles here at Work Integrated Learning. We not only reflected on our experience, but solidified what we learned about marketing and recruitment through our work terms in our own project.

What was the process like? Did you have to pitch the idea first?

Trixie: After failing to implement it initially, a second opportunity opened up to revive the suggestion which was for our end of term report. We pitched the idea to our supervisor, Adam, and asked for his support on the alternative project. All three of us approached the SIAT co-op advisor to propose it. The minute we got their approval, we started working on making it happen. Fortunately enough, we had a rough idea of how we wanted to approach it from attempting to pitch it a couple of months back.

Ali: The pitch was fairly pivotal in creating this project. The idea came from us, it wasn’t an assignment from our supervisor. If we hadn’t suggested it, we probably would have just done an information interviewed as outlined.

Trixie: There was nothing to lose from pitching it. We had to evaluate the project based on its pros and cons: it was a resource that the department could utilize even after we’ve left, but then it required time to create and we had to work around various people’s schedules to get an interview with them. Obviously, the pros outweighed the cons, and that was a go signal for us to do it.

Ali: One of the difficulties we encountered was translating all of the information that would have been included in the information interview essay to a 5 minute recruitment video. As a trade off, the video format would allow us greater creativity and better emphasize the experiential aspect. We thought showing the overall experience and what we learned was the more important aspect.

Trixie: Part of the process was that we had to go through the requirements in the original brief, and ensure that we completely understand what they were asking of us and why they were asking for it.

Ali: We also wanted to do something that would be beneficial to others as well, rather than just ourselves. We thought a creative student-created video project showing the work environment could be an asset to our department. The first reflective essay I did was to complete the requirement, while the video project was much more memorable and valuable to me.

What advice would you give to future co-op students thinking about doing a creative end of term project?

Ali: Start early.

Don’t follow the instructions blindly, especially if you feel that you have an idea that would work better. You have nothing to lose by proposing a new idea.

You have a unique role as a co-op student, an opportunity to see your work in real contexts while still being a student. Why not try to get one of your own ideas off the ground?

Trixie: If you strongly believe that you can do things differently, there’s no harm in voicing it out. Sometimes, it might not work for several different reasons, but never kill an idea just for that. Maybe it just needs a better time and place for it to thrive.

The reason they hire co-op students is because they encourage new ideas in the workplace. You should own that role.

Why is it beneficial to do an end of term project in this way?

Trixie: Because it’s comforting to know that our brainchild has found a home in the department, and can make an impact. It’s not just another requirement that we needed to hand in for marks. It actually gives back to the place that taught us so much during our work term.

What Trixie's and Ali's supervisor, Adam Brayford, had to say about the project:

I am proud of Ali and Trixie's work. Their video showcases their talents in video production, and I'm also glad to see that they had a great time working for SFU WIL. Moreover, I think the video will be a highly effective recruitment tool for all departments within Work Integrated Learning that hire co-op students.

Posted on August 29, 2013