Genevieve Cheng

June 05, 2023
Genevieve Cheng (Photo credit: The Artona Group)

Meet Genevieve Cheng, a charming, versatile, and enterprising student with an incredibly envious resume. She graduates this week with a Communication Major and a Print and Digital Publishing Minor.

From volunteering with the SFU Communication Student Union (CMNSU) to hosting the FCAT After School podcast (the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology’s first podcast project) to headlining a media literacy project titled Sharing Isn’t Caring, Genevieve is a true all-rounder!

As Genevieve dotingly reflected on her academic journey, she shared her experiences and her plans for the future, one of which is pursuing a master's degree.

Congratulations on finishing your Bachelors! You are officially graduating on Friday. How does it feel? 

Exciting! It took me five years to get here, so I am definitely ready to move on from my undergraduate career. I took two semesters of co-op and one semester off to travel, on top of several semesters of very small course-loads because I wanted to work on the side, so I am surprised to even finish within 5 years! 

Did you enjoy the co-op program? Would you recommend it to students? 

The idea is to get work experience while you are still in school and that is always better, especially if you are doing a Communication Major or a Publishing Minor or any other arts major – so anything under FCAT. You could finish school quickly and then start working entry-level jobs, but it is easier to get at least one internship onto your resume through the resources and opportunities that co-op provides. Looking back, these jobs have helped me tremendously with getting in school and out of school opportunities, as well with personal growth and making friends!

I never went into the two co-op jobs thinking this is what I want to do as a career. It was about getting the experience and seeing what careers are out there since the Communication field is really broad, and I had no idea what I wanted to do once I graduated. I would apply for any position that sounded interesting to me and try it for the four months. Those opportunities helped me gain experience and references, which is, of course, important for future work. It is really great to get recommendations from you managers or co-workers in co-op because it is work that directly relates to your field, but it also shows that you took initiative during your degree to try co-op out! 

One of the jobs I did was for a tech company, a start-up of sorts, which was remote (Spring 2021), and the other was for a marketing agency, which was in-person, but I was still able to take a half day on Thursdays and then go to a lecture. It was nice to get a few courses done as I was working. The marketing agency job was eye-opening because I was suddenly exposed to the world of business, adult conversations, international companies, and client relationships. Although it was overwhelming at first, it was also educational. Even though I don’t see myself wanting to pursue either of those fields of work, they gave me a ton of real-world experience doing tasks that I will apply to whatever career I end up in. 

Even if you end up hating the job that you do, it is only four months, and you get the experience while getting paid for it, so I highly recommend it. You become aware of your dislikes, and you gain some clarity, which is also a good thing. Just give it your best shot. 

What about your plans after graduation? Where do you see yourself? What is your vision for the future? 

Yeah, I do! 

I got into the new Master of Arts (MA) program, which the School of Communication just announced in December 2022. The CMNS MA program has a thesis option and a project option, and I will be doing the latter this fall. Once the program (Communication Research for Social Change) was announced, I immediately thought, “This is really cool!” I have always loved school and learning, but before this opportunity surfaced, I only had plans to work, which is what you typically do after graduating. Since I am not really interested in academia or research, I knew the thesis program was not for me. 

To now have this post-graduate program that focuses on applied communications research, activism and social change is amazing. These are all things that I am deeply passionate about. After my final year as an undergraduate, I've become more drawn to working for non-profit organizations, so this was perfect timing. This opportunity feels familiar and comforting because school has always been a consistent presence in my life and the initial thought of not going back was scary. Anyway, I will be working closely with Professor Martin Laba, who is incredibly fascinating and supportive. He encouraged me to apply for this program which is great because I get to work and expand on Sharing Isn’t Caring, a media literacy project I had started with a few of my classmates for one of Professor Laba’s communication courses (CMNS 425).

I will also be working in a part-time social-media position for a new company within the sports industry. Exciting stuff! I was nervous for a while, but now that I have a solid path in front of me, I feel good. Although most people who graduate feel the need or the pressure to find a career right away, I think it is more than okay to take time to explore your options. 

You previously mentioned how school has always been a safe space for you. Now that you look back, what are some of your most memorable moments at SFU? 

I started going to SFU in September 2018 and those first two years of school were amazing. It was such a different time in my life. I spent a lot of time on the Burnaby Mountain campus because it was close to my home in New Westminster. In my second year, I joined the CMNSU and there I met many people and saw them every day of the week at our office. It was great fun. I recommend joining the CMNSU or attending their events because it is a fantastic way to make connections. I am a huge introvert, but the CMNSU allowed me to build amazing relationships and reach out to the right people for advice. One of the staple events is Careers in Communication, which is a fantastic way to learn about the industry and the opportunities that are out there. 

During Covid, I moved into Vancouver proper and we had remote schooling, so things changed a lot. It was different. When I finally went back to school, after completing my two co-op work terms, I was only at the Vancouver campus because most upper-level Publishingand Communications classes were taught there. I have not set foot in Burnaby since March 2020 so it will be very weird when I graduate there this week! I am excited to see the new Student Union building, but I am also nervous because it has been so long since I was up on that campus. Truthfully speaking, I feel connected to the school, but at the same time, I feel very disconnected due to the pandemic. Anyway, I am now really looking forward to the master's program because I get another chance to experience student life on campus, which I'd missed in the last 3 years of my degree. 

You also did a Minor in Publishing. Tell us about that. What was your experience like?

I learned about the Minor when I was in the student union. A friend, who was doing the program at the time, told me about it and it was surprising because I was unaware that SFU had a publishing program. For anyone interested, you need eight courses to do the minor, and two of them can overlap with your lower-level communication requirements. Since the two courses were already taken care of, I only needed to do two lower-level courses, and the four upper- levels, of course, which I thought was interesting. The Publishing Minor is a very convenient program, and it partners perfectly with the Communication Major. 

Honestly, the publishing courses ended up being some of my favorites. The most fun ones were with Hannah McGregor. She is the coolest person. One of her courses was Technologies for Social Change, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Another one that stood out to me, even though it was not easy, was Making Knowledge Public. It is an upper-level course taught by Juan Pablo Alperin who is also very cool. His course was more of a seminar where we learned about academia; everything from getting tenured to open access and the world of academic publishing. Fascinating stuff! In fact, I think it should be a mandatory course for every major because it is extremely relevant and important, especially for us as university students. I wish I had taken his course in my first year, because you learn so much about academic sources and libraries (but I obviously could not). The assignments were very practical and I’ve used them as copywriting samples for job applications. I also talked about them and these courses when I hosted two episodes for the FCAT After School podcast. It was great!

Hosting the FCAT After School podcast must have been refreshing for you. How did that opportunity come about? 

I just saw the job opening on Instagram. It was part-time and it was paid well, which was exactly what I needed at the time. Since I was a publishing minor student, they thought I would be a good fit to host the episodes where we had Master of Publishing (MPub) alums, Jazmin Welch, and Heidi Waechtler, as guests. It was really fascinating because I got to learn about the MPub program and how doing more schooling after an undergrad can benefit your career! Stacey (the producer) and the entire FCAT team, including Emma and Stu, were amazing to work with. The experience was great. Even though I had done a few episodes for the CMNSU podcast prior to this one, I learned a lot more about audio editing, professional interviewing and narrative formation. It is a lot harder than it looks. It was a fun time. 

Finally, do you have any advice for our current and prospective students? 

I am a huge fan of trying out all opportunities while you’re a student, because why not! If it’s feasible for you, attending events, doing the co-op program, taking up other internship opportunities, or even study abroad can be so informative and are such good opportunities to take advantage of! In fact, I even applied and got into the new Communication study abroad program, which was a partnership program between SFU and Griffiths University in Brisbane, Australia. Although it was ready to take off last spring, the program was eventually cancelled due to Australia’s Covid rates. Anyway, my advice is, try everything. If you have the means, just do everything you can.

While Genevieve is nostalgic about the past, she could not be more hopeful about the future. As she prepares to walk the convocation stage on June 9, she seems determined to forge a path for herself – one that she can call her own. 

Congratulations, again, Genevieve! We, at SFU Publishing, wish you the absolute best! 

Learn more about our Undergraduate program here.