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Sean McCloskey

SFU Student Undergraduate
Beedie School of Business › Finance | Beedie School of Business › International Business
Co-operative Education, Internship

Image of student standing outside by the ocean
My Olympic Industries headshot
It’s okay to not know what you want going into your first co-op. Ultimately, the experience itself, working with individuals from various backgrounds, asking questions, and challenging yourself will play the biggest role in self-realization.

As my first co-op begins to wind down at Olympic Industries ULC, I am extremely grateful for my experience thus far and filled with excitement about the possibilities as I think about my future in business.

Olympic Industries ULC is an International Trading firm that mainly focuses on commodity trading across the world. Olympic is a part of a large band of sister companies within the Forest City Trading Group. They are a rapidly growing firm within commodities that encourages entrepreneurship, growth, and team building.

Uncertainty About my Career Path

Throughout my degree, I put so much emphasis on maintaining an acceptable GPA and stressing over the marathon of university as if it were a sprint. Likewise, I stressed profusely about declaring my concentration at Beedie (i.e. Finance, Accounting, MIS….etc). Although, throughout the stress and sleepless nights, I completely disregarded the most important part of one’s university journey: gaining valuable experience. While it was clear that I loved business, I felt lost as I did not know my purpose, my values, or the concentration in my degree (They all seemed fun!). I joined the co-op program hoping to answer these questions. My tentative interests laid in the realms of finance and accounting. I still remember declaring my finance concentration within Beedie full of uncertainty about whether I even enjoyed finance. Yet, I still did because I thought that was what business students do.

As I entered my first co-op seeking semester full of uncertainty, I was extremely thankful for the valuable interview experiences, but I still did not know whether I was suitable for the roles I interviewed for. Though, after my interview with Olympic, I quickly knew the company’s values suited my goals. Olympic’s values of entrepreneurship, competition, growth, team-orientation, and accountability resonated with me. Moreover, I found a true passion for international business. Olympic offered me a challenging, fast-paced, and extremely rewarding environment. I truly felt a part of the team as Olympic held several team building events.

Furthermore, I was able to liaise directly with the commodity traders and learn about their roles within the company.

My Role at Olympic Industries ULC

While Olympic is a relatively small firm consisting of around 80 employees, their revenues exceed over $500 Million per year. Commodities is an extremely fast paced and competitive environment, and as an invoicing coordinator and operations assistant at Olympic, I was able to have a direct impact on operations on a daily basis. My day-to-day consisted of processing invoices and orders from traders, while simultaneously liaising with traders to ensure stringent international trading policies are followed (i.e. exchange rates and territorial taxes). I was able to learn directly from traders, operations employees, and participate in company meetings. On some days, Olympic held various team building exercises that ranged from company yoga, cooking classes (as you can see above), or pumpkin pie eating contests! Olympics ability to set a team- first company culture inspired me to want to work for a company like them in the future.

Working in North Vancouver on a daily basis while residing in Pitt Meadows allowed me to ride the West-Coast Express to work every morning with sunrises, sunsets, and beautiful views along the water. Ultimately, my experience at Olympic has started me on a new path in my passion; striving to be a part of international trade and international business and has solidified my values for a robust company culture and having a clear support system.

Image of the ocean with Vancouver buildings in the background
My view right outside our office!
The Lesson

As I reflect on my time with Olympic, my advice to my past self would be: take a deep breath. If you do not know your path initially, it will be okay. If you do not know what concentration you would like to declare, it will be okay. Not taking the conventional business route in finance and accounting is completely okay. University and internships are meant to allow you to find yourself and branch out into a realm you have not experienced before; it is okay to initially be uncertain about what you want from your career. Ultimately, without applied experience you will never know. Engaging in a co-op will teach you your values, interests, and give you clear insight on what you want for the future. Personally, I do not foresee myself becoming an invoicing coordinator or accountant in the future, although this experience has taught me more about myself and my career desires than academics have thus far. My advice: take a chance even if you do not know what to expect. Ask questions, challenge yourself, and be open to new experiences and you will learn so much about yourself. These past few months have shown me I am capable of so much more, and without this co-op experience I would have never known. I am proud of my accomplishments and now realize how important it was it for me to step out of my comfort zone and live this invaluable experience.

Author

Sean McCloskey

SFU Student Undergraduate
Beedie School of Business › Finance | Beedie School of Business › International Business
Co-operative Education, Internship
visibility  216
Mar 11, 2024

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