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Samantha De Leon

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

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Through working for a health authority, especially in the middle of a pandemic, I began to understand the important role that communicators play.

“Communication? What do you do in Communication?”

I won’t lie. I hate this question.

And it’s not because I dislike my courses or the work that I do. Or because of the skeptical look I sometimes get when I tell someone I chose to major in Communication – because “do you really need to learn how to talk to people?

It’s because I have a hard time coming up with a straightforward, concise answer to it - which is especially hard to admit for someone who is working towards a degree in Communication.

Yes, we learn how to communicate. No, that’s not just what we learn how to do.

This question has tormented me since I made the decision to switch my major. Every time it came up, I always left the conversation feeling like I'd either under-explained or over-explained my answer. A lot of the time, I’d find myself looking for an explanation that justifies why I chose communication over another field of study that leads to a more recognizable career path.

It wasn’t until my Co-op term with Fraser Health that I started to gain a solid understanding of what a career in Communication could really encompass. Through working for a health authority, especially in the middle of a pandemic, I began to understand the important role that communicators play - how crucial it is for them to provide clear and relevant information to the public to keep them informed, mitigate crises, and counter misinformation.

In an organization with lots of moving parts, I learned how fast-paced this field can be and the vast amount of work that communicators need to do in order to reach and influence their audience. With each assignment I was given, my supervisor taught me how to move from just writing content to thinking strategically about the messaging I am trying to deliver with my work. For me, this meant recognizing the type of audience I am trying to reach and leveraging the information or approach that they would value the most

The biggest thing that stuck out to me about health care communications was the fact that our audience is entitled to the information that we are trying to deliver to them.

As opposed to other sectors where Communication promotes for-profit products or services, in the health care sector, Communication promotes information that people need to make healthy choices. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became overwhelmingly clear to me that the role communicators play was not just to promote information for people’s health and well-being, but to ensure that the audience has equal access to the information that they have a right to know.

And boom - there it was. An answer to this recurring question about my degree. Maybe it’s not as simple as I wanted it to be, but it was a concrete answer. And not only did it allow me to answer the “what do you do”, but also the “why” of working in communications, and why this sector specifically?

When you work in health care communications, you have the privilege of making a direct impact on your community and their well-being. And in my opinion, that makes the work as rewarding and fulfilling as it can get.

About the Author

Samantha De Leon

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

Posts by Author

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Blog
Business Development & Sales World for Dummies (and Communication Students)

As a Communication major, I’m comfortable with hearing “the medium is the message”, getting lost in 15-page essays, and wondering why a picture of a pipe is in fact, not a pipe (shoutout CMNS 110). Throw me in a tech start-up in a (remote) business development position and well, I’m a touch out of my comfort zone. Keep reading to learn about my experience working in a business role as a Communication major. 

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Blog
Imposter Syndrome and Finding My Confidence With Co-op

Michael joined SFU’s Co-op program during his first year and quickly realized one thing as he began the job search process: projecting confidence and composure are key to showing your best points and skills. Continue reading to learn more about how Michael dealt with imposter syndrome and found his confidence with Co-op. 

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Blog
What Is It Really Like Working For a Non-Profit?

I have always wanted to work at a non-profit organization. While my main objective during my first Co-op term was to gain experience in the Communication field, that goal to work at a non-profit had always remained in the back of my mind. Keep reading to learn more about my experience working for a non-profit. 

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A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

Having completed my first work term for Health Canada as a Communications Officer Intern, I was eager to try something new, and the government was not where I believed that was going to happen. That is until I was offered a position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

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Surviving Workplace Politics

Ever been peeved with workplace politics? Have you ever been a victim of office politics? One student shares her experiences from the workplace with tips on how to survive.

 

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Responsibility and Success

One of the most memorable parts of my time in co-op was the collection of accidents, errors, mistakes, and mix-ups that happened in the course of working in the laboratory.

 

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Blog
How Working in the Health Care Sector during a Pandemic Rekindled My Passion for Communication Work
Co-op Reflections, Communication, Career Exploration, Professional Development, Personal Development, Student Success, Workplace Success

Communication? What do you do in Communication? It wasn't until my Co-op term with Fraser Health that I started to gain a solid understanding of what a career in Communication could really encompass. Keep reading to learn about how working in the healthcare sector during a pandemic rekindled my passion for Communication work. 

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8 Reasons Why You Should Consider an 8-month Co-op Placement

Emir was asked during his Co-op hiring interview if he would consider an 8-month placement. He was anxious about making it through 4 months, never mind 8. But soon enough the third month came around and Emir has a second chance to consider an extension. Here are his 8 reasons for why you should a Co-op extension.

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A Humbling First Experience

On the first day of school, your hearts racing, sweat is forming across the forehead and you're nervous beyond belief. Now imagine attending school as a co-op student on your first work term at Mediated Learning Academy - That's exactly how Andrew felt. Read about his experience with MLA!

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Networking Opportunities at SAP

Did you ever think about taking advantage of networking opportunities at your workplace while you are on your co-op?  Business student Helen Bowman discusses the networking opportunities she was able to take advantage of during her co-op at SAP.