Faculty of Health Sciences student Morgan Karugaba shares his experience for students striving to take the lead in a student developed (previously self-directed) Co-op. Like many students, Karugaba found himself in a place of uncertainty - unaware how or where to start looking for a job. He overcame challenges by stepping out of his comfort zone, and shares how others can do the same.
“Being an undergrad with no experience working in the healthcare field, my perspective of what I could do was limited,” Karugaba says. “My number one piece of advice for current or future students considering applying to Co-op is to attend career fairs to connect with employers and attend alumni career peer events” he further suggests.
“When networking with a potential employer, express your interest and desire to learn and grow. Be open to taking on new challenges and learn new skills, things don’t have to happen linearly - pave your own path.”
By connecting with managers of different health authorities, Karugaba was determined to secure a Co-op position in health care. At SFU’s career fair, he connected with the manager of Interior Health Authority’s (IHA) Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit and expressed his desire to learn and understand the world of healthcare.
Through determination, he secured a position as a Data Analyst for the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit at IHA. In this role, Karugaba’s daily tasks included arranging meetings, identifying the strengths and limitations of data, report writing, data engineering, as well as conducting literature reviews. The impact and variety of the tasks allowed him to learn what worked and what didn't in terms of presenting information, and how to communicate complex concepts in a way that is easy to understand by people with different levels of technical knowledge. Karugaba learned the vital role project management plays, as it allows for the breaking down of assignments and setting deadlines to help achieve common goals.
As an international student from Uganda, Co-op has given Karugaba better insight into working in Health Care in Canada. It has helped him adjust to the Canadian work culture by allowing him to immerse himself into the working world and connect with local employers and colleagues to learn what skills are essential for success in Health Care Data Analysis.
Ultimately, Karugaba has learned more about himself throughout his Co-op journey and developed a deep interest in the health care field of harm reduction. Specifically, through Co-op, he has found that his interests lie in the areas of mental health, substance use, and injury surveillance. In the near future, he plans to take more courses towards his undergraduate degree and continue to search for more Co-op positions.
This blog was originally posted on the Faculty of Health Sciences news and events page.