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Sophie McCann

Arts + Social Sciences › School for International Studies | Arts + Social Sciences › Global Asia

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I wanted to have experiences that would be easily applicable not only to future Co-op positions, but also in my future career.

Why I Applied for This Position

When I started my co-op job search, I didn’t have a certain career or path in mind. Despite being an International Studies major, I found that job postings within international relations required skills and experiences that I didn’t have yet, such as experience with writing policy briefs and detailed knowledge on specific geographical regions. My work experience to this point consisted of part-time jobs and volunteering throughout high school, so I wanted to find a position that taught me soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership. I wanted to have experiences that would be easily applicable not only to future Co-op positions, but also in my future career.

To broaden my job search beyond international studies-related positions, I began looking for jobs not only within my home faculty—SFU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)—but also positions designated as Communications and Business co-op positions as well. Little known fact (that I thank my Co-op advisor for telling me): SFU Co-op students can apply to positions from all of the university’s eight faculties, no matter their home faculty.

I was interested in positions within Communications for a variety of reasons. One, I had heard many positive things from friends who had taken positions within Communications for their Co-op semesters. Although they were Communications majors, I knew that we had many skills in common, including social media management and graphic design.

My position as a Marketing and Communications Assistant with FASS required experience in graphic design and social media management, and my employers specifically looked for applicants who had experience with Adobe platforms such as InDesign and Photoshop. Although I didn’t have direct experience with Adobe platforms, I worked as the external relations representative, main graphic designer, and social media manager for SFU’s Global Asia Studies Student Union two years prior to my job search. This position taught me graphic design, social media, communication, and student engagement skills. It was these skills, and my interest in developing them, that gave me the confidence to explore communications positions and pursue my position with FASS. It was a pleasant surprise to have my search for a Communications position lead me back to my home faculty as FASS has its own internal marketing and communications unit!

My Daily Tasks and Responsibilities

Some of my daily tasks included daily monitoring of the FASS social media, including their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. I created original content, including graphics and copy, for these platforms. I also updated the FASS website and wrote articles for FASS News. Not only did I get to experience working with a close-knit team of professional communicators within the FASS Marketing and Communications team, but I collaborated with communicators, faculty, and staff throughout the many departments within FASS, including World Languages and Literatures, Indigenous Studies, and English.

Some of the projects that I’m most proud of are the articles I wrote and posted on FASS News and my re-vamp of the FASS Instagram account. These projects helped me develop the creative and professional aspects of myself by allowing me to explore the variety of opportunities available within the realm of communications.

For example, my article on 2021 Convocation speaker and Psychology graduate Jennifer Chou allowed me to highlight some of the amazing extracurricular work and community-engagement done by FASS students. The impact of Jennifer’s work in groups such as the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS), SFU’s Disability and Neurodiversity Alliance (DNA), and the SFU Knitting Club can be felt even after she graduated. I was able to show a different side of what a FASS degree can look like by focusing on the ways that the work she did outside of her major influenced her university experience and future job opportunities.

I was also fortunate enough to be able to integrate my personal interests with my job by writing an article introducing the new chair of the Global Asia program, Nadine Attewell. As a Global Asia minor and executive member of the Global Asia Studies Student Union, I was especially interested in learning more about both her personal work as well as her plans for the future of the program.

Finally, my most recent project is a re-vamp of the current FASS Instagram page’s feed. Because I found that our feed looked cluttered and unorganized, I wanted to create more content that would remain relevant as time went on. This meant redesigning the feed to have three designated columns: a) one for highlighting or promoting current events happening within FASS departments, b) one for posting evergreen content with information on FASS programs, staff, faculty, and students, and c) one for “throwback” posts highlighting past events and achievements within the FASS community.

What My Co-op Terms Taught Me

One major struggle that I faced while working in this position was confidence. Since this was my first real job experience, during the first few months I was nervous about making mistakes or disappointing my supervisor. I had never worked in a full time, professional position like this before, and I wasn’t too confident in my technical skills, especially when it came to graphic design. However, I quickly found that reaching out for help and advice was the best way to learn and improve. My supervisor helped me a lot in those first few months with direct, one-on-one training that stemmed from me asking for help. Throughout my co-op semesters, I became more confident in both my skills and myself.

The FASS Marketing and Communications team is always looking to advertise the faculty to new students applying to SFU. However, many students wonder what jobs a Bachelor of Arts (BA) can lead to. They also worry that they may find themselves without strong employment opportunities if they decide to major in a discipline within FASS. At the start of my major, I found myself thinking the same things. Many of my friends from high school had gone into Engineering, Science, or Math, giving them clearer career paths compared to what I had in International Studies.

My experience within the co-op program changed all that. From my first job applications to the last few weeks of my time with FASS, I’ve learned first-hand how a BA can lead to amazing job opportunities and both professional and personal growth. Although my co-op didn’t seem related to my major, it was my passion for my minor program that helped me develop the skills necessary to work within communications. If I hadn’t decided to get involved with the Global Asia Student Union, I would have never discovered my interests in graphic design and social media management.

I also now feel confident that no matter what job I decide to pursue in the future—whether it’s related to communications, Global Asia, or international relations—the communication, leadership, creativity, and teamwork skills that I’ve gained in this position will forever be a huge asset. These flexible, transferable skills, and wide variety of options for a future career is what I love about both studying and working within FASS.

Author

Sophie McCann

Arts + Social Sciences › School for International Studies | Arts + Social Sciences › Global Asia

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