I remember the day I got the job offer from BC Housing like it was yesterday. One funny thing about the application process is that I was offered the position just hours after I completed the interview. As I usually hear back from an employer two days to two weeks after the interview, it was completely unexpected. Although I am no stranger to the co-op application process, having already completed three work terms, I was both excited and nervous to receive the call. I was excited because I would finally gain work experience related to my area of study, but nervous to start a new job and not know anyone there.
BC Housing provides affordable and quality housing for a wide range of groups such as the homeless, seniors, low-income families, people with disabilities, new homeowners, and more. Although BC Housing’s home office is located in Burnaby, there are offices all over the province including Prince George, Victoria, Penticton, Coquitlam, and Vancouver. I joined BC Housing as an Engagement Assistant in the Human Resources department at the home office in Burnaby. As a Bachelor of Business Administration student focusing on Human Resources, this position was a perfect fit. However, what really drew me to this position was the opportunity to help plan, organize, and assist with various internal events. I already loved organizing and helping with events through my extra-curricular activities at SFU, so being able to do that for a co-op position was a dream come true.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t overwhelmed during the first few days. With over 700 employees in the organization and over 300 employees in the home office alone, it was a struggle to remember all of my co-worker’s names, not to mention each of their respective roles. In addition to learning about my role and responsibilities, I also had to learn about all of the programs offered to the many groups BC Housing serves. As well as about past events BC Housing had held and upcoming events that I would be working on. Thankfully, I was able to spend time with the co-op student I was replacing, who is also an SFU student. She really helped me get a better understanding of the organization’s processes and procedures. What was also helpful was attending an HR Information Session and a Staff Orientation to learn more about the organization as a whole, as opposed to just my department and role.
Never a Dull Moment
As with any job there are many different types of duties and responsibilities. For me this includes administrative duties, scheduling meetings, writing internal articles, updating the HR website, and so much more. However, the most enjoyable part of my job was assisting with the planning of many different types of workshops and internal events, ranging from as little as ten attendees to as many as 500. Also, this year is BC Housing’s 50th Anniversary, which means there have been even more fun contests and events to celebrate. For example, I was one of the main organizers for the Canada’s 150th and BC Housing’s 50th Anniversary Summer BBQ event. This role involved writing and submitting an internal news article to promote the event, selling food tickets, coordinating orders from confirmed attendees, and preparing games. I love being able to work behind the scenes to make an event happen, no matter how big or small my role is.
I am just a few months in to my work term and this experience has already been so rewarding. Not only am I learning more about human resources, my communication, organizational, and event planning skills have already improved. This opportunity has helped open my eyes to issues around the province that I normally would turn a blind eye to. For example, during the staff orientation and housing tour conducted for new employees, I was able to visit a number of housing developments and shelters that BC Housing is affiliated with in the Downtown Eastside, an area notorious for homelessness, open-air drug use, and crime. We also got to visit MacLean Park, an area with numerous housing units rented by seniors, low-income families, and people with disabilities directly managed at BC Housing. It was really humbling to see the impact of the work done at BC Housing. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy working here as staff can know they are making a difference no matter what level or position they are working at.
I’m very thankful to have gotten this opportunity to gain real work experience related to my studies while also being able to learn more about the city I grew up in. I’m already looking forward to the remaining months of my work placement at BC Housing.
Beyond the Blog
Learn about opportunities like Kathy's by visiting the Beedie School of Business Co-op homepage.