Applying for my first co-op placement, I wanted my job to be exciting, challenging, but mostly, fulfilling. I wanted to feel like I achieved something and wanted to have a purpose.
As someone who always questions what is in front of them and looks for the next steps to get to where they want to be, I can sometimes be dismissive of the reasoning behind my own goals. Working for United Way, a not-for-profit organization, has allowed me to really take a step back and become a part of something bigger than myself. While I’m primarily driven by my own achievements and my own goals, I’m also motivated by the community and its needs.
Running a Successful Campaign
United Way raises money to invest back into the community for kids and seniors in need in Lower Mainland in Vancouver. Most of this money comes from workplace campaigns by corporations and employees who donate through their organization. Often times, workplaces will hold special events and fundraising activities to give incentive to employees that would then encourage them to give back.
As a United Way Campaign Associate, it was my job to manage over one hundred and twenty campaigns by developing and implementing the right strategy. This involved a number of responsibilities such as working directly with Campaign Chairs from various organizations, planning events, analyzing data, and delivering engaging and informal presentations. By understanding stakeholders and recognizing the pivotal role that Campaign Chairs play, I was able to manage workplace campaigns effectively.
Working closely with a group of thirty other Campaign Associates, I got to know some of my co-workers very well. One thing I’ve learned from working with this amazing group of people is that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and we can all learn from one another. Most of these Campaign Associates were loaned from different companies from within varied industries ranging from banking to engineering. As one can imagine, an Account Manager from TD Canada Trust is going to possess a different skill set than a foreman from the City of Vancouver. Additionally, a twenty-two-year-old Business co-op student is going to work at a different pace than a sixty-five-year-old social worker. As weeks went by, I asked myself, “What do I bring to my team, my accounts, and to my community?”
Even though I may not have had the work experience that some of my colleagues possessed, the nature of my degree, my leadership experience, and my background in sales had prepared me for this role. I taught others, but more importantly, I learned from them – I developed skills and qualities that I will be able to carry with me in my career.
Mentorship From Managers
I had the opportunity to learn from my managers and team leaders who had years of management and directorial experience. I’ve never been afraid to ask questions and seek clarity on any given topic. I often asked my managers for feedback, whether negative or positive, because I knew this would help me grow, and learn new ways of problem-solving. As expected, this experience helped me step out of my comfort zone and be proactive in my work. They saw the hard work I put into my projects and thus, they wanted to do the best they could to advance my career. They set me up for success by introducing me to professionals in my field and allowing me to expand my network. Surrounding myself with experienced individuals who saw my passion and eagerness really helped me succeed at my job.
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