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Sophia Humphries

she/her
SFU Student Undergraduate
Communication, Art + Technology
Co-operative Education

The most valuable aspects of this experience would be the skills that I can now confidently put on my resume. I now possess numerous important skills that can be used toward my next co-op position and career after graduation.  
Experience Details
Semester
Fall
Year
2023
Application and Interview Tips
  • Get to know the company that you are applying to (in many of my interviews I had to provide the company values or break down an acronym that was in their mission statement) 
  • Take your time in the interview. It is okay to pause and think about your answer to questions before you respond.
  • Apply to many jobs just to get your foot in the door, once you go to the interview you can decide if the job is a good fit for you.
  • You are also interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Is it a good company to work for? Does it fit your personal goals?
  • Schedule a practice interview with the co-op team before you interview, it is really helpful. 
  • Rehearse some common interview questions before you get into your interview so that you can maximize your answers (tell me about yourself, what is your greatest weakness, tell me about a situation when...)
Introduction + Preparation

With the help of the co-op team I was well prepared to start my first co-op term, they greatly supported the whole process. Another thing that I found helpful was to read some of the previous CMNS job reports from this job and similar positions at SFU. This helped me to see the tasks that I would reponsible for and brush up on some skills. For example, this job heavily uses Canva and so I went through all of the basic functions on my own time to make sure I was up to date on it. I also looked at skills that I would need to improve on, like photoshop and watched some basic tutorials. 

Additionally, I got to know the building a little better before my first day. The best preparation was having an onboarding day with the previous co-op student before my first official day of work. I was then able to study all of the notes that she left behind about the job. 

Previous Experience

Being an SFU CMNS student provided me with the best preparation to start the job. There was not a huge transition from being a student up on campus to a worker. I have had previous volunteer experience with the school through the Dean's Advisory Council and the World Literature Student Led Conference and this job had many similarities. I have been a part-time worker for many years and the work ethic and professionalism has carried on from that. 

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

I had the opportunity to overlap with the previous co-op student which was extremely helpful. She was incredibly patient and I was able to see what a day in the position looks like. We went over current projects that she was working on and she demonstrated some of the more difficult tasks that I would have to do. She left a handbook about projects that were in the works, passcodes for all the social media accounts and instructions on how to conduct some of the tasks.  

My boss was incredibly patient. We went through tasks together for the first couple of days so that I could see how things were done. After that I had full reign of tackling tasks by myself and would just show my boss before I submitted them. All of the faculty and staff were super welcoming. I had lessons from the tech crew to show me how to use the photography and videography equipment and they accompanied me to my first video series shoot to ensure that it went smoothly.  

I also worked with the SFU engagement co-op student and together we got familiar with the office. 

Day to Day

My day-to-day tasks involved administrative duties such as answering emails, attending meetings and scheduling sessions with people to create content. Most of my time was spent using Canva where I created graphics for upcoming events and newsletters. I was in charge of creating and posting content on our main social media platforms: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I worked on two video series: "Faculty Feature Videos" and "Comms Corner." These involved setting up times with faculty and students to meet and then film. For the "Comms Corner" I created a new question each week and then coordinated with undergraduate students to be interviewed. Once I had the footage, I was in charge of editing it into a format for reels on Instagram.  

Other tasks that I had day-to-day were updating the CMNS website using AEM, helping faculty members create event graphics, using Hootsuite to schedule posts throughout the day, using Linktree to put links into our Instagram bio, using Instagram threads and creating a digital metrics report for the end of the semester. 

The CMNS 50th Anniversary was our focus throughout the term. We had four keynote speaker talks, an alumni event and a two-day research symposium. I was in charge of creating the graphics for these events that were used for the posters, the event slideshow, the programs and the pamphlets. We had ads that were put on CBC to promote this event.  I then attended a few and helped with registration, taking photos and helping the event run smoothly.  

Some of the larger events that I was a part of this term were helping at Convocation, running the monthly Coffee Hour, helping prepare and run the seven CMNS 50th Anniversary events, the Faculty Headshot Day and doing the graphics for the honors' showcase. 

Learning and Adaptation

There were many new tasks that I learnt during this position. It was nice because once I learned them, I had the opportunity to continue using the same platforms over the duration of the term. I had experience using Canva before, but it is a platform that I have used every day on the job. I have greatly improved my ability to use it and being able to download and resize different forms of my graphics. I have learnt how to use Hootsuite to schedule my posts and Linktree to put my URLs into the Instagram bio.  

This was my first official office job and with that comes a lot of learning and adaptation in itself. It is new for me to sit at a desk all day, in my previous jobs I have always been on my feet. I would say that was one of the biggest adaptations to working in this position. I have gotten into the routine of constantly checking my emails, responding in a timely manner and attending professional meetings.

I have learnt a lot more behind the scenes about the School of Communication. All the staff that keep things running smoothly and getting on a first name basis with some of my professors. I have a better understanding of the School itself and this will be invaluable to me going forward in my degree.

Accomplishments and Challenges

One of my most notable accomplishments was creating the post that got the most amount of likes on the CMNS Instagram. I was able to track this achievement by conducting the monthly analytic report and comparing it to all the other posts. I have learned so much more about using social media and how to maximize engagement. Another accomplishment that I'm proud of is seeing all of the preparation for the CMNS 50th Anniversary events come into fruition. From the beginning of the term, we have been working on the graphics and socials for these events and then being able to attend the events and seeing them all in person is highly rewarding.

The two biggest challenges that I had to face in this position were using AEM and dealing with the TA strike. I was granted access to AEM but for some reason it would not let me access the functions that I needed. Because of this, I missed out on quite a bit of time that I could have spent learning it. Due to the loss of time I did not get to learn as much on the platform as I would have liked. 

The TA strike was another obstacle that we had to overcome. We had to cancel our faculty headshot day and other events, which decreased our content production of the whole month. At times, it was difficult working partially from home and in the office because we could not get all the things done that we would have liked to. Once the strike ended, there were a lot of missed filming opportunities that could not be made up because everyone else was also behind.

Cultural and Environmental Observations

It was a transformative experience to be able to work with such a talented and driven group of professors. Being in a workplace where everyone is passionate about their work and on a high paced schedule is the kind of job that I would like in the future. The culture prioritized academia and the continuation of learning. Other environmental observations that I had about the faculty was that it always seemed like they were up for a healthy debate. The staff were all very friendly and just doing their best to support the faculty and students. 

Social and Extracurricular Activities

The work group was quite social. We got to spend a lot of time together outside of work hours at all the CMNS 50th Anniversary celebrations. We would go out for lunch together at times, the staff would go to the dining hall or out for lunch. I had the chance to work with the outreach engagement co-op student and we spent a lot of time together in the lounge working on joint projects.  

At the CMNS 50th Anniversary celebrations I was always working with the president of the CMNSU (Communication Student Union) and through this exposure I joined the student union. I am now a creative coordinator for this club and I wouldn't have been if not for this co-op. 

Wrap Up

Nearing the end of the term I have been able to reflect on how much I have learnt. In wrapping up I have been in charge of putting all my files onto a one drive account so that they will be accessible after I leave, I must conduct a digital metrics analysis of all the social media accounts for the term and work on a handbook for the next co-op student.  In writing this report I have really been able to be more appreciative of the experience that I have had. I am excited to update my resume and list all of the things that I have learnt within this position. 

Reflection & Tips
Reflection

Through this co-op I have been able to implement some of the theories that I have learnt in my CMNS classes. It has given me the opportunity to develop professional communication skills in the workplace such as interpersonal skills in an academic setting, content creation, videography, photography, video and photo editing, writing, administrative tasks and many other important skills. I am thankful to have had a team of people who were only looking for me to succeed, from my boss to the technical team, the office staff and the co-op team.  

I have come a long way since the beginning of my co-op. I have been able to fine tune my graphic design skills, not think twice before sending out an email and understanding more of the strategy behind posting on social media. I have made connections with many people in the office that will continue even after my co-op ends. Being able to participate in the CMNS 50th Anniversary events was the highlight of my work term. I was able to see the full development of my work from start to end and see its impact. As I have been doing the analytics report, it has been gratifying to see that the engagement for every month has been increasing since I have started. It has shown that all the work that I have done has been important. It is a cool thought that some of the content that I have created will exist around the school for years to come.  

I have learned many skills that I will be able to apply toward future jobs that I may have. It has elevated me as a worker and a student. Because I have been surrounded by so many driven people, I will carry this energy into my studies when I return to classes this spring. It has given me a better idea of where I need to be to achieve my goals. I have found more of a direction in my career path, and I know this job has opened many career opportunities for me in the coming years. 

Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

The most valuable aspects of this experience would be the skills that I can now confidently put on my resume. I have spent the term learning more about social media analytics, website updates, content creation, graphic design, photography, videography and many other important skills. I now possess numerous important skills that can be used toward my next co-op position and career after graduation.  

It has been great being able to work within SFU. It has opened me up to many different opportunities that I did not know existed. Because of this job I joined the CMNSU, and I am now a creative coordinator with them. I now have the intention to apply for the exchange program and I learned about this through talking with the advisors in the office. I will apply for some of the awards and scholarships in the future as well as looking into the performing at the Undergraduate Conference for Communication.  

I have developed relationships with staff and faculty that will continue on after the end of this term. It has been great as a student to get to know all the professors on a more personal level. When choosing classes for next semester I was very excited to be in some of their classes.  

The number one thing that I took away from this experience was a better direction of my career path. This is a job that I could see myself doing for a career. Although I would love to take this experience and see what other doors it opens.

Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

This experience has contributed to both my academic studies and my career goals. When I head back to classes next semester, I am excited to have some of the professors that I have worked with throughout my co-op. I want to focus on my academics so that I am able to qualify for some scholarships within the school. I am also planning to apply for the exchange program at some point, specifically the school of Amsterdam. After talking with the advisors, it is a place that comes highly recommended. I think that this would be a great opportunity to grow both socially and academically.

As far as career goals go, I am not exactly sure yet what I would like to do. I did enjoy the content creation aspect of this co-op and I could see myself doing this in the future. This is my first co-op term and I plan on doing two more. I have developed a strong skill set that will help me acquire a more competitive co-op placement.

In the initial process of co-op, we had to plan our courses by semester, and it has been helpful for me to be able to visualize what the last two years of my schooling will look like. After the experiences in this co-op, I would like to take more computer technical courses and courses that relate to sound.

Advice for Future Students

My advice for future students would be to keep an open mind throughout the whole process. This was my first seeking term and I really did not have a clear idea of what kind of job I was looking for. As I went through the interview process and learned more about certain job positions it helped to solidify an idea of what I was looking for. I viewed my first co-op term as an opportunity to gain my first professional experience that will help me get a more competitive job in future terms.

I would also say that staying organized is crucial to success in the job. Especially when there is so much going on, using a google calendar will save you. Throughout the day I would write the tasks down that I wanted to accomplish and this helped craft consistent productivity.

Lastly, working at SFU is a great place for a co-op. The system is extremely supportive of their co-op students and it is nice to work in a place that you have connections to.

Author

Sophia Humphries

she/her
SFU Student Undergraduate
Communication, Art + Technology
Co-operative Education
visibility  151
Dec 6, 2023