Michelle Muravi waited until the end of her degree to begin her co-op journey, but once she started her only regret was that she waited so long to start. “I didn’t have a lot of work experience besides research positions within the university. So I wanted to get more work experience outside of the university setting,” Michelle explained. “Co-op seemed like a good choice, it seemed like it made the most sense. A lot of people that I talked to really recommended it.”
A co-op work term also provided a much needed break in Michelle’s studies at SFU where she had been working towards a certificate in sustainable development, but wasn’t sure where to go next. “The job market was really, really scary,” she said. “People with Masters Degrees and five years of experience were having trouble finding entry level jobs. At least when you’re in co-op you’re on a more even playing field.”
For her first co-op term, Michelle spent the majority of the 2010-11 season with the Vancouver Canucks Community Relations team. This put her in the position of helping to plan community events, responding to fan requests and rounding up those adorable mini minor players you see at intermission, just to name a few of her never ending tasks.
Apart from the chance to work with a great team of coworkers, this variety of duties was her favourite part of the job. “You get to experience so many things that normally you wouldn’t get to experience, from working at a big gala, to going behind the scenes of a hockey game, to sitting in the press box, even just hearing press releases before other people hear them,” she explained.
While variety can be the spice of life, in the workplace it also keeps you busy trying to keep up with multiple projects. If you’ve read the previous We Are All Canucks articles I think you’ll sense that this is a trend among their interns. “You need to have a lot of energy to get things done,” she said. “The hours can be very long, you can be here from 9am to 10pm... I think you have to know how to manage your time really well, how to prioritize, because it’s a job where you’re never completely caught up... there’s always something new to come up.”
Working with the community and supporting charity work, especially with an organization that has as large of an impact as the Canucks do can be extremely rewarding, but as Michelle explains it can also quickly become the hardest part of the job.“The hardest part, hands down is having to say no to people, I’m OK at saying no if someone’s being belligerent,” she explained, “but in this job you’re dealing with donations and charities, and the reality is you have to say no when people are upset and when you really want to help these people but you can’t.”
Unfortunately, as with any charitable effort, no matter how big the organization is there will eventually be a point where nothing more can be done. “It’s not possible to always do something for everyone,” she continued, “even if you really, really want to, it’s not possible and that was really hard for me.” Despite the tough decisions that the job brought, it did inspire Michelle to pursue a career in community or media relations.
If you want to spend your co-op semester hanging out with Fin and sorting through Luongo’s fan mail, Michelle recommends you to consider doing a semester in the dialogue program before applying for the position. “It’s like having a job because you do an intensive semester where you go 5 days a week,” she explained, “so it does feel like a work environment...you’ll have a lot of ongoing projects that will overlap so you have to plan everything really well.”
Beyond the Blog
- Check out Elizabeth's Series, Diary of a Marketing Co-op, where she details her experience in Marketing with Telus.