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Developing skills is an important part of Co-op, but making an impact that aligns with your values makes the experience so much more rewarding.

Your Co-op seeking term is full of opportunities. But without an idea of what you’re looking for, it can be overwhelming. As a newcomer to the communications field, I spent my first seeking term sifting through job after job like a deer in headlights, not knowing what to look for and where to look for it.

Looking back at four fruitful months as a Communications Specialist at Life Sciences BC (LSBC), I’ve realized the importance of personal values in finding a position. In future seeking terms, the first thing I’ll consider in an employer is their mission statement. This will not only cut out time and uncertainty, but lead me to a role where I can feel good about the work I’m doing.

Values are non-negotiable

LSBC is a non-government, non-profit industry organization that supports and represents the life sciences community of BC. Being able to personally get on board with LSBC’s mission to build up a provincial ecosystem where life sciences and health technology organizations thrive was crucial to my experience

An organization’s values are the pillars of any communications strategy. A successful communications strategy should always be driven by the vision and mission of the organization, and their values should be embedded in all their messaging. As a communications specialist, you cannot negotiate the values of the organization you are representing– and you shouldn't have to negotiate yours either.

First lines speak volumes

What stood out to me about the position was how easy it was for me to write the opening line of my cover letter. Though I entered the position knowing little about BC’s life sciences sector, my first thought was how grateful I was to be vaccinated against COVID, and how this brought me and my loved ones safety during the pandemic. I wrote about this in the opening line of my cover letter.

Writing the first line of a cover letter is arguably the hardest part of a job application. I was advised to write the body first and the introduction last, and while this can be a good way to overcome writer’s block, I don’t think this is the best approach. Pushing myself to write about my personal connection to an employer’s values will show me what jobs are worth applying for and will save you a lot of time in the long run.

LSBC’s values kept me motivated

After I accepted the job, the learning curve was steep and so was the buildup of my passion for LSBC’s mission. I had the opportunity to attend webinars, dig deep into LSBC’s magazine archives, and immerse myself in the online community of life sciences in BC.

One of my responsibilities was social listening for news for our website and newsletter. It was through this that I discovered the vast array of research and innovation that was accelerating in the community. BC is home to the fastest growing life sciences ecosystem in Canada. Being able to witness and celebrate our members’ success and the cohesive optimism that our community possesses for overcoming the world’s health problems and achieving a healthier world was inspiring.

If I was not excited by success in the sector, I don’t think my experience would have been nearly as rewarding as it was. LSBC’s values gave me a sense of purpose, encouraging me to think creatively to reach wider audiences and build community in our sector. Developing skills is an important part of Co-op, but making an impact that aligns with your values makes the experience so much more rewarding.

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