After applying to 50 jobs and going out to 12 interviews, Oscar Wong wasn’t sure he was going to land his first Co-op. Finally, on the last day of the semester, Oscar was hired at a health tech start-up for a digital marketing role and he has never looked back. Now, as a Communication alumnus working as an Internal Communications and Design Specialist at Electronic Arts, Oscar is happy to share more on how he navigated from Co-op to career.
Why did you join Co-op?
I joined Co-op because I wanted to get more hands-on experience and explore what fields of communications I wanted to work in. I knew from the get-go that I wanted to work in tech because I find all the innovations are just so cool. The Co-op advisors helped me prioritize what kind of company and role I wanted to work in, but more importantly, how to stand out from the hundreds of applications with a well-tailored resume and many rounds of mock interviews.
What advice do you have for students seeking their first Co-op job?
In the beginning, I was afraid of getting rejected, but soon you’ll learn that it's inevitable and you should think of your rejections of lessons. Don’t let them devastate your confidence because there are a lot of factors that go into hiring someone and it’s never personal. Spend some time crafting your applications so they are tailored to the company and don’t sound generic. As long as you keep trying and talking to your Co-op advisor, things will get better, but persistence is the key.
What kind of work did you do in your Co-op terms?
I first worked for a telemedicine company called Porton Health. It was a start-up, so I wore many different hats, including digital marketing/social media and UX research creating different content such as blog posts, explainer videos, and technical writing pieces. I also got to work directly with the development team to help improve the web app experience.
In my second and third Co-op terms, I worked at SAP for the Managing Director’s office, running internal events, programs and communications for three offices across Canada. Externally, I supported corporate social responsibility projects such as Autism at Work and the Templeton STEM Program. I even got a selfie with Premiere Horgan when he visited for an announcement. The achievement that means the most to me from my time in Co-op is when I helped to develop the communication materials and visual identity for a global initiative for SAP Labs Canada on a national scale.
Did you have any challenges adapting to work in the tech industry?
Being in the tech industry, it was sometimes hard for me to understand some technical jargon or systems, however, the best way to learn is by going out of your way to research what’s going on in the industry. Try to reach out to developers and ask them to explain things to you. The tech industry is ever-changing, so it’s critical to keep up with the trends and innovations out there.
What do you think you gained from your Co-op terms?
Hands-on skills such as how to manage your professional relationships, writing a well-crafted email and having the confidence to push back on certain things at work. There were a lot of highlights - I think that all of the connections and friends I made because of the Co-op program have shaped my career in general.
Did you do anything else at SFU that specifically contributed to you landing these positions?
I tried to join student clubs and take on different roles to gain experience. I took on the Corporate Relations Coordinator role with the Student Marketing Association and was the VP of Internal Relations for the CMNSU. Also, taking classes like Pub or IAT set me up for success by giving me the hands-on marketing/design experience and different perspectives to offer in my first job.
What do you do in your current position at EA, now that you have graduated?
My team and I manage all of the internal communication for our organization called Development Technology and Services across 26 cities globally and provide communications support for the Project Management Office. I strategize with my team to build an engaging, inclusive, and fun culture where employees are empowered to innovate, understand how their role plays into the greater EA ecosystem, and feel a sense of ownership of their work and EA. We also focus on learning and development to improve organizational performance and manage change initiatives such as organizational restructuring. My favourite part of the position is the creative communications work I do. Whether I am writing a blog post, designing a brand identity, or creating a podcast from scratch, it never gets old!
Do you have any advice for students starting their careers?
Remember that your network is your net worth. I think networking is such a buzz word, but what it means to me is to create genuine relationships with people and pick their brain on the valuable lessons they have learned in their career. These conversations have given me so much guidance on how I can better myself as a professional and inspired me to strive for bigger dreams. If you’re applying for jobs now, I recommend making a personal website and diversifying your skillset, and above all, keep networking!
Beyond the Blog
Connect with Oscar via LinkedIn!