Skip to main content

Sharon Huang

SFU Co-op Student
Beedie School of Business › Marketing

Sharon Huang's portrait
Ultimately, do your research and do what feels right for YOU!

After I received several different job offers from both large and small companies, I deliberated carefully and made the decision to go with the twenty people start-up company with less pay and fewer benefits.

“Why on earth would you do that?” you may ask.

Of course, the decision really comes down to what YOU want to get out of the co-op term. These two questions below may help you figure out if a small company or a start-up is the right choice for you.

Q1: Do you want to take on more responsibilities?

If you are not sure what you exactly like to do and want to dip your toes in different tasks to figure it out, a smaller company is your best bet. Your role at a bigger company will likely be more specialized and structured. On the other hand, you might need to step in and take on many different roles at a start-up.

Due to the nature of a smaller team, your unique point of view and skill set is highly valued. At the same time, your tasks will vary based on the organization’s current challenges. For instance, I designed the company’s first real product sheet, created social media guidelines and branding guidelines, designed web pages with HTML and CSS despite having no coding experience, tried out new social media strategies, etc. With all these various responsibilities, I was able to gain a broader marketing skill set - which in turn really helped me figure out what I wish to pursue in my future career path.

Q2: Do you like solving problems and experimenting?

Large corporations are stable, structured, and resourceful. When problems occur, you will have access to training manuals and/or support from colleagues that are specialized in that specific field. In a smaller company, you might actually be the one identifying those problems for the first time and solving them. Think of it this way: you could be the one creating those training manuals.

Working at BasicGov gave me a unique opportunity to build the foundation of integrated marketing and communication guidelines and templates for not only the marketing department but for the whole company. For instance, I created re-branded document templates, such as the letterhead and PowerPoint template, that are used across the company and are shared with external partners and customers. I also created the company’s first official branding guideline, which outlined appropriate logo usage, colour palette, and font styles. As it was my first co-op position, it was very rewarding to feel that my work had an impact on everyone at the office and helped enhance the company’s external image. As a marketing student, I have never done any professional graphic design or website project. I am thankful for an opportunity to learn and grow as I identify problems along the way.

a project on a website that she's working on

Q3: Do you prefer flexibility and freedom over stability?

The best part about working at a start-up is the more flexible environment compared to large corporations. Whether it be flex hours, working from home privileges, kitchen snacks, office parties, dog-friendly spaces in the office, or Friday afternoon board games. Of course, there are many benefits of working at large corporations as well - employee benefits, stability, compensation, growth, etc. But the hours might be more rigid and you usually have less autonomy.

My co-op position offered me lots of autonomy and flexibility that allowed me to learn how to manage myself. I was given the privilege to work from home once a week - that meant setting my own deadlines, managing remote meetings effectively, browsing the internet for answers, and asking for help when I need it. The most valuable lesson I learned from this experience was the ability to work independently under minimal supervision, as long as I have clear objectives and understand what is expected of me.

In closing, I want to note that I am not lumping every large or small corporation into one. I understand that every company has different cultures and expectations. Ultimately, do your research and do what feels right for YOU! As for me, I made the right decision for myself by paving my marketing career with an awesome small company that encouraged me to become more confident in my skills and abilities. I very much looking forward to translating this valuable experience into my future career in marketing.

Beyond the Blog

About the Author

Sharon Huang

SFU Co-op Student
Beedie School of Business › Marketing
Connect with Sharon on LinkedIn
Jien Hilario photo
What’s in a Name? Coming to Terms With Labelling Myself as a Person With a Disability

If you were to see Jien on campus, you wouldn’t know that she had a disability. She does not use a wheelchair nor does she have a seeing eye dog. She has an invisible disability. In this article, Jien shares her journey on how she came to terms with labeling herself as a person with a disability. 

Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere
Why Doesn’t Canada Have a Disabilities Act?

It is 2018 and Canada has not yet implemented adequate protection and legislation for people with disabilities. When it comes to equality for all, Canada is falling far behind. In this article, Jien discusses the research and reality of why Canada needs a Disabilities Act.

We Can Do It!
How to Satisfy Your Inner Activist

When people think about social justice, they think of things like protests or hunger strikes, but the options don’t end there. These volunteer organizations can help you satisfy your inner activist.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Career Exploration, Seeking, Work Term Extension

author, courtney, smiling
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

Having completed my first work term for Health Canada as a Communications Officer Intern, I was eager to try something new, and the government was not where I believed that was going to happen. That is until I was offered a position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

tower in ottawa
Increasing Your Chances of Working for the Government

With the stability and the opportunities that a government position provides, it’s not surprising that a lot of students are interested with working for the government. The What Can I Do in Government session gave students an opportunity to network with a panel consisting of alumni, current students and managers who are experienced in working for the public sector. Read on for some insights and tips that the panelists provided!

a portrait image of a woman smiling and looking into a distance
Self Discovery

In the changing labour market there are increased opportunities for seeking your own Co-op placement through a Self-Directed Work Search. In this 3 steps blog series by our career advisor Heather Williams, learn about how to successfully conduct self-directed work search from self-discovering to landing an informational interview.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

Canucks team photo
Giving Back

The Vancouver Canucks are well known for their community involvement, and every semester they hire two interns to work with the community relations team. Michelle Muravi was one of these lucky picks last season and she shared with us what it’s like to work behind the scenes in the latest instalment of the We Are All Canucks series.

fist bumps between 5 hands
Five Resources to Access When Seeking Your Co-op Job

Searching for and adapting to your first co-op work term can be tough and quite unexpected. Jordan reveals five tested practices for boosting your resume and building confidence. 

couple holding hands and women holding coffee in other hand
How Dating is like Interviewing and How to Conquer Both

Interviews can be a stressful event, full of anxiety and confusion. Much like the dating world, interviews are a first meeting where you are desperately hoping the other person will like you and vice versa. Here are some things to keep in mind for either situation.