Skip to main content
Beedie School of Business › Accounting
SFU Co-op Student

Image of Author. She is standing in front of a black grilled fence while smiling at the camera and wearing a white shirt and black coat.

I began my co-op term at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on a cloudy Tuesday. Having arrived at the office with fifteen minutes to spare, I waited in the lobby with the other new co-op students. Periodically, people with clipboards would appear and call out the names of students that they would then lead into the building. I waited in anticipation to hear my name but it never came.

Questions raced through my mind as I stood in the rapidly emptying lobby. Should I try waiting at the other side of the building? What if my supervisor arrived when I went to check the other entrance? What if I mistakenly reported to the Surrey building when I was meant to work at the Vancouver office? What if there was a miscommunication and I received my job offer in error?

Before I could be completely consumed by panic, I spotted my supervisor walking down the hallway ten minutes past our planned meeting time. The relief I felt was overwhelming. It turned out that I had mixed up the East and West entrances in the enormous building and had waited for my Team Leader at the wrong door!

Despite the bumpy introduction to my new position as a Staffing Assistant, the rest of my time at the Agency was smooth sailing. I began my job with very little knowledge of hiring practices, but over the course of an eight-month term, the Staffing Administrative Support Team provided me with an invaluable amount of on-the-job experience.

My team and I often joked that we were “Job Fairies” as we made the hiring magic happen by overseeing and supporting candidates from the moment they submited an application to the moment they accepted a job offer. My team was very supportive and never shied away from letting me try out different aspects of the job. I learned how to screen applications, administer CRA-standardized assessments, conduct phone interviews, verify reference checks and communicate job opportunities to candidates. I also learned how to use two different staffing systems to electronically manage candidates through different stages of the hiring process. The variety of tasks I learned kept me mentally engaged while the volume of work I accomplished ensured I had the opportunity to hone my written and verbal communication skills.

As a side project, I also coordinated with the Assistant Director of Staffing to measure the effectiveness of a regional hiring pilot project. In this role, I gathered and analyzed weekly statistics including candidates’ application statuses, exam result trends, and the number of new applicants hired each week. Later, I transformed these numbers into a creative infographic that could communicate this information at-a-glance to Senior Management. This greatly improved my analytical capabilities and increased my comfort with manipulating large quantities of data.

By far, the most memorable moment of my co-op term was participating in an internal Career Expo as a Staffing Team representative. I attended seminars at two CRA offices to educate employees on new hiring processes and discuss upcoming changes in the Agency’s organizational structure. The events were great opportunities to network with others and practice my public-speaking skills. I also loved being able to speak with some of the employees that I had hired to hear how much they were enjoying their jobs! For my voluntary contribution as a team representative, I received a Service Award which is a milestone that I am very proud of.

The factor that had the greatest impact on my work-term experience was the opportunity to work with a team that functioned like a close-knit community. While our six-member team was considered small, relative to other teams in the office, we had a very positive and friendly dynamic. Everyone was open and encouraged my questions and suggestions. Decisions were made after considering everyone’s input and I enjoyed bonding over office jokes and team lunches. Reflecting back, getting to know my teammates on a personal level was one of the main reasons why I enjoyed my job so much. Not only did this facilitate a work environment that I looked forward to joining every morning, but it also made us more efficient as we could better understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and delegate work accordingly.

While I had countless good days at the CRA, there were times when I found myself in demanding situations. Managing competing hiring deadlines, having emotionally challenging conversations with candidates, and dealing with rapidly changing workflow priorities sometimes made me feel like I couldn’t keep up. But a former mentor once told me that challenges are a necessary part of the learning experience! Instead of getting discouraged, I viewed these moments as a chance to develop my skills and overcome my weaknesses. I became very organized and learned to be flexible with my tasks. I worked on communicating with my teammates to update them on my progress and learned how to be assertive but professional. I focused on maintaining a can-do attitude and over time I adapted to the pace of my work and became more confident in my duties.

Now, as I prepare to walk out the doors that I mistakenly stood at eight-months ago, I am filled with a sense of gratitude and accomplishment. I feel very lucky to have worked with people who never wavered in their support and guidance of me. The experience I gained will be invaluable to my future career and my co-op term with the Staffing Team confirmed that this is an area of business that I would like to pursue. I will miss my time at the Canada Revenue Agency but I look forward to the future opportunities that await!

SFU Co-op Student
visibility  191
May 17, 2017

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...

picture of glichelle pondering a though
Surviving Workplace Politics

Ever been peeved with workplace politics? Have you ever been a victim of office politics? One student shares her experiences from the workplace with tips on how to survive.


person with their head in a book
Responsibility and Success

One of the most memorable parts of my time in co-op was the collection of accidents, errors, mistakes, and mix-ups that happened in the course of working in the laboratory.


You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

ian and coworkers in scrubs
Ian's International Co-op in Mexico: Babies, Mothers, and Hearts

When Ian first came to SFU, Ian was a student in the Biological Sciences program. After their first year, they realized that they didn't just want to study living organisms, they wanted to learn about the human body. So at the end of their first year, they found themselves transfering to the Biomedical Physiology program.

Hand holding a cup of latte while pouring cream in to create a leaf like design
The Importance Of Coffee Breaks: Friends, Coffee, Fun. All While Working In An Enterprise.

Coffee breaks provide an opportunity to take your eye away from the screen, gather your thoughts, and the chance to network with colleagues. For a project to be successful, it is vital to be able to work well with others while managing your own workload. Terry explains how coffee breaks can help you build relationships and bonds with colleagues!


Fuji mountain on Unsplash
Ritik's Japanese Co-op Adventure
Ritik had a pretty amazing time in Japan while on his International Co-op term with BOSCH. The projects he worked on may have been classifed, but the fun he had sure wasn't, and he's here to share it with you.