Skip to main content
Arts + Social Sciences › Criminology
SFU Co-op Student

Lesley Richards
Open communication is a necessity due to the nature of living with youth who have identified behavioural challenges.

This article was originally published in the Arts Co-op Connect in Fall 2013.

Prior to returning to school to complete my degree in Criminology, I was making a living as a dog trainer. Studying animals and their behaviour, as well as guiding fearful and anxious dogs to a path of confidence is a fascinating and rewarding experience. When I saw the job posting from Capstone Youth and Family Services for a respite worker with at risk youth, I was drawn to it and felt that it could be a great fit given my background with animal training. While many cringe to have dog training compared to child rearing, it was the fundamental abilities required in each of these processes. that drew me to Capstone’s job posting, and them to me as an employee.

Capstone fosters at-risk youth in a home environment, offering the knowledge and guidance necessary to either reunite that youth with their family, or provide them with the skills they need to live independently. Patience, understanding, and an ability to remain calm in tense situations are all characteristics that serve as major assets when working with both animals and youth.

My role with Capstone is to support the foster parents in their overall goals with the youths during the 24-hour shifts in which I work, as well as maintain a structure as similar as possible to their typical routine. The kids attend school, do chores, engage in extracurricular activities, and spend time with the other residents of the home as a family. Activities are planned to keep them physically active, such as playing soccer or hiking; activities which emphasize learning or engaging them in these processes. It was no surprise to me that the greater complexity of the human brain would test me in ways that dogs could not; I too have learned a great deal during my first work term with this organization. One of the most valuable skills I am developing is the ability to confront and resolve conflict in an assertive manner. Open communication is a necessity due to the nature of living with youth who have identified behavioural challenges. When a conflict arises it is discussed and explored so that the youth can understand why they responded the way they did, and can learn how to react more productively in future situations. In addition to providing me with life skills, this experience is particularly relevant to my interest in a career in conflict resolution

Combined with having the opportunity to play a role in the positive development of young people, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to apply my studies to a work context with such a respectable organization.

    Beyond the Blog

    SFU Co-op Student
    Lesley is a Criminology student at SFU
    visibility  110
    Jan 13, 2013

    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

    Two people mountain climbing
    Who Knew Co-op Would Confirm My Career Choice and More!

    As a fourth year Biomedical Physiology student, Amy wished to pursue a career in family practice medicine. In this article, She shares how her co-op at CHANGEpain Clinic confirmed her career path, but also went well beyond that. 

    Toronto skyline with the CN Tower
    New Job, New City, New Adventure

    Considering a co-op outside of BC? Jenny shares 4 tips on moving to a new city based on her experience relocating to Ontario’s capital city, the 6ix.

    a red taxi in the streets of Hong Kong

    Ever wondered what it would be like to work in Hong Kong? Yat Li shares with us in this 3-part series on his experience adapting to a new culture, living arrangement and workplace culture. Also hear about his food and city adventures exploring one of the world's most densely populated areas.