Audrey was not looking for an Indigenous-focused placement. She states, "I was just looking for a general Communications job... I was in one of the ISC programs just chatting with everyone and hanging out. I mentioned that I was searching for [a] co-op [position]." This was overheard by… the associate director of the Indigenous Student Centre, who said, 'oh really, you're searching for co-op? Would this be something you're interested in?' After we had that conversation, she actually went and posted the job."
Casey asked if working in an Indigenous-focused job was important. Audrey replied, "When I originally applied for co-op, I actually got started in co-op a few years ago, but I put off actually starting my first co-op term, and that wasn't really what I had in mind at first.... [Since] I was already a part of the Indigenous Student Centre community before I started working there, I had a really smooth transition because I knew the team, I knew the programs, and I didn't really have to relearn everything for my job. So I'm really glad I chose to do this, but I think in the future when I do other co-ops, I will do one that may not be Indigenous-focused just to see what else is out there because o-op is a chance to try different things and see what you like."
Audrey added, "I haven't had what most people would consider a 'real job'..... Just working with a team, like in the past, it was with student groups with limited capacity. And working with the ISC, I'm working with staff... just having that good communication with the team ... we have a greater capacity." She contrasted her placement with her student volunteer work, where she as a volunteer worked after hours or on the weekends.
Audrey enthusiastically stated, "Honestly, the job I'm doing now at the ISC, I don't want to leave… I'm really enjoying what I'm doing…. I like being creative. I like creating graphics, helping promote the events since, as a student, I would also attend the events, and now as staff, I'll help facilitate the events."
Audrey shared, "When I first started university, I didn't know what I wanted to do, so I'm using co-op as a way to try something new. So I'm starting at the ISC because it's a safe place to start off since I know everyone, and the team is great. I'm actually staying on for the Fall semester as well, so I'm doing two semesters at the ISC. But after that, I want to try something different, do something not necessarily SFU-related. Put myself out there."
To help students be better prepared to go out in the work field, the co-op program has students participate in workshops and meetings with coordinators to help them show their best selves to employers. Sharing her experience, Audrey said, “I was doing it when it was still in person, so we would go in, and we would go through our resume, which was really helpful. Figuring out what type of wording you should be using, what the layout should look like, making it more professional. With other students, giving each other feedback was really helpful but also having the co-op coordinators there as well. And other things like interview training, what you wear, what you say… some pointers.”
I asked Audrey what her favourite memory from co-op was, to which she replied, "... I'd say the workshops we put on it was just a great chance to connect. Like last week we did a beading workshop, and technically I was there as a student and not as a staff member, so I
don't know if that counts but just being there with the team and learning about the culture. Just in general, we have a morning meeting where we just check-in, and we start off with like how are you feeling today? So we're not just getting into work right away. We're getting to know each other and hanging out a bit."
And most importantly, when asked if she would recommend co-op to other Indigenous students, she stated, "Yes! not just to Indigenous students but to all students. I think Co-op is such a great experience you're able to put the things you learn in the classroom to work. I know personally as a Communications student, I haven't yet gotten into any of the social media classes. And I haven't really learned any of this hands-on workshop. So more of it I've been teaching and learning myself outside of school, so I think it's really great to find where you can apply what you've learned and how to apply it."
Audrey is currently having a blast at her Co-op placement with the SFU ISC. She feels that co-op has helped shape her career aspirations, and goals and the "real-work" experience has helped her feel less anxious about post-graduation. She highly recommends co-op to every single SFU student!