Skip to main content
Arts + Social Sciences › Economics

A headshot of Rifayat against a white background.
"The patience and hard work are definitely worth it to get some work experience before you graduate, especially if you are an international student like me."

This blog was originally posted on the SFU Economics news page on July 6th, 2021. 

A master's student recently graduated from Simon Fraser University (SFU)'s Department of Economics, Rifayat Raisa had always been interested in venturing into the field of health economics.

With the support of the Arts Co-op office, she landed the perfect job to help her break into the industry — as a research and reporting assistant with the Vancouver office of medical information technology company Policy Reporter

As a company specializing in the health insurance market in the United States (US), Raisa's work provided her with an extensive understanding of the complexities of the US health system. Drawing on her economics background, Raisa honed her technical and analytical skills by developing client reports that combined data-driven insights and health policy analyses. 

While Raisa was able to improve her quantitative skills, she found that the soft skills gained from the experience were incredibly valuable in her personal and professional growth. With the support of her manager and team, Raisa developed confidence in her time management, project management, and presentation skills. 

Her eight month co-op work term with Policy Reporter has been a monumentally positive experience for Raisa. One of the most memorable highlights include a client project she handled close to Christmas time. She took the initiative to teach herself some new techniques, creating a uniquely formulated data dashboard that improved on a lot of the team's previous reports. 

"The clients were very impressed by the report when I presented the findings to them, and I was subsequently nominated for Researcher Spotlight of the Month," says Raisa. "It felt like a Christmas miracle! I have been encouraged to use that data dashboard for future projects as well."

When asked on advice for other graduate students interested in pursuing the Co-op program, Raisa says, "Applying for co-ops can at first be quite discouraging, but don’t give up! The patience and hard work are definitely worth it to get some work experience before you graduate, especially if you are an international student like me." 

More Tips and Advice
  • Applying for co-op positions take as much work as any other course since writing cover letters is quite an assignment! The best advice that Brandy, my co-op supervisor, gave me was to not use the same generic cover letter for all of my job applications. Start from scratch every time (if possible, I know it is challenging with assignments and quizzes due!). You will notice your application will improve a little each time. Make sure that your personality and your values are reflected in the cover letter. 

  • Do not be afraid to be yourself in job interviews – it will ease your nervousness as well. An interview is just your employers’ way of getting to know you – and your life and your experiences make each one of you a unique and interesting individual in your own way! 

  • Finally, take all the support you can get from the co-op office; they are here to support you. I lost count of the number of times I have gone to Brandy with new revisions of my resume, asking her for a mock interview, chatting with her to know more about a position that I am applying to, or even going over the available work reports on Canvas. I have attended every workshop – and learned something new with each one!

visibility  185
Dec 1, 2021

You Might Like These... Co-operative Education

Courtney smiles next to a caption that reads, "Courtney Novotny during her work term with Health Canada".
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

How do Communications Co-op jobs differ between federal departments? Read all about Courtney's experiences as she compares her first co-op with Health Canada to her second co-op with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Korea
International Spotlight: Korea

Bordered by China, Russia, and separated from Japan by the Korea Strait, Korea makes for a strong international hub of Asia.

Iris at her workstation in the lab
Student Spotlight: Iris Eom

The OLC talks to Iris Eom, 3rd year MBB, Computing Science joint major. Keep reading to learn about her experience at the UBC James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre at St. Paul's Hospital.

You Might Like These... During the Work Term

The author and colleagues
Welcome Sessions, Onboarding, and the Handling of Snacks

Linh shares her experience working in the HR department of a biotech firm.

hand-drawn paper cut hearts strung across the roof of a house
Working for an Essential Service During a Global Pandemic

"When you work at a non-profit, you will notice one extraordinary and unanimous thing; everyone’s heart is in their work. And during a pandemic, when so many of those we serve are in desperate need, this dedication is clearer than ever." -- Communication Co-op student, Juliette Halliday, highlights working for a non-profit organization as it responds in the face of a pandemic. 

A photo of Lindsey Wu
Don’t Worry About Being a Small Potato

When you’re starting off in a new workplace, it can be daunting talking to people who carry the title of CEO, director, and everything in between. While you may feel like a small potato compared to the big spud, it’s important to remember that everyone has to start somewhere. Lindsay shares her story on why your future self will thank you for building your connections early on through Co-op.