Skip to main content
headshot of Michael

Michael Sandrin

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Interactive Arts + Technology › Interactive Systems

michael sitting next to the computer
I feel I have learned much more about myself while having had a chance to see what I am really good at, what I enjoy, and what I struggle with.

Who Am I?

Despite having chosen an initial path within the SIAT program, I had arrived at a crossroads in regards to what I want to do with my life and my career. I wanted to explore my options further. I felt I needed a real-world opportunity to help me better focus my education, and to determine what I really want to do with my life beyond university. At this stage in my development, I needed guidance. This is where SFU’s Co-op program comes in.

My Path to Co-op

Prior to joining the co-op program, I had a rough concept of what having a job and going to work was all about. This was mainly due to a lack of significant work experience. However, I knew that I needed to experience working in a professional, technical environment to better help me evaluate and decide my future.

While I had initially spoken to my SIAT Co-op advisor, I also decided to reach out to SFU's First Nations Office for co-op assistance, based on my family’s Métis Cree heritage. With support from both advisors, I acquired a co-op position working as a Service Desk Analyst for the Innovation and Information Management Services department of BC’s own First Nations Health Authority.

The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and the IIMS Department

Borrowing their words, the FNHA is a British Columbia-based organization whose vision is “to
transform the health and well-being of BC's First Nations and Aboriginal people by dramatically changing healthcare for the better” (First Nations Health Authority, 2016, “About Us”, para 1). FNHA works alongside the Province of BC and First Nations “to address service gaps through new partnerships, closer collaboration, and health systems innovation” (First Nations Health Authority, 2016, “About Us”, para 3).​

FNHA's Innovation and Information Management Services (IIMS) department, of which I was a part, specializes in providing the Authority's departments and employees with technical advice and tools for productivity – from initializing hardware, such as laptops, to software installations. With services spanning from providing nurse support for disease and injury control, to supplying remote First Nations bands with network-based access to doctors through eHealth services, the IIMS department is crucial in ensuring the Authority’s continued success in its vision.

First Steps

Coming into the FNHA with no significant prior work experience under my belt, I wanted to use this co-op work term to discover my strengths and determine what I want to do in the future. I made sure to declare this personal mission to the department manager during my interview for the position. Initially, I was nervous about asking my managers and teammates for help in achieving this objective thinking they would be worried I might not be able to pull my weight in the department and within the FNHA. As it turned out, my fears were for naught, as I received consistent encouragement to explore the field of services offered through the IT department. Throughout my co-op with FNHA, I was encouraged to ask questions, invited to shadow my co-workers, and even asked to make suggestions on how to improve certain processes. I was honestly amazed by how willing my manager and my teammates were to work with my strengths and to help me to learn more about myself. I was given opportunities to see and explore some of the many sides to the complex world of IT and to test my abilities by solving problems in each area.

Gaining a Stride

As the co-op term went on, I continued to learn from my co-workers and gradually saw myself
becoming more proficient in the areas I had little prior experience in. I learned the processes of imaging laptops and desktops, how to set up workstations for new employees, made updates to old technology infrastructures, and created documentation based on my own processes to help future IT employees succeed. I enjoyed my job so much that I requested to stay on for a second co-op semester. Lucky for me, the FNHA was happy to have me back! This not only meant that I had more time to spend learning in this professional environment, but also that I could build up a greater rapport with my co-workers. It’s a nice feeling to be recognized around the various offices of the FNHA as someone who could provide solutions to people’s technological problems. To me, the FNHA, as a whole, excels at making its employees truly feel a part of the organization as well as integral to achieving its goals.

Forward Momentum: Crossing the Finish Line

The FNHA provided me with an invaluable step forward in my development as a person, for which I am sincerely thankful. I feel I have learned much more about myself while having had a chance to see what I am really good at, what I enjoy, and what I struggle with. This work term also helped boost my confidence about where I should go next, which was exactly what I had hoped for.

From my first day at this wonderful organization to my last, I always felt welcomed, encouraged, and appreciated by my fellow FNHA family members. Even though I will be leaving the Authority to continue my studies at SFU, I will hold on to the relationships I’ve made during my time here. I know I still have a great number of things to learn, however, it is thanks to the First Nations Health Authority that I am now able to say I have some meaningful, relevant, and successful professional work experience to offer my next employers.

About the Author

headshot of Michael

Michael Sandrin

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Interactive Arts + Technology › Interactive Systems
Connect with Michael on LinkedIn and take a look at his design work on his portfolio website

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.


michael sitting next to the computer
The Marathon of the Service Desk: A First Nations Health Authority Co-op Experience
Co-op Reflections, Indigenous Co-op, Workplace Success, Professional Development, Personal Development

Do you enjoy working with computers? Do you find the idea of solving puzzles to be exhilarating? Do you want to help people get introduced to the world of computers? If so, perhaps a Service Desk Analyst will be a perfect fit for you. Follow SIAT student, Michael Sandrin, in his first occupational adventure: working as a Service Desk Analyst for the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA).

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

Picture of Emily Lam smiling
Just Trying It, Strength, and Balance: The Biggest Lessons From My 1st Co-op Term

Your first Co-op work term comes with a lot of valuable lessons and take-aways that stick with you throughout your professional career. For Emily, these lessons include just doing it, finding your strengths and striking a work-life balance. Read on to learn more.

Kamil on the phone, looking at the camera
Survival Guide 101: Keys to Office Survival

Welcome to Office Life 101. A wealth of friendly advice for the first time or inexperienced co-op student, and some advice as to what is required of you to not only survive, but to flourish in an office environment.

Image of Author. Se is smiling at the camera and is wearing black shirt and black coat. The title of the blog is printed on the left of her image.
7 Ways Internships are Like All You Can Eat Buffets

Working in many different Co-op positions can be analogous with sampling everything at an all you can eat buffet. You see some things that really catch your eye, and some things you know you absolutely won’t like. But the fact of the matter is, you probably won’t know exactly what every single dish will taste like until you opt in to trying it. With Co-op, it’s much the same – you probably have an idea of what you want to do, but trying something entirely new might surprise you and pique your interest for future career options.