Skip to main content

Janelle Santos

SFU Co-op Student
Science › Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

empty
A group of people networking
Credit
Akson on Unsplash
I had the pleasure of developing my skillset and networking with some great individuals... You can get to know more about other positions in the field and perhaps ask them what steps they took academically or in their career that allowed them to get that position.

Getting accustomed to a new workplace with new people can be daunting. MBB student Janelle shares her experience working for the fast-paced industrial lab, Maxxam.  This is part two of a two part series.  

I spent eight months as a co-op student at Maxxam, a lab where I worked as a Lab Technician Assistant.  In this position, I had the pleasure of developing my skillset and networking with some great individuals.  In general, I try to approach networking as striking up casual conversation and showing interest in the work that other people do. Networking will get you references and inside knowledge about the industry. Also, Maxxam was full of interesting people and I was genuinely curious about their stories. It is almost a given that you will walk away from the job with people from your department as your references, but it is also useful to become acquainted with people outside of your department.  You can get to know more about other positions in the field and perhaps ask them what steps they took academically or in their career that allowed them to get that position. Maxxam had several opportunities to do just that:

Social Committee

One of the best things about Maxxam is they appreciated their employees and they showed this by frequently organizing barbeques, free lunches, and free ice cream. The social committee is in charge of putting together these events and is comprised of people from many different departments, labs and the front offices. It is a great place to meet new people and something to look forward to at work.

Other Co-op Students

There were about two dozen co-op students employed during my time at Maxxam. They come from several different majors from SFU and UBC. The majority of us banded together to have lunches and after-work socials to share our experiences. Even now, I am in touch with a former fellow co-op student who has since graduated and shares their current experience with trying to find work in the industry.

QA Training

Quality Assurance was keen on recruiting people from many different departments. As part of your QA training, you are given the opportunity to shadow another lab technician to see if the Standard Operating Procedure guidelines are followed. It is a great way to meet people from different departments and ask questions about their work.

Charity Fundraiser

Every December, departments are pitted against each other to see who can raise the most money for a charity. Naturally, co-op students of each department are put in charge of organizing the events or fundraising activities. Signing people up for these events involved going around to every nook and cranny of the lab. I discovered departments I did not know existed and met more people in the span of two weeks than I did in the past eight months.

Co-op Project

One of the co-op projects that I did was interviewing my co-workers and a lab technician from a separate department. It is possible to also interview your supervisor, manager or even the company president if you ask. They can give a lot of tips and insight into the industry and all of them were more than willing to share their experience and knowledge with the co-op students.

In all, I am very glad I did my first co-op experience at Maxxam. They knew how to handle co-op students, which made it easy to settle into the workplace. The job itself was fairly simple but it allowed me to gain my first lab experience, have a taste of what working in a fast-paced industrial lab was like, and obtain references in the industry. My most important take away from working at Maxxam was meeting many amazing people who are now my friends and contacts. 

About the Author

Janelle Santos

SFU Co-op Student
Science › Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Jien Hilario photo
What’s in a Name? Coming to Terms With Labelling Myself as a Person With a Disability

If you were to see Jien on campus, you wouldn’t know that she had a disability. She does not use a wheelchair nor does she have a seeing eye dog. She has an invisible disability. In this article, Jien shares her journey on how she came to terms with labeling herself as a person with a disability. 

Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere
Why Doesn’t Canada Have a Disabilities Act?

It is 2018 and Canada has not yet implemented adequate protection and legislation for people with disabilities. When it comes to equality for all, Canada is falling far behind. In this article, Jien discusses the research and reality of why Canada needs a Disabilities Act.

We Can Do It!
How to Satisfy Your Inner Activist

When people think about social justice, they think of things like protests or hunger strikes, but the options don’t end there. These volunteer organizations can help you satisfy your inner activist.

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... Graduate Students

A photo of the author
For a Chance at a Job, Take a Chance and Apply!

I completed my undergraduate degree without doing co-op. This meant that after graduation, I was competing for jobs with others who had work experience, while I had none. Find out how doing co-op as a PhD student allowed me to not only gain work experience, but also gave me confidence in my abilities.  

Kali surrounded by women
Getting Comfortable in Kolkata

In the third entry of her series, Kali is getting comfortable with the daily routines of living and working in Kolkata, India. Through her research into adolescent health, she developed and delivered workshops for young women on nutrition and exercise.

Jeffery sightseeing
My Co-op Experience as an Introvert

Have a difficult time talking to people in the workplace? Are you worried about your upcoming Co-op experience? Jeffrey has some tips for you that will help you find success at your workplace!