Skip to main content

Mark Trendell-Jensen

SFU Co-op Student
Beedie School of Business

Mark smiling for the camera in a metropolitan area
Being a part of the SFU Co-op program is as much a competitive advantage as the 4.0 GPA, or the time spent in the many clubs at SFU.

I do not have a 4.0 GPA. I’m not the President of BASS or the SFSS, nor have I held any executive positions in any clubs within SFU. I do, however, have 4 semesters of Co-op work experience behind me, and by leveraging these experiences and the connections I made, I have secured a job here in Vancouver well ahead of my graduation this coming June. My Co-ops have given me meaningful skills to bring to future opportunities, granted me access to higher-paying opportunities, and allowed me to develop professionally and personally. My work experience has been my competitive advantage when looking for future opportunities, and it can be yours, too, if you start early and take full advantage of the choices the Co-op program has to offer, and the support it gives in your pursuit of finding meaningful work.

Co-op placements opened me up to the world early in my university career, both here in Vancouver and abroad. By the end of my second year, I was employed with Odlum Brown, a well-known financial institution in downtown Vancouver, as an IT Helpdesk employee. I worked there for two semesters, and it was an excellent starting point for my working experience. I learned a great deal in my time there, including time management, prioritization, and a host of technical skills I used on the job. I met amazing people who were all keen to help me succeed in my position, and I have stayed in touch with a few of them even many years later. This job showed me firsthand what could be in store for me as a full-time business employee after my graduation. The added benefit of the placement was it allowed me to diligently save up for an amazing academic exchange the following spring in Europe. If I didn’t have this job, I could not have had the chance to save up for myself and go on this experience to see a part of the world that I had been fascinated with since I was a child.

My work experiences have sent me to different places, too, with two of my three jobs outside of Vancouver. My second Co-op job was in a managerial role with a sport fishing business in Tofino called WardoWest, where I developed and improved the company operations and experience for a diverse clientele. This job honed my strategic capabilities and forced me to think big, but also focus on those small details which make a difference. My roles were varied and exciting, and I dealt with a range of impressive guests, business people, and employees to make sure the operation ran smoothly.

a Blue Jays game

My final Co-op role was in Guelph with the Royal Bank of Canada where I once again had the opportunity to expand my horizons and meet new and interesting people. The job showed me the scale of the largest bank in Canada, and the wide variety of people you can meet and opportunities you can pursue if you are employed with them. Both experiences taught me greater independence, self-monitoring, and how to live as an adult out on my own. If you have an opportunity to pursue an international Co-op placement, I strongly recommend that you do. The Co-op office has all the connections and know-how you need to successfully apply and accept a job outside of Canada. With our globalized world, it is more important than ever that you understand how it interacts with itself, the different dominant cultures, and the ways of doing business that you will run into in your future.

Regarding dollars and cents, my Co-op experiences have dramatically scaled my income with each new placement and have provided much more value than their cost. Even though you pay tuition for each Co-op term you work, it is a small price to pay for the premium you receive by having access to higher-value positions through the school. Your pay scales up fast, too. The change in my income from my first Co-op to my second, and my second to my third, have been 21.3% and 25% respectively. These are not small jumps, they are tangible and noticeable changes that you can literally bring to the bank. And now, with the experience I have from these jobs, I can secure a higher salary after graduation as well. I cannot say the same if I did not have my Co-op portfolio under my belt to leverage. You can, depending on which job or field you are in, earn more in your Co-op placements on an hourly basis than some full-time entry-level business positions. That is the difference Co-op can make for a student in the business school.

The connections, however, are more valuable than the wages you will be earning in your short times with the companies you work for. If you can build high-quality relationships with those that you work for, it will open more doors than you can imagine. My relationships through Co-op gave me options on which opportunities to pursue, and have now secured me a full-time, well-paying job following my graduation. Instead of chasing employers and jobs, I was chased;  as a student, that’s a good feeling to have.

Being a part of the SFU Co-op program is as much a competitive advantage as the 4.0 GPA, or the time spent in the many clubs at SFU. If you work hard, work diligently, and start early, it will define your university experience and bridge the gap between your academic life and your career.

Beyond the Blog

About the Author

Mark Trendell-Jensen

SFU Co-op Student
Beedie School of Business
Connect with Mark on LinkedIn.

Mark is a BBA candidate pursuing a double concentration in Management of Information System and Operations Management, and a certificate in Business Analytics and Decision Making. Mark enjoys mentorship and building up people as well as businesses. He has developed a passion for strategy, technology, and operations through his co-op experiences and academic career. Aside from four Co-op terms, Mark’s undergraduate experiences in Beedie include membership on four external case competition teams, with three being on the international stage, and involvement in developing future case competitors through volunteering in the Beedie Case Program. Mark has also held the position as the RBC Student Campus Ambassador for the last academic year, helping students in their pursuit of valuable Co-op experiences at RBC.
Photo of the author giving a presentation
Creating Value: The Adventures of an IT Co-op Student

As someone who didn’t have a lot of direct experience in a technological setting, providing value to the organization had to come from something much bigger than my direct skill set.

A photo of the author
The 201st Application

It’s been two months and 20 days since my first day of my Co-op term at Westcoast Family Centres, but I still find myself waking up every other day in utter disbelief that things worked out!

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

Fort Langley Landscape
A Survival Guide to Living in the 1800s

Surviving in a trading fort in the wild west now known as British Columbia was tough in the 1800s. A time when 9 out of 10 of your meals would have been salmon and potatoes and grocery shopping would mean bringing a musket into the woods. Alexis, shares what she learned about surviving the 1800s. 

A photo of a road sign
Transition to the “Real World”. Scared?

For some of you, the thought of making the transition from academia to the world of full-time work may be quite daunting. Luckily, SFU's Backpack to Briefcase event can help.

I’ve Got Options?

As a co-op student, it's not a bad idea to explore your options by going to other interviews if you can, even when you have a job offer already. Check out Natalie's experience going for her fourth interview and a potential second job offer!