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Leslie Hoang

SFU Co-op Student
Beedie School of Business › Marketing

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A nervous woman
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JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Like many other seeking Business students, I struggled to find a co-op job that was relevant to my interests. I saw how so many of my friends around me were able to land co-op jobs, and this made me even more anxious and insecure about my abilities. With a help of a friend’s advice and personal reflection, I realize there were more potential opportunities out there if I opened my mind to other fields and industries. 

A Rough Start

I began to seek for co-op jobs in the Spring 2020 term and was lucky to land one job interview shortly after. However, that was the only interview I obtained for the term. Despite my effort of applying for jobs through several resources, none of the jobs I applied contact me for interviews and this made me question my abilities and skills. Soon enough, COVID hit and I gave up seeking for co-op when the job postings have been reduced and many companies canceled their applications. As an international student, it is even more difficult when only PR and Canadian citizens can apply for some of the jobs. The job market became way harder to get in, not to mention more competitive pool of candidates of fresh grads. I felt frustrated with the situation and had lost my hope in landing an interview.

By the time the Summer 2020 semester came along, I did not end up applying for any jobs. It was only until late August when I re-started my seeking journey. I had narrowed my job search limits to only applying for positions relevant to my concentration, Management Information Systems. Any job title with Business Analyst Intern would catch my eyes, but there weren’t many of them. I remembered applied for at least 20 jobs in 2 weeks alone, but I hadn’t received any responses or calls. 

People commonly say that getting your first co-op job is always the hardest one, and that after that, your ability is what counts. Despite all the saying people have, I believe I have the ability and experience so I would be able land a position soon, that’s my initial thought. But after a while, I realize that was such a naïve thought and the struggle of getting first co-op job is real.  I started to feel panic and desperate, which made me to start shooting my shots in the dark when applying for jobs that are not my major or within other departments.

Friendly Inspiration and Realizations

With a frustrated mind, I reached out to a close friend of mine to hang out for a change. She recently landed a co-op position with UBC, shared that it is very possible to apply for jobs that are outside of the concentration. In fact, she knew many people who have done the same. With her advice, it suddenly made me realize that maybe I should change my way of thinking. 

I came to realize that business is a very broad major and that the Beedie School of Business has prepared students with all the introductory subjects from Accounting, Human Resources to Finance and International Studies. With the knowledge you learn from these courses, it gives you a well-prepared introduction knowledge to work as a co-op student. In addition, broader experiences are always valuable, as you never know what job you will end up in the future.

As an enthusiastic business student, I opened myself to different opportunities and did not limit myself to specific pathways in Management Information Systems. I knew there are countless circumstances of people who end up having jobs that are not related to what they study at university. There are also people that don’t like the job who are in jobs directly related to their degree. These people sometimes end up pursuing something else down the road. It is very unpredictable to certain about what you are doing for the rest of your life. Being open and willing to take on opportunities is the best attitude and mindset young people should have in this changing world.

After the conversation with my friend, the next day, I received an interview from Jie Liang – the president of AltumView Systems Inc – a start-up tech company for a marketing intern position. I applied for the position through myExperience with my resume and transcript with no hope of they would get back to me.

Doing My Due Diligence and Preparing Properly

Now, how did I end up obtaining this interview? Prior to the interview, I have searched the company, watched over their video, looked up their social media accounts and prepared my suggestions for them. Right off the interview, I was asked to show what I thought of their current video and social media platforms. They also continue to question whether I have any suggestions for the product and the company, which I was prepared with rough ideas. With the knowledge I learnt from introduction of marketing, I talked about the audience and the market. And soon only two hours after the interview, I got the job offer that I did not see it coming.

Preparing for Challenges but Embracing the New Experience

Right off the bat, I was told that I would take on a “leadership” role in the marketing side of the product as the company doesn’t have marketing department or any experience with marketing before. As a new intern, I found it rather stressful and was scared. 

What if I messed it up?

The management had high expectations for me and I know it was going to be a great challenge. It took me hours to do research about digital marketing, how to manage social media accounts efficiently for a start-up, building brand presence, SEO, etc and understand what exactly I had to do when new tasks were assigned. It has been a long process of teaching myself about using design tools such as Canva, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and video edition tools such as iMovie and Adobe Premier, while worrying about uncertainty of whether the design I came up would be sufficient to be used. I couldn’t learn from anyone as I was the only one in marketing for the company and I report directly to the president and co-founders. 

I have a great opportunity to grow and challenge myself with a more diverse skill set, from designing to content development, communication, time management and team-work. Asking for help is always encouraged and I realized that it is fine if you do not know how to do certain things, or even if you are doing it wrong. The colleagues and managers around me were very willing to share and help me grow. Specifically, being open for suggestions and learning from my mistakes are the lessons that helped me grow the most. 

With the company specifically, it needs to get more attention from individual customers and increase its branding presence in the community as well as preparing for pre-orders. This job has given me valuable opportunities to get hands-on experience of real-world business problems.

I would not have been able to go through this transformative experience if I hadn’t been able to change my way of thinking to a more open and diverse for opportunities, along with determination and the willingness to learn.

About the Author

Leslie Hoang

SFU Co-op Student
Beedie School of Business › Marketing
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