The completion of my second co-op work term with the Certified General Accountants Association of B.C. (CGA-BC) has been very rewarding. As a Business Co-op student, concentrating in Human Resource Management and International Business, the Recruitment & Employment Team at CGA-BC was the ultimate place to complete my first two work terms. CGA-BC is the largest and fastest growing accounting body in the province. The Association is responsible for training and certifying over 15,000 members and students and the Recruitment & Employment department has significantly contributed to this growth over the years. As a member and key component of the small team of six, I assisted the Recruitment & Employment division in the development, planning and coordination of all aspects of student recruitment as well as employment initiatives for CGA-BC.
In my first work term with CGA-BC, I was primarily responsible for the coordination and planning of recruitment related events and initiatives. These events include various information sessions, office hours, career fairs, conferences and networking evenings. My role as the Assistant also consisted of continuously serving as a resource to assist prospective CGA students and promote the benefits of the CGA program. Towards the end of my first work term, my colleagues at CGA-BC gave me the opportunity to formulate and implement a new recruitment event and initiative. I was completely responsible for all of the event details such as venue procurement, vendor relations, the integration of promotion and advertising, and the planning and execution of all on-site event logistics. From this point onwards, my co-op experience with CGA-BC transformed and developed into a myriad of challenges and opportunities of growth.
Throughout my second co-op work term with CGA-BC, I have coordinated over thirty recruitment events; written four blog posts on CGA’s CareerView blog; attended various events alongside colleagues and independently; conducted research and analyzed data for recruitment strategy purposes; and planned and implemented CGA Connect with BCIT, one the Association’s largest recruitment events of the year. Having my managers and colleagues trust in me to take on such responsibilities and tasks has allowed me to gain experience in event planning, recruitment, client relations, research, competitive analysis and strategy development. Through this, I have also established a comprehensive understanding of the formation, presentation and execution of all aspects of recruitment strategy.
This experience has evidently allowed me to acquire and develop many valuable work-related skills and abilities; however, it is the significant career and life lessons which have been the most fundamental and influential during my co-op experience. Prior to becoming employed with CGA-BC, I always struggled with the common work challenge of career advancement. With education standards on the rise, professional designations becoming more prevalent, and the abundance of extra-curricular activities and work or volunteer experience needed, landing your dream job is becoming more challenging in today’s business community. As a young, university student with little relevant work experience, these requirements can seem very overwhelming; however, my co-op with CGA-BC has given me the opportunity to learn how to demonstrate my worth and realize my potential, even in an entry level position.
For example, taking initiative, volunteering to take on work and constantly doing more than necessary are some of the most important skills that I have learned during my work terms. Executing these traits has helped me develop new skills and broaden my experience at a faster rate. Additionally, seeing challenges as opportunities and using them as a tool to demonstrate your skills and capabilities has become my favourite thing to do in the workplace. I have learned and acquired these small tricks during my two work-terms at CGA-BC and they have proven to demonstrate both my reliability and leadership capabilities.
The final lesson that I have learnt over the past eight months at CGA-BC is to consistently keep a record of my work experience and achievements as they occur. Through direct experience and much guidance from my two bosses, Dan and Jas, I realized how essential this small task actually is. During my first work term, I became very busy with learning new skills, managing multiple projects and meeting deadlines. When the time came to submit my first co-op work report, I found it very challenging to remember all of my accomplishments and contributions. Consistently keeping a log of your work experience allows you to have immediate access to this information whenever you need it. Now that my work terms with CGA-BC have come to an end, I will be putting this into action and assembling my notes of my work experience and achievements into results-focused summaries which will be added to my resumes, cover letters and interview preparations.
Overall, participating in the Co-op program at SFU has been one of the most valuable experiences of my undergraduate degree. I would strongly recommend to every SFU student to participate in the Co-op program. Co-op fosters the development of soft and hard skills, and it allows you to apply your knowledge from the classroom to a practical setting. In addition, the ability to make and build relationships with employers and expand your references will give you a competitive advantage over those who do not have co-op experience. By participating in the Co-op program, I have grown both personally and professionally. Having the opportunity to realize my potential and demonstrate my abilities has made me more confident in myself and in my future as a business professional. Even though the business community is becoming increasingly competitive, my co-op experience with CGA-BC has demonstrated that landing your dream job is still possible and it has motivated me to continue to pursue my dreams.