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Samantha De Leon

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

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Through working for a health authority, especially in the middle of a pandemic, I began to understand the important role that communicators play.

“Communication? What do you do in Communication?”

I won’t lie. I hate this question.

And it’s not because I dislike my courses or the work that I do. Or because of the skeptical look I sometimes get when I tell someone I chose to major in Communication – because “do you really need to learn how to talk to people?

It’s because I have a hard time coming up with a straightforward, concise answer to it - which is especially hard to admit for someone who is working towards a degree in Communication.

Yes, we learn how to communicate. No, that’s not just what we learn how to do.

This question has tormented me since I made the decision to switch my major. Every time it came up, I always left the conversation feeling like I'd either under-explained or over-explained my answer. A lot of the time, I’d find myself looking for an explanation that justifies why I chose communication over another field of study that leads to a more recognizable career path.

It wasn’t until my Co-op term with Fraser Health that I started to gain a solid understanding of what a career in Communication could really encompass. Through working for a health authority, especially in the middle of a pandemic, I began to understand the important role that communicators play - how crucial it is for them to provide clear and relevant information to the public to keep them informed, mitigate crises, and counter misinformation.

In an organization with lots of moving parts, I learned how fast-paced this field can be and the vast amount of work that communicators need to do in order to reach and influence their audience. With each assignment I was given, my supervisor taught me how to move from just writing content to thinking strategically about the messaging I am trying to deliver with my work. For me, this meant recognizing the type of audience I am trying to reach and leveraging the information or approach that they would value the most

The biggest thing that stuck out to me about health care communications was the fact that our audience is entitled to the information that we are trying to deliver to them.

As opposed to other sectors where Communication promotes for-profit products or services, in the health care sector, Communication promotes information that people need to make healthy choices. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became overwhelmingly clear to me that the role communicators play was not just to promote information for people’s health and well-being, but to ensure that the audience has equal access to the information that they have a right to know.

And boom - there it was. An answer to this recurring question about my degree. Maybe it’s not as simple as I wanted it to be, but it was a concrete answer. And not only did it allow me to answer the “what do you do”, but also the “why” of working in communications, and why this sector specifically?

When you work in health care communications, you have the privilege of making a direct impact on your community and their well-being. And in my opinion, that makes the work as rewarding and fulfilling as it can get.

About the Author

Samantha De Leon

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

Posts by Author

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Blog
Social Media Addiction & Screen Fatigue: A Survival Guide for Jobs in Social Media

When it comes to social media and digital marketing positions, it’s easy to be blinded by the positives. After all, many Communication majors are fascinated by digital marketing and algorithms— and if you’re a digital native, creating social media content might already be second nature to you. Whether you manage social media for your organization or create external content, there are a few bonuses to consider.

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Blog
5 Tips I've Learned as Digital Communications Specialist on Video Editing

Video editing can be hard. And while this video won’t turn you into an editing master, it can hopefully provide you with some information to make the job easier. Being a third-year Communication student with a passion for creating, Brianna Tsang shares 5 tips and tricks that she has learned throughout her 8-month Co-op placement with FCAT (Faculty of Communication Arts and Technology) as a Digital Communications Specialist.

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Blog
How to Boss Your First Work Term and Get an Extension

Landing your first work term can be a lengthy and challenging task, but the work doesn’t stop when your get that offer letter. Navigating your first day, and even first term can be tricky. Continue reading to see four tips that helped me make the most of my first work term and helped me turn my 4-month placement into an 8-month one so hopefully, you can too.

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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...

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Decision Support at Vancouver Coastal Health

Ever thought about working in Management Information Systems? Third year business student Vivyn Zhou shares her journey working for System Improvement in the Decision Support department at Vancouver Coastal Health. 

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Orientation and Training

In the first of a three-part series, Rachael begins her summer Co-op at a BC Easter Seals camp. Follow along as she goes through training and orientation, explaining the most strenuous, emotional and inspiring parts of her journey. 

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Small Fish in Big Pond: Working for PepsiCo

Fahad Faruque discusses highlights from his co-op semester in quality assurance at PepsiCo.