Skip to main content
Arts + Social Sciences
Co-operative Education

empty
George standing outside, next to a British Columbia sign
1. What are you studying at SFU, and what year are you in?

I am majoring in political science and minoring in international studies with a concentration of international security and conflict. I am in fourth year and last semester.

2. What co-op work term(s) have you done?

I have completed three co-op work terms. The first was completed working on a project conducted by SFU. The second and third term were completed at the BC Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy within the Climate Action Secretariat.

3. Working with BC Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy must have been rewarding as they have such a strong mission. Do you feel their mission helped you feel more motivated at the workplace?

The importance and urgency of the mission the BC Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy had certainly helped instil high levels of motivation when completing my work tasks. Understanding that the research and projects which I am undertaking have a larger and important purpose in protecting British Columbians and meeting important emissions reductions targets helped me provide my best work.

4. Do you think working in the Climate Action Secretariat helped you develop organization skills such as your planning and execution?

Working within the Climate Action Secretariat, I had the opportunity to develop a multitude of skills that are crucial within a professional environment that the educational environment does not always give a chance to fully develop. Some of these skills are organizational skills within the specific context of working on a research project. I was assigned multiple research projects where I was afforded the liberty of deciding the best approach to completing these research projects. After completing the planning process, I was to oversee the execution of these research projects and seeing them through to completion.

5. How did each co-op experience differ for you?

The co-op experiences gave me the unique perspective of working within the public sector and the private sector. Working for a research project like the one in my first co-op term entailed a very specific set of instructions to be followed and set of questions to be answered. It was a very rigid project which had checkmarks that required completion. Working within the Climate Action Secretariat was a completely different experience. It was a much more open-ended process that took in my input. My supervisor worked with me to achieve an overall objective, however how best to go about achieving that was open to debate between myself and her. In the end, both experiences revolved around research projects but both had very different process for completion.

6. Can you tell us a highlight from your co-op experiences (or one from each if you’d like)?

Working within the Climate Action Secretariat, there were several highlights both within my research projects and outside of it. My favorite work specific highlight is when I published my work report summarizing all my findings from the various research projects. Seeing the culmination of six months of hard work summarized and presented to my team and executives within the branch gave me a sense of pride and fulfillment.

Outside of work experience one of the main highlights was a goodbye dinner organized by my team as my term was coming to an end. I was extremely lucky in that I was placed in a very welcoming team who made me feel like a valued member from day one. They ensured that I felt welcome and at home in this new environment. The goodbye dinner was certainly bittersweet.

7. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from your co-op experiences?

There has been a multitude of lessons that I have received from my co-op experiences. Most of them revolved at how I can adapt to a new professional working environment, as well as taking the skills that I have practiced within an educational environment and applying them to a professional environment. Some of the skills I picked up revolved around time management, being able to balance multiple work projects based on priority, and writing reports within a professional setting. If there is one thing that I am truly grateful for from these co-op experiences is the priceless work experience and connections that I was able to gain while still completing my degree. Most positions that are hiring require some sort of experience along with a degree. Being able to graduate with work experience that is related to my educational field will prove truly invaluable in the future.

8. What criteria have you used to evaluate whether or not a position is a good fit for you?

My evaluation process of positions on whether they would be a good fit or not required an in-depth analysis of the posting. I would first begin to look and see who the employer is and do a little bit of research around the work they do. This would give me an idea if the work that I will be doing is something that will help fuel my motivation. I then begin to inspect the details of the work within the posting. This will give me an idea if the work that I will be doing is something that I either already have experience with, or whether it is something that my educational experience can compliment. If it is something that I have some sort of experience in the past, whether in the academic or professional field helps instill confidence that this position will be a good fit.

9. What have your employers or workplaces done to help you feel comfortable, supported and/or successful during your work terms?

My coworkers and supervisor were incredibly supportive from day one to ensure that I am comfortable and feel welcome within my work term. Even though my supervisor couldn’t personally welcome me to the office as she was working remotely on my start date, she ensured that one of our team members was able to welcome me in reception and give me a tour of the office. My supervisor provided constant and consistent support by setting up daily 1-on-1 talks where we can address my work projects and I can bring forth any concerns that I have. Once I became more comfortable with the process and the work, these check-ins were limited to twice a week to make better use of our time. My team members went above and beyond in making me feel welcomed in that many of them took me to coffee breaks in my first week to introduce themselves and get to know me better. It has been my experience so far that most team members are extremely friendly and will provide any assistance needed to ensure that you can succeed within a co-op term.

10. What would you tell seeking students going into their first co-op?

First off, congratulations! Finding a co-op placement is an extremely challenging process and landing your first position is something to be proud of. To make the most of your experience, I really recommend that you work from the office if that is possible. Having worked a hybrid position which other co-ops chose to do remotely, I can personally guarantee that it is a lot more fun and interesting. Another thing is, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your coworkers and supervisors understand that you are still a student who will from time to time need assistance, there is certainly no shame in asking and when you do, it can ensure that you give the best possible work product which you can be proud of. And lastly, enjoy it! Co-op can be an amazing experience where you get to meet new people, make new connections, experience new things and maybe even experience a new city; make the most of it!

Co-operative Education

Posts by Author

Headshot of Janvi
Blog
How To Land Your First Co-op

Knowing what I wanted to specialize in allowed me to start making plans for my first Co-op term. In all honesty, getting your first Co-op term can be exciting and intimidating. However, with a little planning and effort, you can position yourself for success.

A pen over a paper with the Fraser Institute logo
Blog
Employer Feature: An Interview With The Fraser Institute's Senior Manager, Development Events

Meet Danielle Fleck, the Senior Manager of Development Events at Fraser Institute. In this quick Q&A, Danielle discusses the benefits of having an intern at the organization, the growth of the interns they hired and how the organization made the interns feel comfortable in their position.

Laptop on a desk next to a plant
Blog
Learning on the Job without an Expert to Guide You

I was the only communication person in my department; there were no experienced communicators to work closely with and learn from. I thought this situation would limit my room to learn, but surprisingly I gained valuable experiences and exercised skills that I didn't expect.

You Might Like These... Academic Success, Convocation, Professional Development, Major Decisions, Life Experience, Community

Photo of Aleeze Asif
The Journey from Business to Arts

Aleeze reflects on a major career decision that led her to switch majors from Businesss to SIAT and how that positively affected her life.

Balloons floating in the sky
How my First Co-op Position Inspired me to Dream

As an undergraduate student who decided to switch my degree from Psychology to Communication on a whim, I was very nervous about my future career path, especially since I felt like I was the only person that had no big dreams in life. Therefore, I decided to apply to Co-op to start piecing together my goals and ambitions.

A laptop on a desk with a site containing different scenic images
What did I do to Extinguish my Co-op Nerves?

This was it. I finished writing my resumes, successfully passed the interview process, and accepted the job offer with cheers of joy. I told my mother with a large grin on my face, but in the midst of my excitement, my smile slightly lowered, and a wave of nervousness washed over me.

You Might Like These... During the Work Term

Oliver, next to a computer with work on his desk
Captain’s log: a Co-op Students Guide to Navigating Their First Work Term

I will be going over my transformation from a bumbling Co-op student to a full-fledged Marketing Coordinator and give tips on how you too can navigate through your first work term.

Fatima standing in front of mountains
WHERE Are They Now: An Interview with a Former Master's Co-op Student

Many times, our co-op students graduate from our program, and use these experiences in future positions. Today, we will be interviewing a former student of ours, Fatima Sajid to see where she is now after graduation. Read about how her onboarding processes went, the skills she learnt and how her employers helped her develop said skills.

Student standing next to a sign at an outdoor event
A Q&A with a MA Political Science Co-op Student

Meet Aliyah Datoo, an SFU Master of Political Science Co-op student. In this quick Q&A, Aliyah shares a bit about her co-op experience. Keep on reading as Aliyah shares her day to day tasks, the onboarding process and how she has felt about the experience.