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SFU Co-op Student

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From adapting to the corporate atmosphere, gaining technical skills and proper project management skills, I left the company with an advantage over countless students.

Attending university involves many deadlines and countless interactions with fellow students and professors, not to mention a constant effort to prepare students to succeed in the workforce. How can one prepare for studying at university with minimal stress and difficulties? This is a very important question students must ask to find answers which suit their lifestyle needs. I experienced this first-hand after being accepted into the Communications Department at Teekay Shipping Corporation, the largest operator of medium-sized tankers and off-shore shuttle tankers (ships designed for oil transport from off-shore oil sources). I was not aware of the company’s status walking into the interview; however, after experiencing the culture, the professionalism, and most importantly, the 20-storey view in downtown, it was clear that I was miles away from my lecture hall.

Working as the communications intern, alongside four other experienced Teekay employees, our department was undersized; however, the task at hand was enormous. The overall goal was to transform the company’s cultural atmosphere from being traditional to modern. The corporate culture is conservative and moves cautiously. When it comes to engaging Teekay’s stakeholders in real conversation, it is often very formal and hierarchical. This was a quality that was difficult to adapt to because the thoughts I intended to promote needed research and numerous meetings in order for any change to flourish.

This mentality needed to change from the communication perspective; hence, hiring a young idea-generator, the team and I began to find ways to start the redevelopment process. The goal was to build a community, and engage in a conversation through social media, for which I was responsible. We started internally and the central project was the redevelopment of Teekay’s Intranet, an internal area where employees are updated on the company’s latest news. Adopting social media features to drive the conversation, it was my responsibility to find three vendors that would be able to fulfill our requirements. It seemed like a quick process; however, determining budgets, stakeholder requirements, vendor demos, and the hefty price of changing the current Intranet was a project which was nothing like the stereotypical group assignment at university.

I came in determined with a vision and planned to bring the millennial perspective to the table. This allowed employees to personalize, share, and collaborate with colleagues in comparison to the hierarchical method. In comparison to the “real-world”, university teaches us to collaborate and not be hesitant to share innovative ideas with the class; however, working in the corporate industry, I felt hesitant to speak up. The experience of sharing my ideas with the group was a vital experience to gain. The daily routine in a corporate environment involves meetings, which was helpful because I became comfortable in a formal environment. In university, the tutorial atmosphere usually consists of an awkward silence when the students are asked to speak up; however, I will not be a part of that group any longer. As intimidating as corporate environment is, I learned valuable lessons about communicating concisely.

My co-workers always encouraged me to contribute ideas to upcoming projects and were committed to my progress. From adapting to the corporate atmosphere, gaining technical skills and proper project management skills, I left the company with an advantage over countless students. Rather than living in the moment, I believe it is important to look at the big picture and working at Teekay helped me understand that. The team was supportive and everyone made me feel part of the company. I leave Teekay Shipping with a better knowledge of the workforce, great relationships, and valuable experience in the corporate communications industry.

SFU Co-op Student

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