When I first moved to Canada, traveling a distance of 12,000 km from Bangladesh to get here, I could only dream of securing a position at a Fortune 500 company for my first co-op term. Fast forward three years, I now work for PepsiCo Beverages at their Delta manufacturing facility as an Operations Management/Engineering Co-op. With constant perseverance and great support from the Beedie community, I could not have asked for a better opportunity as an operations management major.
A Peak into my Day at Work
Just to give a bit of context on what my role entailed, I was working in the quality control team, which is one among the four key departments in the operations side of a plant. The other three being – production, maintenance, and warehouse. The quality control team is in charge of ensuring that all products being manufactured are compliant with food safety regulations and are of the highest quality possible.
As a QC co-op student, my daily life at work could be categorized into three segments – mandatory tasks, ad-hoc support, and projects. My everyday mandatory tasks included generating yield reports on Excel, compiling and verifying the documentation of quality control checks, reviewing the specifications of our products manufactured and communicating with the frontline employees to understand their operational problems. That being said, any single day at work is never the same in a manufacturing plant, which I found to be very exciting and a great learning opportunity. There are always different issues that need attention such as machine troubleshooting, low yields, plant audits etc. which is why there are always ad-hoc requests to investigate or take corrective measures on a number of issues.
During my term, I have been very fortunate to have a team of great colleagues and a very understanding supervisor who assigned me to an assignment that aligns closely with my desired career trajectory – a data analytics project to optimize syrup loss on one of our production lines. Right from its commencement, I had the opportunity to handle a number of tasks ranging from collecting data to analyzing and rolling out the implementation of my recommendation.
Based on my experience at PepsiCo, here are a few key takeaways on how to make the best out of your internship!
1. Be proactive and take the initiative to learn from day one. I know that sounds like a cliché piece of advice, but for giant organizations like PepsiCo, you cannot be expected to be trained on nitty-gritty details in such a short time. However, at the same time, there are things that you have to comprehensively understand in order to truly have an impact at work, and in order to do that, you must go out of your way and learn things by yourself. One tactic I learned during my term is to consistently ask the question “why?” when asked to perform a task or when observing others doing one. It opens up an entire spectrum of processes that you can learn about and use those learnings to have a better impact on your own work and projects.
2. Try to find your ‘niche’ and gain a specific kind of expertise. I know that a four-month tenure may be a short time to really become an expert at anything and you should be exploring multiple opportunities during your co-op. However, if you maximize your work hours, you can have room to work on different things while also focusing on one specific niche. In my case for instance, I devoted a good chunk of my time to learning more about one of our filler machines. It also increases your chances of retention within the company upon graduation.
3. Excel is the key to excelling (pun intended). It is very easy to be overwhelmed with all the sophisticated technological inventions around us these days with industries like AI and Blockchain taking over. However, I cannot stress the importance of being an Excel wiz, especially as a business student in a technical role. I have had to use Excel on a daily basis and I have seen all my colleagues do the same. It is a great tool to gather insights and showcase your findi, and there is so much that you can do with it that I learned during my work term. As a result, I have made it an objective to master Excel VBA before I start my next co-op term.
I believe that the work that I have done at PepsiCo as an operations management co-op student is highly transferable to any other industry such as management consulting, project management or engineering. It involved the right mix of communicating with different stakeholders, crunching numbers to gather insights and taking corrective actions based off of the insights gathered. I would highly recommend students of any business concentration to apply for this position as it is an experience of a lifetime. There is so much that I am taking away from this experience and I believe it has helped me grow, both professionally and personally.
Beyond the Blog
- Learn more about opportunities like Fahad's by visiting the Beedie Business Co-op homepage.