Skip to main content
Beedie School of Business
Business Co-op Student

Matthew Lee standing in front of a board with the Canada Revenue Agency logo in English and french

“Is working at a large organization the right fit for me?”

This was a question I asked myself as I applied for positions for my work term. Having worked for smaller organizations, I enjoyed working closely with smaller teams, mainly by communicating face-to-face with others to achieve quick resolutions to problems. Like a lot of other students, I preferred the closer support and intimate company culture. In a large company, I believed, there would be lots of teleconferencing, waiting, and confusion related to communication. I also had the fear that my work would go unnoticed.

Despite my apprehensions, I wanted to take advantage of the co-op program’s ability to allow me to experience different work environments. When I was offered the opportunity to work at the Regional Programs Office at Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in Vancouver, I was excited but also wary of the potential challenges. My impression of government jobs was that they were in large government offices, marked by bureaucracy and a boring routine.

However, within the first month of work, I quickly learned otherwise: the responsibilities of my student position were much more than preparing reports that the co-op posting originally stated. As part of a small team, I was providing strategic planning and advice for the Regional Director of Programs for the Pacific Region. I got to work closely with a few other students and the managers on analyzing and reporting on regional issues. The position showed me that working in a tight-knit team is also possible within large organizations.

Overall, the work term exceeded my original expectations. Working in a dedicated team in a unique workplace that balances the environment between larger organizations and smaller teams helped me develop habits and skills that I may not have learned if I worked in a smaller organization.

Crucial to any organization is being able to work with team members in other offices. This job has improved my communication skills, both over the phone and by email. As most of the team was involved in decision making, it was important to learn to provide concise summaries as they required top-level information for quick briefings within their busy schedules. Meanwhile, working with large datasets honed my skills and techniques in analyzing and manipulating data efficiently to sort out useful information - a powerful asset when working with data.

Aside from the work, I enjoyed the engagement of the student community. As the only student in my prior work terms, I initially had difficulties connecting with colleagues that had years of experience. Having fellow students within the organization at CRA allowed us to comfortably share our issues and advise each other when we had difficulties. Furthermore, we were also able to organize an information exchange with students in other fields to gain insight into each other’s different roles and responsibilities within the CRA.

Although working for a large government organization has its benefits, there are also some negatives. Much of my training and work term consisted of me learning all the processes I had to follow. The reports and work had to follow standardized templates and record keeping. If you’re someone who desires independence or freedom with preparing and presenting their work, this may be a challenge to overcome. At the same time, my manager was always looking to implement better ways of doing a task and was open to my ideas. As a result, I was motivated to research and study on developing Excel macros to speed up routine processes.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my work term with the CRA. My work felt valuable and meaningful by being a part of the Canadian tax system, and by helping the CRA reach its mandate of providing value to Canadian taxpayers by administering tax laws and benefits programs.

So. if you’re on the fence about whether you want to apply to large organizations, I suggest that you try both! Experiencing both sides have helped me make a better decision for my future. 

Business Co-op Student
Stay connected with Matthew Lee on LinkedIn.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Career Exploration, Seeking, Work Term Extension

author, courtney, smiling
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...

picture of glichelle pondering a though
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.


person with their head in a book
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.


You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

the author smiling by the garden
Co-op in Clinical Research: Tips for Succeeding in the Workplace

Fahimeh Karimi talks about her research co-op with the BC Children's Hospital.

A split image of the author in start-up versus corporation attire
Working at a Startup vs. Large Corporation: Which Is Right for You?

My two-year roller coaster ride through Intel: A year after embarking on Intel’s newly acquired startup company, the project was shut down and a few members of the team, including myself, were lucky enough to be transferred to a different Intel group. Here’s my experience working in a startup vs working in a large corporation like Intel.

a girl working on a project in the dark
“So, What Are You Going to Do With Your Arts Degree?”

Whether you’re in your first or sixth year, explaining what you intend to do with your degree can be as frustrating as it is… well, frustrating. In this article, Abby Zaporteza sheds light on skills and opportunities, intrinsic to liberal arts.