Skip to main content
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
Co-operative Education

Me on the right talking with one of my peers about the Burnaby Mountain gondola! I was enthusiastic about the project and engaging with the public.
I can surely say that there is no straightforward answer to the question that was nagging in my mind. Nevertheless, I know that the core of what I did in public relations was untangling complex ideas and information into something everyone would understand.

“What is public relations?" This question feels as vague as someone asking me what majoring in Communications studies leads to. I admit that I want to pursue a career path in this industry, but I have repeatedly asked myself this question throughout my academics. In my search to find out, my experience working as a Communications Assistant in SFU’s Communications and Marketing office has given me a clearer picture of public relations.

When I got the offer from SFU, I thought, “Okay, I have no idea what I’m doing other than the general description of the position.” However, I soon realized there is more to it than what public relations entails—from monitoring public sentiment to doing public engagements; I slowly realized the answer to the nagging question I’ve been trying to answer.

Throughout my time in SFU Communications and Marketing, I had the opportunity to write SFU News articles about subjects like institutional announcements, amazing work by emerging young researchers, and creative art installations. I went into writing thinking it would be easy—especially for students like me—but it wasn’t your typical run-of-the-mill essay writing. Copywriting is a skill that I’m still learning, and the support from the whole office on reviewing and suggesting edits helped me by pointing out the subconscious essay writing style that I fall back into.

The Gondola Street Squad! (Left to right: Communications & Marketing Co-op students: Ayo, Kobie(me!), Kayla, Dru and Erica.

I also had the opportunity to work on an extensive public engagement project with fellow Co-op students in the office—whom I became close friends with outside of work! We were out on the streets and around campus drumming up excitement over the gondola project, and that was when I realized that this is one aspect of what public relations is about—the face-to-face public engagement of the work that you put your heart into. Not only so, but my newfound Co-op friends and I planned a whole social media engagement campaign for the gondola project by creating an entertaining video and poll on Twitter and Instagram. With some notes and revisions by our colleagues, we built up an enthusiasm for the Burnaby Mountain Gondola project through our online engagement!

I can surely say that there is no straightforward answer to the question that was nagging in my mind. Nevertheless, I know that the core of what I did in public relations was untangling complex ideas and information into something everyone would understand. I am beyond grateful to my two supervisors and all my colleagues at SFU Communications and Marketing that helped me understand what public relations is about.  If you still are unsure about what it is to work in public relations, I would highly recommend going for a trial run by doing a co-op in the industry and experiencing what public relations are to you!

SFU Student Undergraduate
Co-operative Education

Posts by Author

Annelyse standing in front of a window
Interview with an Arts Co-op Student: How a Policy Intern Position Improves your Writing

Meet Annelyse Ross, a Political Science and Social Data Analytics Co-op student. In this quick Q&A, Annelyse shares about her co-op experience. Read about how she discusses how she determines if a position is a good fit for her, what she did in her Policy Intern position and even how she got to travel as part of her position.

Calendar with pinned dates
Expect the Unexpected with Event Planning

I’ve learned to expect the unexpected in the field of communications, but this semester, that was taken to the next level, as event planning became the focus. While most days were fairly regular office hours, I did once spend the weekend as a guide and mic runner for a research summit. Another time, I got to attend a free class in voguing!

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

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely in the same shoes as I was, fresh out of an academic term and excited but anxious about your upcoming Communication Co-op placement. The question lingering in your head at this very moment is probably “what is this Co-op student rambling about, and can he just cut to the point?”. Well my dear reader, in this final entry of my Captain’s log, 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.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Career Exploration, Student Success

picture of marlo in a lab, smiling
Student Spotlight: Marlo Shackleford

The 4th and final interview with the MBB co-op students. The OLC talks to Marlo Shackleford, a 4th year MBB student who worked 3 terms over the last year first with Welichm Biotech Inc. and then UBC James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Old magazine that reads, "Cool! English"
Doing Your English Degree? Be Ready fro Unexpected Career Opportunities

What can you do with an English degree? The wide range of opportunities may surprise you. Arts & Social Sciences Co-op staff and English Undergraduate Advisor offer tips on pursuing a career with a degree in English.

animated man being pulled down a hill an @ sign, underneath the words "take control of your reputation"
Enhancing Your Online Reputation

Your resume and cover letter impressed them… Your interview dazzled them… and you’re confident that your references will sing your praises. But, what else could factor into an employer’s assessment of you as a potential employee?

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

Image of False Creek
Cycling Out of a Cycle

As I was finishing my third and final lap biking around the Stanley Park Seawall, my legs felt like Jell-O. I never biked this much before (a whopping 53 km that day, by the way), which made me wonder why I agreed to go on a “short” bike ride with my new co-workers at Vancouver Coastal Health. Looking back, however, I am glad that I agreed to join the bike ride. Continue reading to learn how this activity got me to know my co-workers outside of work – something that I didn’t know I needed.

an interviewee shaking hands of the two interviewers
4 Tips on Showcasing Projects in Interviews

Why talk about your work when you can show it?  Good portfolio pieces will help set you apart from other candidates. Here are some important tips from Co-op students, coordinators and employers on showcasing your portfolio during interviews.

conference table with empty chairs
Co-op Employer Identifies Interviewing Weaknesses

You've always heard about how to prepare for interviews from your peers and your coordinators, but what about from an employer? Kim Steinbart of the BC Forest Service discusses common interview mistakes and provides tips on how to put your best foot forward.