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Jasmeet Kaur

(she/her)
SFU Student Undergraduate
Science › Mathematics
Co-operative Education › Local Co-op

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Position Title
Experience Faculty
Joining the co-op program at SFU was a great learning opportunity while working towards an undergraduate degree. I completed 3 work terms with Kular Management Services.
Experience Details
Semester
Spring
Year
2024
Introduction + Preparation
Preparation Tips for Future Students

For my co-op work term, I joined Kular Management Services as an Administrative Assistant. Spring 2024 is my third and final work term. Since I have done my previous work terms with the same company, the beginning of this term was a lot smoother than the first one. My first piece of advice to future students thinking of joining the co-op program would be to set clear goals. When I started looking for jobs, I was thinking more of the financial benefits than the experience itself. I believe with some career goals in mind, I could have done better in interviews. Another piece of advice that could be helpful would be to gain some volunteer experience. There are plenty of opportunities available at SFU for students. I have over a year of experience as a peer educator and other volunteer experiences to support the transferrable skills on my resume. The SFU co-op program is well-designed to guide students throughout their co-op journey. During my first seeking semester, as required, I attended Resume workshops, Cover Letter workshops and many others to help prepare for job applications. For someone who had never applied to jobs before, attending these workshops was a great opportunity to learn. Unfortunately, I didn't receive a co-op offer in my first seeking semester. Looking back now, I believe I could’ve done better with a little knowledge about resumes and cover letters before getting into the co-op program. So, conducting some self-study regarding the job application process could be helpful.

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

My orientation at KMS was quite smooth. My supervisor walked me through the process patiently; reviewing all the tasks I would be performing daily, sharing details about the company and introducing me to other staff members at the organization. Being around professionals was a whole new experience for me. I was quite nervous thinking about adjusting to a completely different environment. I am thankful for the warm welcome and the kind of treatment I received on my first day from the entire KMS team. The first week was all about getting to know the company rules and regulations. I received a list of clients I would be interacting with during my work term. My first task was to research the existing clients and write an email introducing myself to everyone. I spent most of the time with my supervisor going over tips to effectively interact with the customers. As my supervisor has over 15 years of business experience to offer, it was a great opportunity for me to learn. I was assigned additional online courses to guide me through the administrative procedures during the following weeks.

Learning and Adaptation

I started performing my daily tasks beginning the third week after finishing the training activities. KMS is a janitorial company that provides labour to hotels throughout BC. My main job duty was to create a schedule for around 80 employees every day while staying in touch with the hotel managers for any complaints or concerns. For about a week, my supervisor helped me in making the schedule and writing professional emails to clients. With continuous support, I started completing the tasks on my own within no time. My supervisor was always there to help whenever needed. Sometimes, I would feel overwhelmed by the complaints from clients but every time I gained guidance on how to handle concerns efficiently. The best part of working with KMS was being around experienced people and getting useful life lessons and success tips from everyone. After a wonderful experience in my first work term, I decided to join the same company for my second work term, eight months later. The start of the term was much easier this time. I was enthusiastic to learn more about the company and help it achieve its goals. While performing the same duties as the first term, I was also given new tasks including finding new customers for the company.

Accomplishments and Challenges

My new tasks included assisting in advertising to develop fresh ideas to let people know what KMS has to offer. With continuous efforts, we found 2 more clients which was a remarkable accomplishment for me. During my second work term, I was introduced to QuickBooks software to keep track of office expenses. By the end of the second work term, I helped reduce office expenses by 20%. For scheduling purposes and other administrative tasks, I used digital platforms instead of paper thereby reducing paper usage by 40%. I believe learning never ends, and even though this is my third term with KMS, I think of every day as another opportunity to learn something new.

The major challenge I encountered during my work terms was time management. During my first term, I was taking one academic class while working full-time. I struggled to keep up a work-study balance. I couldn’t perform as expected in my academic class because of the extensive workload so I believe it is better not to take any academic classes during the first work term for a smooth start. To perform better, I started my second work term by listing the problems I faced during my first work term, time management being the biggest concern. With careful planning, I was able to perform well in my academic class this term while working full-time. Another challenge I faced was my hesitancy to ask for help because of my highly introverted personality. It was hard for me to speak up in front of everyone during our weekly staff meetings. Even if I had a brilliant idea, I would be hesitant to bring it up. My supervisor noticed that and encouraged me to share my thoughts with the other team members. With continuous support from colleagues, I started feeling more confident.

Reflection & Tips
Reflection

The co-op program is a great opportunity for university students to gain valuable experience related to their field of study. After doing three work terms with KMS, I can say it was a great experience and a wonderful learning opportunity for me. As a university student, I had no previous experience working in the business sector. This was my chance to learn professionalism. I gained valuable skills throughout my co-op journey that will help me in my future goals. This job helped me improve my interpersonal, organizational and problem-solving skills. As an Administrative Assistant, I was required to deal with company customers through emails and phone calls that helped improve my communication and writing skills. The most valuable skill I improved on was time management which is important at every workplace. Even though I struggled in the first term, with support and guidance from my team members, I was able to meet most of the deadlines on time. In addition to learning new skills, this job helped meet my financial needs as well. As an international student, I was overwhelmed by the high tuition I had to pay for my degree. But after joining the co-op program and with careful planning, I could manage everything easily.

Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

I would like to list a few wonderful aspects of working as an Administrative Assistant with KMS. First and foremost, is the flexible working hours and schedule with an option to work remotely. Most of the time, I could work from home which saved my commute time and expense. With weekends off, I had enough time to study for the one academic class I was taking during each of my work terms. I could also attend most of my in-person lectures which was only possible due to the option of working remotely. As a university student, this was the biggest benefit of taking this job opportunity for me. Another one was the work environment. As I have mentioned before, I received continuous support and guidance from my supervisor and colleagues throughout my co-op journey at KMS. Working in a positive and mutually respectful environment helped me learn and perform better. I often struggled to share my ideas and thoughts but through encouragement from my supervisor, I gained confidence over time. Another valuable aspect is the competitive pay and benefits. At Kular Management Services, the starting pay for a position like Administrative Assistant is $29/hr which I consider is a good start for any undergraduate student.

Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

In connection to my academic studies, this job isn’t directly related to my career goals. I am a fourth-year Math major and Statistics minor at SFU. In terms of academic goals, I am planning to study Advanced Mathematics and pursue a career in teaching higher level Mathematics. Even though I am not planning to continue my career in the Business or Administration sector, the valuable experience I gained through this job will help support my further education. With a year of experience as an Administrative Assistant, I could find better-paying office jobs that I can do while continuously working towards my long-term career objectives. This job has helped me develop specific skills such as problem-solving, communication skills, multi-tasking, attention to detail etc. that are relevant to not only the business sector but also to the field of teaching. The challenges I faced during my work terms have boosted my self-confidence and have helped me overcome the fear of speaking up among a group of people. I wish to become a Research Professor which means I will be working with experts in the field of Mathematics trying to find the answers for many unsolved problems. I have learnt how to work as a team player through this job which will help me work with fellow Mathematicians and teaching students.

Advice for Future Students

By the end of the Spring 2024 term, I will have completed the required 3 work terms to receive a Co-operative Education degree designation. Being an undergraduate student majoring in Math, there are limited jobs available that are directly related to Mathematics. But Mathematical knowledge can be applied to a wide range of fields. In my first seeking semester, I was discouraged to see few jobs specifically for Math majors. So my advice to all the Math majors out there thinking of joining co-op, is to try something out of the box. I believe the definition of a challenge depends on an individual. Something that is easy for one person might be a challenge for someone else. Keep learning and trying new things that might at first look daunting. I've always found dealing with people a struggle, so I saw this as a chance to overcome that. Another recommendation for Math students that I received from many professors is to participate in Undergraduate Student research Awards (USRAs) at SFU. It is a great opportunity to work with professors and gain research experience.   

Author

Jasmeet Kaur

(she/her)
SFU Student Undergraduate
Science › Mathematics
Co-operative Education › Local Co-op
visibility  146
May 7, 2024