Skip to main content

Alison Tan

SFU Co-op Student
Arts + Social Sciences › History

empty
Alison
I can now say with great confidence, that working for the federal government is not as intimidating as some may believe.

This article was originally published in the Arts Connect Co-op Newsletter in Spring 2012.

It is no secret why we become co-op students. Those of us that do are attracted to the program because we are itching for some real world experience outside the comfort of academia. The lingering reminder that a stable job will keep us housed, clothed, and fed after graduation is also a major push factor. If you dedicate your time and effort to it, co-op promises to expand your horizons beyond mere academic achievement and put you squarely on the road to employment, whether you have a set career in mind or not. Needless to say, my expectations going into my first co-op term with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) were high and, thankfully, the experience has been more than I could have asked for.

First of all, I can now say with great confidence, that working for the federal government is not as intimidating as some may believe. In contrast to the standard, uptight caricatures we picture in our heads when we hear the word “government”, my time at AAFC’s Burnaby office was spent working with a group of welcoming and supportive people, each with unique personalities of their own. The friendly and inviting working atmosphere meant that it was immediately easy for me to feel like a respected member of the team, which left me unafraid to seek help when needed.

At the start of my term, I was unfamiliar with AAFC, but in a short period of time, I became more acquainted with the work they do to promote international market access for Canadian agriculture and agri-food businesses and their products. Throughout the term, I worked with the Marketing and Trade, and Communications branches; this allowed me the opportunity to work with a variety of people and take on different roles on a regular basis.

With journalistic ambitions, I was attracted to this position because of the prospect of putting together a publication from start to finish. Not only did I get the chance to do this, but I was given the opportunity to strengthen my drafting and editing skills in developing promotional materials, media pieces, a monthly trade bulletin, and more. As much as I craved having these non-academic writing assignments, my experience at AAFC did not end there.

Previously daunted by new and unfamiliar software, my day-to-day duties involved regular use of Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite programs; I was forced to conquer my fears quickly and accordingly. I never thought I would be capable of producing decent looking brochures and posters for public viewing, but this is now an accomplishment I can add to my growing repertoire.

Equally beneficial were a sampling of duties that included media pitching, interviewing, and responding to various inquiries. These duties kept me engaged in different forms of communication and gave me a taste of what my future could involve. Small tasks such as daily media monitoring, updating the office’s client information database, and helping out other colleagues in need, were important duties that enhanced my responsibilities and, in turn, my ability to contribute to the office as a whole.

As my first co-op term, I can think of fewer positions better than the one I was privileged to have at AAFC. Surpassing my expectations, which were focused on the prospect of more writing experience, my time here was spent gradually accumulating proficiencies that leave me better equipped for future ventures. More priceless than gaining the valuable technical skills I doubted I would ever achieve, was the experience itself. The privilege of successfully getting my feet wet alongside accomplished and encouraging professionals came as welcome evidence that my career goals lie within the realms of reality.

Beyond the Blog

  • Alison Tan Jan 1, 2012
    Like to recommend this item
    visibility  15

About the Author

Alison Tan

SFU Co-op Student
Arts + Social Sciences › History

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.

 

Alison
library_books
Blog
Government Workers, They’re Just Like Us: Joining the Team at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Personal Development, Workplace Success, Career Exploration

Read about Alison's co-op at Agriculture and Agri-food Canada and how this experience has changed some her expectations of working in the federal government sector! 

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

Advisor helping student
From Advising in Person to Advising at Home – My First Co-op Work Term

JenJen was not quite expecting to be advising fellow SFU students as a Student Academic Advisor from the comfort of her home as her very first co-op experience. Read on to learn more on how she found her stride in getting used to a new work environment as a new co-op student in unusual circumstances.

food displaying
An Event Planning Odyssey
Robert, a Computing Science student, spent his co-op as a software developer at Visier. He went above and beyond by volunteering to plan fun social events for the company, which resulted in some great learning experiences.
A youth sports club
The Pros & Cons of Working for a Small Non-Profit

Ever wondered what working for a non-profit is like? Further, have you ever wondered what working for an extremely small non-profit is like?In her article, Marisa describes what it was like to work at a youth sports-oriented non-profit where she collaborated with a small team of only three, and lists both the pros and cons of non-profit work.