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Julie Nguyen

SFU Co-op Student
Beedie School of Business › International Business, Beedie School of Business › Human Resource Management

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For me, through this offsite engagement, I can see myself being able to directly contribute to one of the company’s missions: giving back to the community.

I started my first Co-op term with Teck Resources Ltd. (Teck) - a company that earns its reputation as Canada’s largest diversified resource company, with major business units focused on copper, steelmaking coal, zinc, and energy. On my very first day, one of my tasks was to read the company’s sustainability report. As I learned more about the company and its approach to sustainability, I also asked myself these questions: how does Teck contribute to the community? What accomplishments has it made so far? What impacts has it had? Flipping through the sustainability report and reading Teck News helped me learn more about the numbers, but obviously, it wasn’t enough. Until I volunteered for their Mining for Miracle Celebrity Pie Throw event...

Mining for Miracle is an annual event, a fundraising campaign for the BC Children’s Hospital to help improve the quality of health care for children in our province. Through its support, children with critical needs are encouraged to stay strong and win over their illnesses. My colleague had suggested that I volunteer for this event, thinking that it would be a useful way to learn more about the company’s social engagements, an opportunity to meet new people, and a fun event to attend for a newbie like me. Turns out, it was an eye-opening experience! It made me realize that co-op is so much more than just learning certain skills or getting your foot in the door, it is also about giving back when you can.

Photo of the pie throw mini fair event

At the event, I was assigned the role of a Mascot Handler. I helped guide the mascot when they walked around to dance and play with everyone. The mascot - the Sunny Bear - represented the BC Children’s Hospital. That was the first time I had ever been assigned such a task. I initially thought this should be easy, walking around, waving hello and distributing candy. On the contrary, I realized that it required strong interpretation skills since the person working as the mascot cannot talk once they are in their costume. Interacting with kids is not easy either, especially those who need special care. Here is when my ability to multitask was put to good use. I was able to interact with people while still attending to the mascot's needs.

Author with the Sunny Bear Mascot

At the event, we all had the chance to get to know one another and have a good time. Despite the hot weather, everyone was willing to remain at their post and stay to help out with the clean-up at the end. In total, we helped raise $1,606,594 for the BC Children’s Hospital. Such an admirable number! Each of us felt overwhelmed with what we had achieved. When a representative from the foundation delivered her gratitude speech, I realized what those numbers that I read in the report meant, and how meaningful they were to the people in need.

Photo of the Pie throw competition result at the fair

What I’m trying to say is: don’t hide behind your desk! It might be difficult at first trying to participate even in a conversation with some colleagues, but as Jocelyn Hernandez has said: “Your co-op journey starts at the end of your comfort zone” - that is part of the learning curve, part of being involved in the professional world. More importantly, you’ll learn a lot more about the company you work for and appreciate the value of the experience. For me, through this offsite engagement, I can see myself being able to directly contribute to one of the company’s missions: giving back to the community. You ask me, does it feel good when I can see the huge positive impact my company makes on the people they are helping? No, it does not, in fact, it feels G-R-E-A-T!

About the Author

Julie Headshot

Julie Nguyen

SFU Co-op Student
Beedie School of Business › International Business, Beedie School of Business › Human Resource Management
Connect with Julie on LinkedIn

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