Skip to main content
Profile image of me!

Anastasia Halapats

SFU Student Undergraduate
Communication, Art + Technology
Co-operative Education

Through hands-on experience and mentorship, I gained a deep understanding of the intricacies involved in managing events effectively. I learned to navigate the unknown with confidence and resilience, improving my problem-solving abilities and adaptability in the process. The skills I acquired are not only applicable to the events industry but also transferable to various sectors of work, underscoring the versatility and value of this experience.
Experience Details
Introduction + Preparation

In preparation for my upcoming co-op term, I felt it was time to completely revamp my resume. It needed a fresh look and I knew exactly where to start: my accomplishments. Having already completed an 8-month co-op, I was aware I had a multitude of skills and invaluable project experiences to share.

As I reflected on my past co-op experiences, I wondered, "How can I communicate my capabilities to potential employers?" and "How can I stand out from the crowd of applicants?" I decided to dissect the tasks I had performed in my previous role and showcase them as "project experiences." This approach enabled me to highlight my diverse skills and knowledge across various fields, helping me stand out from the crowd.

For instance, while my main role involved planning the Undergraduate Conference at SFU, I also participated in student engagement initiatives through outreach and event management. I organized and coordinated student workshops and even took on the role of project manager for a large-scale event. I showcased this on my resume which allowed all my different experiences and skills to be visible.

I strongly believe that this method provided me with a solid foundation for my job search. It allowed me to visualize all my accomplishments, which subsequently boosted my confidence to apply for positions I was previously hesitant about. Additionally, it was a complete confidence booster during interviews!

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

I had my orientation a month before my start date, as the previous co-op was wrapping up their role and could spend a week to onboard me. She guided me through the ins and outs of the company. This was quite helpful, as it gave me time to ask every question I could think of! It was important because she had just gone through the same process, which made my transition smoother.

During my orientation, I had a week of onboarding where each day I learned specific tasks essential for an events coordinator. I familiarized myself with specific tools like Salesforce and software applications such as SharePoint and Asana. This was a fantastic opportunity to learn the basics and be well-equipped for my start date.

I was incredibly grateful for that first week of training because my start week coincided with the busiest month at the company! We had three events scheduled back-to-back at the end of the month, and there was much to be done. Tasks included event documentation, booth preparations, coordinating with couriers, managing email communication between stakeholders, and other project management duties. Despite the intensity of the workload (and this being a learning period for me), I felt confident in my abilities, thanks to the guidance I received during orientation from the previous co-op. Their insights helped me settle in quickly and take charge of my responsibilities.

Day to Day

In my role, every day brought something new and exciting, keeping things dynamic and interesting. As the events assistant, my main focus was coordinating important documentation for events and assisting my supervisor in managing events, which involved a lot of upfront preparation. This included tasks like setting up files for new events, coordinating communication requests for the communications team, overseeing a budget, and outlining project plans with clear timelines and objectives.

Getting all these details sorted required meticulous attention to detail to ensure everything ran smoothly. I made sure to provide thorough background information, key dates, and clearly defined team roles to keep everyone on the same page. Additionally, I stayed in close communication with event organizers to ensure we had all the necessary documents, invoices, and materials in place for each event.

However, my role wasn't limited to event management alone. I also collaborated with other team members on various projects, tackling tasks like data collection in Salesforce, creating visual presentations, and using Excel to sort through important company data. This blend of responsibilities kept things interesting and allowed me to contribute to different aspects of the business.

Another exciting experience was attending my first event during my co-op! Specifically, I had the opportunity to participate in the Pacific Agriculture Show. We set up a booth, organized panelists and speaker sessions, and interacted with various people and companies. It was fascinating to learn about their businesses and share our organization's message. As a bonus, I even had the chance to meet some adorable bunnies! Hopefully, in the future, I'll have the chance to attend more of these events and continue to learn and connect with others in the industry.

Learning and Adaptation

In any role, whether it's in events management or another field, learning and adaptation are essential skills that contribute to success and growth. As an events assistant, I quickly learned that no two days were alike, and each day presented new challenges and opportunities. This dynamic environment required me to continually adapt and learn on the fly, improving my ability to think on my feet and navigate unexpected situations.

One of the key aspects of learning in my role was the necessity to stay up-to-date with industry trends, technologies, and best practices. Events management is a fast-paced industry that is constantly evolving, so staying ahead of the curve is crucial to preparing for successful events. One interesting development that was brought up in workshops and conferences was the integration of AI in event planning and management. Certain software applications were being harnessed to streamline processes, prevent duplicate tasks, and enhance efficiency. These innovations could not only eliminate redundancies but also leverage AI capabilities to automate routine tasks, freeing up valuable time for more strategic decision-making and creative planning. It was interesting to see this in real time and learn how it could be utilized in essentially any workplace. 

Another equally important learning curve I experienced was facing tight deadlines, shifting priorities, or unforeseen challenges. Whether it was adjusting event timelines, revising project plans, finding new panelists, following up on emails or finding creative solutions to last-minute issues, it was interesting to see how quickly I learned to try and adapt to changing circumstances. 

Moreover, collaboration played a significant role in my learning and adaptation process. Working closely with colleagues and event organizers allowed me to leverage their expertise, share insights, and brainstorm innovative ideas. By fostering an environment of open communication and teamwork, I was able to learn from other's experiences and perspectives which allowed me to also enhance my skills and knowledge! 

Accomplishments and Challenges

Reflecting on my journey as an events assistant, I've encountered a mix of accomplishments and challenges that have shaped my professional growth. One of my proudest accomplishments has been mastering the art of event project management. From the guidance of my superstar supervisor, I was able to learn how to create detailed project plans, coordinate with stakeholders, and execute seamless events! With this company it was important to seek out events for the next fiscal so preparation was key and handling a multitude of different events. I've developed a knack for juggling multiple tasks and ensuring everything runs like clockwork. I must admit, I initially felt a bit apprehensive about handling multiple events simultaneously, fearing I might overlook important details or compromise on quality. However, I developed a system that suited my workflow, enabling me to thrive in managing multiple tasks effectively. This approach not only eased my concerns but also empowered me to excel in my role.

Another challenge was navigating unexpected hurdles, such as last-minute changes to panelists, canceled events or technical glitches during events, which has tested my adaptability and problem-solving abilities. However, I've learned to remain calm under pressure and think creatively to find solutions, ultimately turning challenges into opportunities for growth.

Overall, my journey as an events assistant has been rewarding! By leveraging my accomplishments and overcoming obstacles, I've developed valuable skills and gained invaluable experience in the fast-paced world of events management. What was important for me to understand was these skills can be so versatile in whatever I choose to do. I'm excited to continue building on my accomplishments and tackling new challenges with confidence!

Reflection & Tips

Looking back on my role as an events assistant, I'm genuinely proud of what I've accomplished. I was truly thrilled to jump into the work and head to the office. It was a refreshing change from my previous position and was enjoyable. This role surpassed all my expectations and provided me with invaluable insights into the world of event coordination and planning.

Through hands-on experience and mentorship, I gained a deep understanding of the intricacies involved in managing events effectively. I learned to navigate the unknown with confidence and resilience, improving my problem-solving abilities and adaptability in the process. The skills I acquired are not only applicable to the events industry but also transferable to various sectors of work, underscoring the versatility and value of this experience.

Overall, this journey has been transformative, empowering me to tackle challenges head-on and achieve meaningful results. I am grateful for the opportunity to have grown both personally and professionally, and I am excited to continue applying these newfound skills and insights in my future endeavors!

Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

Reflecting on my journey delving into project management and event coordination, I've come to realize that the most valuable aspect of this experience was the mentorship I received.

The mentorship and guidance I received in this position were truly invaluable. I felt fully supported and guided through every challenge I faced. This support helped me navigate through rough patches and acquire skills and knowledge that I hadn't possessed before. It reignited my confidence in my abilities and fueled my desire to excel. The positive reinforcement I received motivated me to truly put that extra effort into my work.

It played a pivotal role in my professional growth during this co-op term. It transformed my outlook and instilled in me a fresh determination to succeed. I'm immensely grateful for the guidance and support from my supervisor. Remember that there are supportive leaders out there who will provide you with the assistance you need. It's important to understand the type of leadership that brings out your best and to recognize your own needs when seeking support.

Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

Like many 20-somethings, I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do with my career. As a communications major with a diverse range of interests, I found myself exploring various fields without a clear direction. However, one thing I did know was that I enjoyed planning and organization. Despite my uncertainty, I embraced the opportunity to delve into the world of event management during my co-op term as an events assistant.

This experience provided me with valuable insights and connections to my academic studies and future aspirations. It allowed me to apply my communication skills effectively in coordinating and executing successful events. From crafting clear communications for stakeholders to liaising with team members and external partners, I discovered how my academic background in communications could be translated into practical skills in event management.

Moreover, the hands-on experience gained during my co-op helped me refine my career goals. It gave me a clearer understanding of the type of work environment and tasks that resonated with me. One important realization I had is that the skills learned at any job can be applied to various fields. Especially in office jobs, these skills are invaluable and serve as a solid foundation for future projects! Whether it's communication skills, organizational abilities, or problem-solving techniques, the lessons learned in one role can seamlessly transfer to different career paths.

Understanding the transferability of skills has been crucial in shaping my career aspirations. It has opened my eyes to the versatility of my capabilities and gave confidence in my ability to adapt to new challenges. Regardless of the specific industry or role, I now recognize the importance of continuous learning and skill development.

Advice for Future Students

For future students entering the workforce, I can't stress enough the importance of what a good supervisor or mentor could do for you. Having someone experienced to guide you through challenges and offer valuable insights can make all the difference. A mentor can provide advice, share their experiences, and help you navigate the ups and downs of your chosen field. In my journey, having a mentor/supervisor encouraged me to push myself further and strive for excellence. Positive reinforcement plays a crucial role in any occupation you might find yourself in – it fuels your motivation and fosters growth. So, seek out a mentor who can support you along the way. 

Additionally, remember that the skills you learn in any job are highly transferable. Whether it's communication, problem-solving, or time management, these skills will serve you well in various roles and industries. Don't underestimate the value of each experience – even seemingly unrelated jobs can provide valuable lessons and shape your professional growth.

Lastly, believe in yourself and your abilities, no matter what. There may be times when others doubt you or try to put you down, but it's essential to have confidence in your work and your potential. Stay resilient, keep pushing forward, and trust in your abilities to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals!