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SFU Co-op Student

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Ryan Kitching
Being able to effectively work in a team environment, consulting with others on multiple projects at once, is an important skill that will help me in all my future endeavours.

Walking through the lobby of the Lester B. Pearson building in Ottawa this morning, I paused to reflect on how important SFU’s Co-op program has been to me. Through Arts Co-op, I landed a position which has helped me bridge the gap between education and the workforce, and has also provided me with valuable experience working in the Canadian public service.

During my time at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) [now Global Affairs Canada], I’ve been involved in everything from writing speeches and researching business opportunities, to planning and organizing summit meetings. The wide variety of tasks I’ve undertaken and the experience I’ve gained from completing them has enriched my abilities in ways that would not have been possible without co-op.

Much of the work I do centers around several core skills: research and writing, analyzing and synthesizing information, and most important, communication. Examples of my more regular tasks include: researching and composing briefing notes for meetings or events, and following the news in order to maintain and distribute an information tracking database.

While I have gained valuable training from these tasks, my communication skills have definitely benefitted the most from working at DFAIT. Being able to effectively work in a team environment, consulting with others on multiple projects at once, is an important skill that will help me in all my future endeavours. As an International Studies MA student focusing on China, my background and education are directly related to the work I am doing, and my previous knowledge and experience have proven to be great assets while working at DFAIT. At the same time, I chose DFAIT because the position was a perfect opportunity to test my career plans; prior to co-op, this is where I saw myself working in the future, and I wanted to make sure that vision had merit. As I walk out of my workplace into the latest Ottawa snowstorm, I am happy to say the test was a complete success.

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