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Charlize De Leon

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

My experience at QMUNITY has been wonderful so far. I would encourage any future students wanting to apply for a position here to go for it! The team has been supportive and encouraging, which I feel has a great influence on how you feel at work.
Experience Details
Introduction + Preparation

Before my first day at QMUNITY, I had no prior experience in event planning. My only work experience in the last four years has only been in retail positions which I felt had at least given me some skills applicable to any industry. Before my first day, I did some research on QMUNITY's website and social media. Doing so helped me gauge the kind of work and projects they do. During my interview, it was mentioned that someone in this role would play a big part in the company's Summer of Love campaign so I spent a little extra time reading up on that.

Preparation Tips for Future Students

For future students wanting to apply for QMUNITY, I highly recommend having extensive knowledge of the 2SLGBTQIA+ experience! A big part of this position relies on understanding the needs and challenges that queer, trans, and Two-Spirit folks experience throughout the province. Having this kind of knowledge (or personal connection) will not only help with your performance in the role but also with the interview!

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

My orientation and onboarding were engaging and well-paced. My role did not require too much technical training since I was already familiar with the platforms that we use daily (Google Workspace). My first week mainly consisted of reading up on company policies and familiarizing myself with company culture. A unique part of my onboarding was engaging with media and content regarding the context and history of pride celebrations throughout time. Engaging with these pieces of media helped me further understand the reasons why we were doing our Summer of Love campaign.  Moreover, the media I watched would help inform my decisions when it came to planning for some of our summer events. Throughout my first month, I was advised to set up coffee chats with everyone in the office. Since the team at QMUNITY is fairly small, most of the work we do is collaborative and will end up overlapping with one another. Aside from that, getting to know the team one-on-one helped me settle into the new environment faster. These chats were also helpful in getting to know my role more since some of the staff worked closely with the previous Pride Coordinators and offered tips and know-how to make the job easier. 

Day to Day

I would say that my day-to-day routine changes every month. From January to March, my daily tasks would be primarily related to planning while my routine from April to August will be more focused on coordinating. So far, during my first few months, I start my day by checking emails and any Slack messages that I might have. From January to February, I spend most of my days researching pride societies or associations around BC. For this year's Summer of Love campaign, we specifically wanted to visit communities in BC that were smaller and further away from the lower mainland. Our goal was to reach out to more 2SLGBTQIA+ folks in smaller and more rural communities in BC to let them know that our programs and services are available to them. After researching and compiling a list of potential locations to visit, I narrowed it down with my manager to some final contenders.  After creating the finalized list, I started reaching out to the pride associations in these areas to ask about potential collaborations for the campaign and their timelines for this year's events. As of right now, I am consistently communicating with these associations to confirm and finalize our participation in their events. By June I expect my daily routine to change as I will be tabling at a good number of these events as well as coordinating for staff and volunteers.       

Learning and Adaptation

I was informed when I started that it was the first time that Q has had a pride outreach coordinator in their position this early on in the year. The previous coordinators started in June or July, so I'm pretty glad that I started in January and had plenty of time to settle in. That being said, the pride coordinators from previous years left guides and tips which I have found very helpful as I am constantly referring back to them. I felt that one of the most important skills to possess in this position is organization which was also emphasized by my co-workers. As things are starting to pick up at this point, I could not agree more. While some of the tasks are repetitive (i.e. applying to vendors at pride events), each event will have its own unique needs and requirements that you will need to track. Each event usually has different preferences when it comes to tabling materials or methods of payment for application. When it comes to coordinating these variations, Google Sheets has become my best friend. Google Sheets has helped me keep track of event dates, application deadlines, payment methods, and general information for each event. Maintaining everything on one document has made it easier for me when I need to quickly refer back to the master sheet for any information. Moreover, the platform has helped keep the team that I work with organized. Having a shared Trello board has allowed me to make updates and changes to information while also simultaneously updating the team. I am quite happy with the system that I have set up and I hope it will help me work with little to no issues during the busy summer months. 

Accomplishments and Challenges

An accomplishment that I have been proud of is my contribution to creating a slogan for our Summer of Love campaign. To briefly explain, the campaign allows QMUNITY to travel throughout BC during the summer and outreach our services to numerous communities and events. One of my first tasks at Q was to create a slogan that could be used for a campaign. This slogan would be displayed on our website and social media, and would be modelled after in the swag that we give away at some of the events. Creating a slogan had some challenges since I needed to create one that would accurately represent our goals for this year's campaign while also representing the folks that we serve. After creating the slogan I was able to see our Communications Coordinator bring my ideas to life by designing social media templates and swag which felt incredibly rewarding!

Reflection & Tips
Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

A unique activity that my team would regularly was picking a piece of educational media for all of us to interact with and reflect on. How it would work is that once a month, a member of the team picks a piece of media (documentary, article, podcast episode). The rest of the theme would then have two weeks to watch or listen to the piece, and at the end of the two weeks, we would meet and discuss what we’ve learned. This has not only helped me with the way that I perceive and act with the people around me. But has also helped inform me on the different ways I can improve the work that I do. 

Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

With my newly gained experience, I would love to try an event planning position again in the future. The work is quite engaging and I would be interested to experience this role outside of a non-profit. However, for my last co-op term, I would like to try working for a different sector to see the differences and narrow down what I'm looking for in a career. A bonus for me was finding out that some of my coworkers studied communications when they were in school! They shared some of their experiences and paths they took after finishing their degree which I felt helped me gain a better idea of potential career paths. I have found some of my projects from previous communications classes to be very helpful. The communications classes that have covered interviewing and qualitative research have helped when it came to planning engagement sessions that we'll be coordinating with some pride organizers this summer.

Advice for Future Students

My experience at QMUNITY has been wonderful so far. I would encourage any future students wanting to apply for a position here to go for it! The team has been supportive and encouraging, which I feel has a great influence on how you feel at work. As mentioned earlier, being knowledgeable in the 2SLGBTQIA+ experience is helpful as is being open to learning. The team here is always sharing educational resources and events which have been super interesting to engage with and reflect on. Lastly, to the future students planning to apply, clear out your calendar for the summer! The summer months will involve traveling almost every weekend to different parts of BC to attend pride events. If you're reading this and planning to apply to QMUNITY, good luck!