Skip to main content
Beedie School of Business › International Business, Beedie School of Business › Human Resource Management
SFU Co-op Student

A head shot of Julie
...students who are currently deciding their career paths, may also find it useful to participate in a coop. Having the opportunity to test-run working in a professional setting, I do feel myself being more confident with my choice of career path

I am sure most of you at one point in time were or will have to make a major life decision: choosing a suitable career path. I remember asking myself more than a hundred times: “How do successful people choose their career path? Did/do they ever change their career? Do they ever regret what they had chosen? What did they do to gain experience?” and so forth. To me, these questions are very broad and the answers vary, depending on each person’s experience.

The following is a summary of the Q & A session led by a moderator with Julie- a coop student as one of the panellist.

Q: How did you choose your career path?

A: During my third Co-op term at Teck Resources Ltd. as a Human Resources Assistant Co-op Student, I was involved in the orientation day of a program called High School Work Experience. This program aims to provide high school students with unpaid week-long work experience at the office as part of their career preparation program. On orientation day, I was one of the two Co-op students who was invited to participate in a panel discussion with the high school students. We had the chance to share how we decided on our career paths, what advice we would provide to people who are searching for a suitable job, and share our thoughts about the Co-op program.

Q: How did you choose your career path? Were there any other careers that you were interested in?

A: When I came to Canada, I did not know which field I would like to build my career in. As my parents are business professionals, they suggested that I enroll in the Business program. Looking back at my own personal strengths, I could see myself as being passionate about helping people. I am good at building relationships, interested in observing people’s strengths and opportunities and if possible, help them to be better. This is one of the key reasons why I chose Human Resources (HR) as my career path.

For a long time, I was thinking about going into Hospitality. However, I did not feel I was ready to be involved in such an industry. Mainly because I thought my customer service skills would need to be developed further in order to follow that career path. If time permits, I may take some related courses or go to a networking event to learn more about the industry.

Q: What advice would you give to a student deciding on their career path?

A: Everyone has their own ways to find out which career path would be suitable for them. To me, working as an HR Assistant Co-op student has given me a chance to test and confirm whether Human Resources is a suitable career. Through self-evaluation as well as feedback from my supervisor and colleagues, I was also able to identify my strengths and opportunities, as well as which skills and abilities I would like to develop. This would help significantly in my career planning process once I have finished my degree and I am officially ready to step into the workforce.

Connecting with people who are starting their professional career search and sharing experiences is another way to explore what your options are. I learned more from branching out and going to different networking events than by doing online research. This does not mean that online research is unimportant. However, it would be more efficient if we could monitor our on-screen time to make valuable connections, which may lead us to more opportunities.

Q: What is Co-op? What did you have to do to join your Co-op program?

A: An oversimplified definition of a Co-op is “getting your foot in the door”. A better version of it is an opportunity for both you and your potential employers to explore and see if you are a fit for each other. What I realized is that working as a Co-op Student offers a “sneak- peak” to the professional world. This opportunity provides the answer to the question of whether the field, the industry and the career path is right for you.

Each institution would have a different Co-op Program and different requirements. Some universities require a minimum GPA or number of credits. Some offer a series of workshops that would help students prepare for Co-op terms. Getting in touch with the Co-op department of the school is a good way to keep yourself updated with the program requirements.

Q: What are the benefits of participating in a co-op?

A: There were three significant benefits that I saw after my co-op terms.

  1. First, having a co-op experience would differentiate you from other people holding an equivalent degree. This would be a major advantage to students stepping into the workforce.

  2. Second, during the term, I found that what I learnt in school makes sense, and the knowledge is applicable to professional settings.

  3. Third, coming back to school after the co-op work term, I  feel more confident with taking courses since I have had related experience and have seen different possible situations.

One of the things I found very helpful during my co-op time was that do not be afraid to ask why. We often so eager to learn the what and the how but sometimes we forget to learn why. By exploring the root of what has been done so far we can understand why things are the way they are, and maybe we might be able to come up with a better solution or a more effective execution for the current process. This is a great skill to have when stepping out to the workforce.

I believe not only high school students, but any students who are currently deciding their career paths, may also find it useful to participate in a coop. Having the opportunity to test-run working in a professional setting, I do feel myself being more confident with my choice of career path.

Beyond the Blog

  • Looking for a coop opportunity in the Business school? Start Here!

SFU Co-op Student
Connect with Julie on LinkedIn
visibility  170
Mar 19, 2020

You Might Like These... Prospective, Professional Development, Career Exploration

Co-op students jumping in the air
The Co-op Connection Helps Retention

In this blog post, Heather shares with us why co-op is an important experience for all students, whether it be to further career aspirations or to gain future employment opportunities. 

person sitting beside a gold lamp, writing something down in their journal
What Learning Objectives Can Do For You

A successful Co-op work term can involve many factors, one of which is developing and working towards meeting your learning objectives. Developing a learning objective helps you to think about what you want to accomplish during your upcoming work term and begin developing a plan for how you’ll achieve success.

Kamil on the phone, looking at the camera
Survival Guide 101: Keys to Office Survival

Welcome to Office Life 101. A wealth of friendly advice for the first time or inexperienced co-op student, and some advice as to what is required of you to not only survive, but to flourish in an office environment.

You Might Like These... Prospective

People attending a conference
The 3-Minute Co-op Competition: Day Two

On October 7th and 8th 2013, WIL hosted SFU's first Three Minute Co-op Competition. 31 students presented on their Co-op experience, competing for cash prizes. Read a recap of the final 15 presenters.

Sign board that says "this way" with arrows
The Art of (Not) Having It All Figured Out

Choosing a career is not about selecting an archetype (like ‘lawyer’, or ‘doctor’, or ‘teacher’), but about exploring who you are, what your skill set is, and what type of career will be a good fit for you. In this blog, I talk about letting go of the pressure to have it all figured out, and to instead embrace different ideas and explore different options to find a career that fits. 

Think Co-op Isn't For You? 4 Excuses You Need to Burn Right Now

As Emily Taylor, a senior Communication Co-op student says, "Reality check: a degree doesn’t guarantee a job. Vancouver communications, marketing and writing jobs aren’t waiting for you in the stands at Convocation. You’ve got to hunt for them, and Co-op is your open door. " Read on for compelling evidence of how Co-op can benefit you - regardless of what you've been led to believe!