I remember my hesitation in taking an interview so “close to home” at SFU—how safe it felt to be pursuing a position that did not seem to spring far from my daily academic career. My impression of co-op was that it was supposed to be a way in which to explore the challenging world outside of school; consequently, working at my school felt comfortable, and limited. Now that it has been four full months, my impression of co-op remains the same—but my impression of this position has taken an undeniable turn in the opposite direction. Each day of my role as the Communications Assistant for the FCAT Dean’s Office has been rewarding, particularly due to how closely related it was to my academic career. At this point, after a rewarding four months, it is impossible for me to think of my experience as limited.
As a Communication, Interactive Arts and Technology student, I am constantly exposed to the importance of networking, not only for the purposes of life after graduation, but throughout our university years. In a large institution like SFU, I have had access to technology that I would otherwise not have engaged with, as well as faculty members and trained staff that have proven to be vital resources while on the job. I know that these relationships will carry over to my academic and professional careers even when my work term is over. I have also met more senior students, alumni, students in other FCAT programs, and even students on the same path as I am. My interaction with them has multiplied my opportunities to collaborate with the brightest minds.
Through being Project Manager for the FCAT Undergraduate Conference and initiatives such as the FCAT Faculty interview videos, I have also been given the opportunity to work frequently with many of FCAT’s professors. Getting to know past and potential future professors, as well as the Dean and Associate Dean of FCAT has been an honour. Their passion has motivated me to further pursue research in my academics. I have even been presented with the opportunity to connect with external parties and important stakeholders, giving me further insight into how the university works as a whole. All of these connections have the potential to assist me even after my undergraduate degree, when it comes to references for a potential Master’s.
Beyond networking, I have also been able to expand my skill set while working for FCAT. Since January, I have been involved in event planning, event management, donor relations, alumni relations, student involvement, faculty/student interviews, advisor meetings, recruitment event and presentations, FCAT events, web design, graphic design, social media and writing articles. What I have gained, now, at over half way into my seven month term, is a uniquely well-rounded experience. I am thrilled that my first co-op term is within my own faculty at SFU.