I completed two co-op terms during my time at Simon Fraser, both in the insurance industry. My first role was with Manulife Financial in Waterloo, Ontario. My second role was with Sun Life Financial, also in Waterloo.
Nowadays I am working as a Senior Associate and Risk Transfer Specialist at Mercer Canada in Toronto. While my background is predominately in traditional retirement consulting, I have transitioned more recently into the risk transfer space. I currently lead our Canadian team overseeing annuity purchases for pension plan wind-ups.
The co-op program was instrumental in my journey, and I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. Like many students, most of my work experience prior to my co-op terms consisted of part-time and summer roles that had little to no relation to the industry I was eventually hoping to join. The co-op program allowed me to gain valuable experience and boost my resume prior to graduation. To this day, I continue to cross paths with many of the connections I made during my co-op terms.
Well it seems as if you’re already considering the first piece of advice that I always give students… i.e., join the co-op program! If it’s not clear by now, I highly recommend taking advantage of this excellent resource available to you as SFU student. I’ll also give two additional pieces of career advice.
First: Be open to all opportunities even if they aren’t exactly what you were initially looking for. Whether that be a job in an adjacent field or a role in a new city, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone will help you grow! The role within my firm that has pushed my career forward the most was one that I originally did not want to take. However, the skills I obtained in this role prepared me for the role I am in today and it was only possible since I was open to the opportunity.
Second: LinkedIn is your friend - utilize it to your advantage. Employers use LinkedIn as a recruiting tool, so it can easily lead to a job down the line. It is a convenient way to expand your network and helps you build your brand. Keep your profile up to date and try and add connections that you make along the way. For example, add me if you like... my inbox is always open if you ever have questions!