I completed three work terms, the first was at BC Children's Hospital in the Respiratory Clinic working on new methods to diagnose asthma in young children using biological signal analysis. My second work term was at Columbia Containers in the Port of Vancouver where I helped in their transition to a new software system for grain sales and shipments, and I trained their staff at various locations across the Prairies on its use. My last co-op work term was at E-One Moli Energy Canada Ltd. which was the first manufacturer of rechargeable lithium batteries in the world, and I worked on various aspects of improving their lithium-ion cell designs for higher energy and power. After graduating from SFU, I worked at E-One Moli Energy full-time for almost two years and am currently a PhD student working on lithium- and sodium-ion batteries in Prof. Jeff Dahn's lab at Dalhousie University. In my current role as a graduate student, I not only get to work in our university lab but have had opportunities to collaborate with various companies.
Having the opportunity to create a resume and cover letters, apply to job postings, and go through the interview process are invaluable aspects of the co-op program. Co-op also showed me which types of work I like as well as those that I do not prefer. As well, through the interview process and working in different organizations, relationships and connections are built that can lead to opportunities down the road. For example, my work term at Columbia Containers was born out of an interview I had conducted in a previous term where I did not receive an offer but showed interest in their organization and remained in contact with them. Moreover, after graduating, it was easier to find a full-time position at E-One Moli Energy because I had previously worked there during co-op and knew the managers during the hiring process.
Consider co-op as a time of learning that will be useful in your future. Co-op provides you with tools that are not often taught in the academic environment and allows you to discover opportunities and careers that may have been unknown to you before. As well, you get an opportunity to work in a broad selection of organizations in various places around the world, where you can learn about new fields of work outside of your major and new places you may not have considered otherwise. After graduating, it is clear that those who participated in co-op have a much easier time applying for jobs and navigating the job market than those who did not. Give it a shot!