I want to share with prospective self-directed Co-op students – or even Co-op students in general who are having a hard time finding something that suits them – and what it took for me to find the near-perfect Co-op placement for my future career goals. As I am sure many students in these categories will know, searching for a Co-op job through online postings, either on the SFU myExperience website or any other job posting website, can be tedious. Before your desired work term, watching daily and constantly searching to find the jobs that relate to your interests or future career goals and then having to type up a tailored resume/cover letter for each one, is challenging and time-consuming, especially while handling a course load to boot. I went through this stressful situation for several weeks before a conversation with my Co-op coordinator led me to the genius idea of refreshing old connections and ultimately leading me to the dream Co-op job that was right under my nose the whole time.
Two years before the start of my first Co-op term, I, a sales associate for General Nutrition Center and part-time science student, met my now Co-op supervisor, Mahtab, who was then a front store manager and Natural Health Advisor at Pure Integrative Pharmacy in Fort Langley. I would visit Fort Langley 1-2 times per week to take my grandmother to her Naturopathic Oncology treatments which happened to be just above their partner, Pure Integrative Pharmacy. As an aspiring naturopath at the time, I was very interested in what Pure Pharmacy offered and thus spent considerable time there, speaking to Mahtab and other Natural Health Advisors. Now comes the part where I gained the “warm lead” that my meeting with my Co-op coordinator reminded me of; my family and I sparked a friendship between Mahtab and employees to the point where Mahtab offered to hire me. At the time I had other obligations to my current job and undergrad and thus basically said “Thank you anyway” and continued my way. Fast-forwarding to two years later when I'm nearing the end of my time at SFU and I have the sudden realization of this old connection. I then begin to work tirelessly to get together my cover letter and resume to bring to my old friend Mahtab, who now works out of the White Rock location as manager.
Long story short, Mahtab remembers me clearly and is so impressed with the effort and thoughtfulness I put into my CV and Co-op plan that she decides to get me started with the interview process right away. The interview process went smoothly; one interview on the phone with HR and one in-person interview with my supervisor. I prepared beforehand by practicing interview questions found on the OLC and I do believe it helped me substantially. Although I already knew much about the store and products and was friendly with Mahtab, there were specific interview questions asked to me such as, “How does my previous experience relate?” that required more attention to detail to answer. Therefore, doing some rehearsal beforehand and having point form answers to questions written down in front of me went a long way, and ultimately landed me the job for three full work terms. To this day, I am highly grateful for my Coordinator Marion who counseled me so well, reminding me to return to my roots, and of course to Mahtab, my favourite manager of all time who so graciously believed in me and allowed me to flourish as a Natural Health Advisor. All in all, my message to prospective Co-op students is to look at what connections you may have made along the way of finding or pursuing your future career goals. In other words, “never burn your bridges; always remain close to those who share your vision because - as they did for me - your past experiences can yield the greatest opportunities.