How co-op led me to product management

Ravicha Ravinthiran, a fourth-year Science and Business student, recaps her journey with co-op and finding full-time employment as a Product Manager. She also shares her advice on the process of finding a job.

Ravicha’s co-op journey

An image of Ravicha

Work term 1: At RBC Financial Group, Ravicha held the position of Design Researcher. She was responsible for improving the user experience of mobile banking products through conducting user research and presenting her findings. 

Work term 2: Ravicha worked at Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) as a Business Agility Analyst. She worked on building automated dashboards to analyze the impact and growth of the company’s training workshops. 

Work term 3: Ravicha also worked at Abbott Diabetes Care as a Commercial Excellence Analyst. She led their onboarding improvement project which was budgeted at over $200,000. 

Work term 4: During her last school year, Ravicha used WaterlooWorks to connect with Smile Digital Health to secure a role as Product Analyst. This role was the perfect combination of science and business and helped her explore her interests in product management.


Q & A with Ravicha 

 Q: How did you manage working part-time while on a study term?

A: “To be quite honest, it was quite overwhelming at times, but it comes down to practice, discipline and understanding what your priorities are. I love hanging out with my friends but learning how to say no is a really important skill as well. At the end of the day, it’s really important to figure out what balance means to you and not burn yourself out.” 

An image of Ravicha with her colleagues


An image of Ravicha

Q: What was your biggest achievement at a co-op job?

A: “My biggest achievement was at Abbott Diabetes Care because it was the first co-op where I was able to integrate both science and business. I am really passionate about healthcare technology given the impact it has on improving the quality of life for those with a certain diagnosis. My grandmother uses their product as well to manage her diabetes, so it was definitely a full-circle moment."

"I was able to lead the onboarding improvement project to improve the experience of new employees given the shift to virtual during COVID-19. Through doing user research and connecting with new and seasoned employees, I was able to understand how to better equip and develop a training program that worked best for them in this new environment. In return, they were able to provide a better experience for our end-users who were individuals like my grandmother.” 


Q: Do you recall facing challenges during any of your co-op terms?

An image of Ravicha A: "I was working at my first co-op when the pandemic started which forced us to switch to working from home. As someone who is very social, this was very challenging as we weren’t able to interact in the same way. It was challenging to ask for help and everyone’s calendars were always overbooked. I overcame this challenge by joining my co-op's social committee and effectively using my 1:1s to ask for help and understand who the “experts” were for specific areas just in case I needed to reach out and ask for support.” 

An image of Ravicha with her colleagues

Q: What did you like about the culture of one of your co-ops?

A: “At Abbott, the entire company really valued the importance of mental health. They made a constant effort to incorporate initiatives such as mental health days, where all of us would take part in various activities such as a pasta-making event, yoga and a virtual escape room. Our team also did a nature hike around Hilton Falls which was quite relaxing and a great bonding experience as well.” 


Q: What advice do you have for incoming co-op students?An image of Ravicha with her colleague

A: “Always have an open mind when you are applying to your first co-op. This is the time to figure out what you like and dislike, so apply to any positions that seem interesting to you.” 

“I applied to the maximum number of co-op positions in my second year, which helped me figure out which roles were more appealing to me and what skillset employers were looking for. It took me a few rounds to get my first interview, so don’t worry too much if you aren’t actively hearing back from employers. Don’t be afraid to apply outside of WaterlooWorks and network because you never know when the perfect opportunity may come up.”

Q: What’s next for you?

A: “I’m currently a Product Manager on the Global Wealth team at CGI. They recently launched a new grad rotational program that seemed like an amazing opportunity to explore my interests further, similar to co-op.  I’ve also really been interested in entrepreneurship and am currently working on Saree Switch which is a sustainability start-up revolving around South Asian fashion with the support of UC Greenhouse."

"Earlier this year, I got my real-estate license and am super excited to start this new journey as well.  Outside of work and school, I love traveling so I can’t wait to plan more trips and explore the world with my best friends. Fingers crossed that our schedules finally align now that we’re all graduating this term.”