Through her dedication to Red Canari, Ingrid Kaffka (she/her) is the recipient of the 2021 Arts Co-op Student of the Year Award! Kaffka, a fourth-year Arts student in the Rhetoric, Media and Professional Communication (RMPC) program, shares her experience working at Red Canari and tells us what the key to becoming successful in your co-op role is.
For her first two work terms, Kaffka worked as a technical writer at the University of Waterloo and JSI Telecom. She then went into her third co-op, where she worked as a marketing associate at Red Canari.
“Some of my responsibilities included writing brochures, case studies, social media posts, infographics, and just a whole host of copy for all of the industries that we serve and all of the services that we provide,” says Kaffka. “That was some of my day-to-day responsibilities, on top of managing our social media platforms that range from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.”
“Since I was the first co-op student at Red Canari, I was able to boost our social media presence by 388%, because the social media presence was virtually non-existent before I joined Red Canari. I posted every day to make sure that we upped engagement.”
“I was responsible for writing a grant to the federal government that supported our expansion into the United Kingdom market. I had to conduct a lot of research and consultations with third-party stakeholders, as well as discuss with my supervisor and the CEO to ensure the application was the best that it could be. In the end, it was around 20 pages, but I was successful in obtaining $30,000 to support our expansion into the United Kingdom market.” During her time at Red Canari, Kaffka also curated a pitch deck to secure seed investments for a new product, handled outreach to develop the company's new website and created a marketing playbook to support the company's brand/marketing plan.
Currently, Kaffka is completing her fourth co-op at Environment and Climate Change Canada, where she is working as a policy analyst.
Q: How important do you think it is to have a supervisor that provides mentorship?
A: “My supervisor at Red Canari and I still keep in touch to this day. The day I left Red Canari he provided me with so many opportunities and he connected me to my current co-op position because of our established rapport. He made me realize how important it is to network and helped me better understand where I want to go in my career.”
“He always said Red Canari needed me more than I needed Red Canari and he just wanted to propel me to the next level. He always wanted to support me in my aspirations and where I wanted to go in life. So, it's really important to develop a really close relationship with your supervisor and network with your fellow colleagues at your co-op position because you never know where they could take you, with the company or not, they'll always be willing to help you if you develop that relationship.”
Q: Is there any advice you would provide to Arts students looking for co-ops?
A: “I always say to make the most out of the co-op experience by applying to positions you don't necessarily have experience in because, in my experience, I applied for a technical writer, I applied for a marketing associate, and now I'm a policy analyst. I don't necessarily have experience in all of those three things specifically, but my soft skills and a few hard skills that I've learned throughout my co-op experiences have helped me obtain each of those positions.”
“Advice that I would give is to always apply to a position, even if you don't have the experience, because you never know what you'll learn. You'll never know what you can show in the interview because your soft skills are always enough and the hard skills you can learn later. It's always important, once you obtain the position, to take the initiative, ask questions, become a leader in your role and not be afraid to jump in and hit the ground running. I think that's the most important thing.”
Q: How does it feel to win the 2021 Arts Co-op Student of the Year Award?
A: “My supervisor nominated me for the award. Afterward, I began filling out the personal statement and we met to reflect on all of my accomplishments. In that moment, we both realized that I might actually win.”
“I was really surprised when I did win because I'm really familiar with the program. [...] Seeing previous Art students win and just seeing their accomplishments, I always just thought that my accomplishments didn't amount to that level. It's really nice to be recognized for everything that I accomplished and also everything that I've accomplished in my previous co-op terms. I want to thank my three previous supervisors that I've had in co-op because I wouldn't be here without them. It is rewarding to be recognized among the five other female award recipients in how we are all contributing to breaking the glass ceiling in our respective fields of study.”
Here are some words Ingrid would like to share about her co-op experience at Red Canari:
Co-op gives you the opportunity to experience job positions that you might not have ever considered trying. As Kaffka mentioned, it’s important to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new because you never know where it may lead you. #inspiredWIL