Making meaningful contributions through project management

University of Waterloo Arts co-op student, Headshot of Laura smilingLaura Kwan, a fourth-year Arts and Business, Legal Studies and Sociology student, shares how she developed an interest in project management through co-op.

Laura started off her first co-op term at the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade as a Client Services Assistant. “We hosted a lot of events where international delegations would come," says Laura. "It’s very interesting to see that because I got first-hand experience to really understand what people in the government did. I got to see a lot of my co-workers organize these events and put together something to make sure that people are interested in investing in Ontario. We have to make sure that we're continuously developing the economy.” 

Laura then switched gears for her second co-op term, which was an 8-month co-op at Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation (EDC) as a Business Development Officer. Her role was to ensure that they were attracting investment opportunities to Waterloo Region. They were continuously doing lead generation and working on business development strategies to make sure that they were tracking different types of opportunities. 

“Feeling rewarded or having that rewarding experience is key because it motivates you to find another job and to continue to contribute to your organization.”


Highlights from Waterloo EDC 

“I really liked how my employer gave me the opportunity to develop my project management skills," says Laura. "Some employers don't have the ability to do that because their responsibilities are very structured, whereas at Waterloo EDC they asked me what I would like to learn and gave me the opportunity to do so.” 

Picture taken while Laura went on a hike

Project management at Waterloo EDC 

“They did give me work where I was the project manager. I had projects where I managed the entire thing from the initiation phase all the way to the closing phase. I gave presentations to the team and the entire organization to give them my findings and the results of the project, which is really cool. It's very interesting because some organizations don't give students that type of opportunity. I actually felt like I was contributing to the organization, because one of my projects, they took the outcome and are actually applying it to their organization.”


How do you think working at the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development has helped you develop yourself? 

“In terms of professional experience, I would say this gave me public sector experience, which is great because you get to see how things work in the government. Personally, I would say it gave me the experience to really understand how everything works. For example, the different types of jobs that are available within the ministries. When I was working there, I actually interacted with tons of people from other ministries that I didn't even know were a part of the provincial government. So, it's really cool to see that.”