Securing a future in insurance

Nancy Aboulhoda (she/her), a third-year Science and Business student, provides insight and advice on working in the insurance industry at Definity Financial, one of the largest insurance corporations in Canada. Reflecting on her co-op journey, Nancy discusses the challenges she faced along the way, her current role as a campus ambassador and what makes Definity stand out from other companies.

Nancy’s co-op journey

Work term one: Nancy first started her co-op journey working for the University of Waterloo’s Information Systems and Technology (IST) department. As a migration specialist, she migrated and designed websites for various audiences, including the Faculty of Math and the Faculty of Science, using the Waterloo Content Management System (WCMS) program.

Work term two: At Definity, Nancy worked as a commercial insurance training and communications intern. In this role, she created onboarding courses for new hires and organized internal systems to enhance communication between departments.

Work term three: For her third co-op term, Nancy returned to Definity as an operations analyst. She used Excel to analyze data and create reports on the company's competitive landscape, clientele and profit margins.

Q&A with Nancy

Nancy Aboulhoda, a third-year Science and Business student, smiling.What is one thing you were curious to learn about in your organization?

“I was initially very curious about how the insurance industry operates from behind the scenes."

"Typically, when someone thinks about insurance, they usually think about getting insurance for their cars, homes or personal health. But there are so many other areas that are not well known, such as insurance dealing with businesses, schools, universities, community services and many more.”

“Getting to learn more about how the insurance industry operates from the back end was truly an eye-opening experience. It really made me love the insurance industry, and now I'm very passionate about it and I am planning to go back for a full-time position when I graduate.”

What sort of challenges did you have to face at Definity?

“Going into the insurance industry and Definity was very challenging. There were so many new topics and definitions to learn. I found it challenging to understand and recall the information being thrown at me. Looking back, I think that's where I benefited the most from my co-op, because of how knowledgeable I feel now about the insurance industry.”

“Another challenge that I faced was adjusting to a technical workplace during my operations analyst position. I had to work with Visual Basics for Application (VBA) to complete and create complex reports in Excel, which is something that I was not familiar with before. However, with the support of my managers and colleagues, and taking it day-by-day, I managed to create the reports on my own and understand the purpose of my work.”

What accomplishments are you proud of from this co-op term?

Nancy and her team pictured in a group photo for a charity event.“Working at Definity has opened many opportunities for me like being the company's campus ambassador this fall term for the University of Waterloo. I'm extremely proud of this accomplishment because I get to share my experience working in an insurance company like Definity and offer advice on tailoring resumes for insurance positions to co-op students."

“Finding a co-op these days is very challenging, so having someone inside helping you out can be very beneficial.”

What advice do you have for students looking to pursue a career in insurance?

“Honestly, the biggest tip I would give is the willingness and patience to learn more because the insurance industry is very big in Canada and there's a lot that goes into it. There are many departments, many definitions and lots of knowledge that you need to grasp. So, the more willing and motivated you are to learn, the more it will help you in the long run.”

Nancy Aboulhoda posing with three other co-op students.What was your favourite part about working at Definity?

“Working at Definity allowed me to make many meaningful relationships inside and outside of work."

"It is one of the few companies that brings out the best in their employees, which contributes to their positive working environment and that can be rare to find in other companies.”

“They recently participated in an insurance social event sponsored by multiple insurance companies across Canada. We got to learn more about insurance and hear from bigger insurance managers and their experiences in the industry. It was a fun networking event.”

“Definity also prioritizes its employees’ mental health and well-being. One of their slogans is ‘it's better here’, and it really is. They truly care about their employees in terms of growing and excelling in the company, which is what I love most about Definity and it’s one of the reasons I decided to return for multiple co-op terms.”

How do you facilitate a positive environment?

“I'm a firm believer in the idea that you reap what you sow. During my co-op terms, I always did my best to spread positivity by being respectful and kind to all my coworkers at Definity. They did not disappoint, as they were all even more kind, generous and respectful towards me. It all goes back to the idea that the grass is greener where you water it". 

“The energy you spread to the people around you is typically the same energy that you will receive. As such, it is always important to be positive and respectful to everyone you meet at the workplace.”

open quotation marks

It all goes back to the idea that the
grass is greener where you water it.

-NANCY ABOULHODA, Science and Business student

What’s next for you?

“Having completed my third co-op and having one more left, I am still learning more and more after each experience and will be forever grateful for everything that Definity and the University of Waterloo have taught me. When I graduate, I’m planning to work in the insurance industry full-time.”

Read our story on sustainability at Definity for more insight on how co-op students are making a positive impact. 

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