Vrushti Trivedi (she/her), a Waterloo Arts alumnus, dives deep into all five of her co-op roles and shares how she managed to work part-time during her study terms as an international student.
Trivedi graduated in April 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Waterloo. She was in the Arts and Business program, with a major and Research Intensive Specialization in psychology, a computing option minor and a global experience certificate.
During her time spent at Waterloo, she was able to secure positions for all five of her co-op terms.
For her first co-op term, she worked at a healthcare startup, called Maple, where she worked as a client success specialist.
“They are a platform for requesting online doctor visits. So, anything related to medical dermatologists or mental disorders you can request that 24/7 through that platform,” explains Trivedi.
During this role, Vrushti was responsible for responding to customer requests to make sure that everything was operating smoothly. Because this organization was a startup, she was also able to take on multiple roles.
“I was leading and managing one of the onboarding projects where we were creating an onboarding training curriculum for new employees. I was also working with the business development team to conduct market research and analyze the competitive landscape. Additionally, I also had the opportunity to work with key performance indicators to support the marketing team.”
Her second work term was spent as a production specialist for Flipp, a phone application that collects all flyers and coupons from retailers and brands in North America. In this role, she was responsible for gathering information from various websites, indexing it and generating digital flyers for the app.
“The Flipp work culture was amazing; we had events every week and tons of opportunities to socialize and network with colleagues from cross-functional teams. Flipp offered several perks including transit passes, free breakfast and snacks, recreational equipment including video games, mini golf, pool, and ping pong, Friday lunches, and other Lunch and Learn events. The endless mentorship opportunities at Flipp helped me cultivate a solution-focused mindset that I was able to create a solution to cut down the processing time for flyer generation by making the process more efficient. I learned several meaningful skills and made long-lasting connections this term.”
Trivedi’s last three co-op terms were spent at the Bank of Montreal on different teams.
Work term 3: compensation analyst for the Wealth Management Portfolio
“I was responsible for recommending compensation packages for new hires and analyzing the current compensation packages based on the industry and market values across different companies, within the same industry, across the same roles. I was ensuring that we are able to retain top talent by providing them with the incentives that are required”
Work term 4: business analyst within Technology and Operations
“We were working to analyze different processes and make sure that things were more efficient. I was within Fraud Management, so any fraud management-related processes that we had within the bank, our team was responsible for analyzing, reviewing, auditing and trying to create business proposals for a better technology solution. We would meet with the technology team to create the proposals and propose them to our executives.”
“I was also the leader of the Social Squad at BMO, which is a community of interns that organizes and plans events for other interns. We were organizing events for over 200 interns that were hired through the summer program in 2021, providing them with a platform to connect and enjoy their terms.”
Work term 5: technology analyst within Technology and Operations
Trivedi connected a lot with her manager during her last co-op term. It was only the two of them most of the time because the rest of the team was working on other projects.
“Unlike previous terms, this time around was on the other side, the technology side, and we were trying to understand the requirements that the business had and trying to create the products for them.”
Trivedi decided to continue working with the same team part-time while also completing her education.
How did you manage your time working part-time and doing school?
“That wasn’t the first time I was working part-time at school. When I started school in September 2017, I found a job that November. Since then, I have been working part-time while in school because, as an international student, I’m paying really high tuition. And then being from India, the currency exchange rate is really high, so that was a necessity in the beginning. With time, my goal was to not only succeed academically and socially but also become financially independent.”
“Juggling several different items in a day was hard to begin with, but I had to learn how to prioritize and become organized. I used a Google Calendar that had everything on it. I knew which minute of my time was going to be spent on what I had to do. Staying organized helped me balance my social and academic life.”
What were some main projects you worked on during your co-op terms?
“From my first co-op, the onboarding wasn’t structured and the training materials were all scattered. So, I took the initiative to my manager that we should work together and create an entire onboarding schedule and revamp everything.”
“I took on that project and I was able to develop some project management skills. I was also working with the full-time employees and the co-ops who were within my team and I was assigning them tasks and making sure that they were doing things on time. In the end, I was able to deliver the project on time.”
“It had a good impact on the team because the onboarding materials are better and more efficient. So, that was one of the projects that I think I left behind in the company and was able to impact the company to a great extent.”
What was the main highlight from your co-op terms?
“There was an event where the CEO of BMO, Darryl White, was going to be a speaker and everyone throughout the bank was invited to that event. The interns had the opportunity to record a video and submit one question to the CEO. If your question was good enough, and if you have a good enough record of being an intern, then you get an opportunity to speak with the CEO.”
“That was my highlight because I was selected out of 500 interns for that reward. I was given this golden opportunity to speak one-on-one with the CEO of BMO as an intern. That was the best moment for me and that is why I decided to go back to BMO because that is an honor and I felt like I was really cared for.”
What is something you learned from your co-op roles that you will take with you moving forward?
“Whenever you're doing something, you always need to put 100% in if you want to succeed. And if you want to be recognized for the work that you're doing, you have to be dedicated to it and take responsibility for it.”
“It's not like, ‘I'm just here for four months,’ - it doesn't work like that. Whatever you do is going to be there (even after you're gone). So, trying to get into a new role, learning everything that you can, and at the same time, creating an impact on and being recognized for the work that I was doing, I learned how to be dedicated, more organized and how to communicate with everyone.”
What would be your advice for first-year co-op students?
“It does not matter what company or what role you are working for, as long as you apply for something that you're passionate about - it can be an entry-level role or a senior-level role. Just enjoy those four months and connect with people because you might not get that opportunity again. Just be there, be in the moment, and enjoy it.”
What’s next for you?
“Short term, I am working full-time as a business analyst so I hope to continue that. But in the future, I am looking into pursuing a master's degree after I get my permanent residency. Either a master's degree in organizational psychology or get an MBA a couple of years down the line, depending on where I am in the organization.”
“And if my goal is to climb up the corporate ladders, then I’d definitely do an MBA. But otherwise, I am interested in how things work in the organization in terms of people's psychology, so that is something that I would want to pursue”