Kavya Gupta (she/her) is a second-year Math student whose introduction to co-op has allowed her to hone organizational skills and accounting skills as well as collaborate with and enjoy time alongside people on University of Waterloo’s campus.
Kavya's co-op journey:
For her first work term, Kavya worked at the University of Waterloo for the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) as an accounting and administrative intern. Here she managed all the cheque requests from the societies and provided various clubs with whatever they needed to operate.
Q&A with Kavya:
How satisfying was it to break into co-op for the first time, especially within a role at the university?
“It was really great. It was a good break from the two study semesters that I had and it was an opportunity to apply all the math skills that I learned into the practical world.”
“I never knew my math skills could be so handy in an accounting atmosphere where it was really helpful to do so.”
“I could apply all the studies that I had used into what my manager was explaining to me and I could make an educated guess to something if I didn't fully understand.”
“I'm very lucky as well because this first co-op was at the university itself, so I'm making a lot of great connections with people here.”
“The staff at WUSA is very friendly and they're very eager to help you if you face any challenges and they're always helping undergraduate students.”
“Learning how WUSA works and how the university works for its undergraduate students, it’s pretty cool.”
As a student who just finished first year, what was it like to join the organization that specializes in the lives of undergraduate students like us?
“During my first year study semesters, and being an international student, I faced a lot of challenges and WUSA was a great support system.”
“They had a series of international meets and other social events where you could meet other people. That resource was great.”
“Being a student working for the organization that works for the students, I can apply my experience and knowledge of being an undergraduate to WUSA to improve it, so it can continue to work wonders for students.”
Did you feel like you could put into the role, the same experience that WUSA gave you in first year? How were you able to reflect that back into your work for them?
“It helps me look at various perspectives for sure. Working in the accounting team, managing cheque requests from the societies and providing for the clubs, I got a feel for how much WUSA covers.”
“Two hundred fifty clubs are a lot and I fielded all of them, so applying my experiences as a student helped me as an employee.”
Were you involved in any special events over the course of your first term?
“One event that happened internally was the retirement party of a colleague. We had it in the Graduate House about three weeks after I started, so I didn’t know many of the people there but it was a great way to meet other teams within WUSA such as the marketing and orientation teams.”
“Getting to know more people and network with them was great. You have discussions within the office but not so much outside of it, it was an event that was personal.”
“The accounting team would also take part in food truck Wednesdays as well, so little things like that were great. We had a chance to connect and discuss life.”
“As far as clubs were concerned, I wasn’t a part of the activities per se, I was more in the background taking care of the finances. I made sure that the clubs had all the right equipment ready for their sessions.”
There was a lot of organization involved with your role. How did you keep track of everything and what advice can you give to students regarding how important it is?
“I like to keep my email organized. I've created a folder and I keep track of the emails that I have looked at and I sort them. There's a separate folder for all the emails that I have gone through and then the ones which I have a problem with, or ones that require a follow up. Those ones, I will star so that I know there needs to be action taken for them so I don’t lose track.”
“A lot of my work also includes dealing with paperwork, so I make sure that all of it is well sorted too. If something needs to go into the filing cabinet, I make a separate file, or if something needs to get approved by my manager or my supervisor, I keep them in a separate stack. That helps me organize any of the papers that I require.”
How would you describe the culture of WUSA to a co-op student who's also looking for a position at the university?
“It's very homely. The people are very friendly and they're always there to support you.”
“If my manager is unable to answer any of my questions if she's away, you can always count on other people and they always make me feel welcomed.”
“They make sure that whatever I have to say is also taken into consideration, they don't neglect me as a co-op student. They make sure that whatever insights I have to give are also incorporated into whatever decision they're making.”
“The dress code is also casual because it's student facing, so we don't want students to be intimidated by a non-casual appearance.”
“They'll also understand if you need time to spend on your wellness, you can take that bit of time to do so.”
“If I hadn't been at the university this semester, I wouldn't have been able to participate in many of the events happening around campus. I had a lot more time to explore the university and see it in a different light from what I’m used to in study terms.”
What do you envision being next for you on this journey? How would you want to build future co-op roles into a possible career?
“Recently, I developed the interest in actuarial science, which is a major in mathematics.”
“I would like to explore that industry a little bit and get to know about all the practical work that takes place.”
“Ideally in that case, my next co-op term will give me the chance to dive into an actual insurance company and explore that industry along with taking the transferable skills that I have learned from this co-op term with me.”