by Tharangi Uthayakumar
Contacting my student advisor was my last resort after being unemployed months into the co-op job search process. At least, that’s what I thought until I got in touch with my student advisor at the time. I quickly found out there was an extensive support network available to me year-round.
A student advisor was crucial in supporting me early on. I had gone through the interview process but found myself unemployed one month into my work term. I tried to find a job on my own during this time, while continuing to think about what more I could be doing to secure employment.
Diane McKelvie is the student advisor who assists co-op students employed by the University of Waterloo. She finds herself juggling two sets of students: those on a work term and those who are still seeking employment. The day-to-day tasks depend on the students they are supporting and the month of the term.
“The first and fourth months are spent in the office supporting students who haven’t secured a job, as well as preparing for upcoming work site visits,” says McKelvie. She provides support for students doing an independent job search or using WaterlooWorks to arrange jobs that fit their career aspirations.
While I was unemployed, I decided to get in touch with my student advisor at the time, who shared helpful suggestions on how to land a co-op job, as well as other opportunities available to me. She told me about flex terms and possible volunteer openings to meet my work term requirements – things that never even crossed my mind until I spoke to her.
In contrast, McKelvie says student advisors spend the second and third months visiting students at their workplaces. “This winter term, I will meet about 125 students and their managers,” she says. Each visit is unique, with a different conversation happening depending on the level of their work term. Student advisors are there to help you, especially when working in an unfamiliar location or with a limited support group.
This term, instead of waiting to contact my student advisor, I did so early in the term. I went in with no set topic in mind. Despite this, I came out of our meeting thinking about my short-term objectives in this co-op term and long-term career goals after graduation.
Go in prepared to discuss specific topics, or don’t, but you will come out with deeper insight from your student advisor.