Spring 2023 co-op convocation spotlight

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

by: Isabella Deak

Waterloo's graduating Warriors reflect on their co-op journeys while embracing the future.

We interviewed students who are preparing to graduate this week and asked them to reflect on their co-op journey, professional achievements and plans for the future.

Breanna DeFreitas (she/her)

Discovered that the Faculty of Environment is where her future lies and plans to return to Waterloo this fall to pursue her master's degree.

Breanna DeFreitasSince you're graduating soon, could you reflect on the role co-op played in your Waterloo journey?

"Graduating, and co-op, is a culmination of five long years of work. I started at Waterloo for Computer Science originally. That was not where my passion lay, so, I transferred into Geography and Environmental Management. That's what I’m graduating from today."

Looking back on my experience, I would have to say that co-op was absolutely the highlight for me.

"I've grown so much through all my various job experiences, being in the workforce, understanding what that means, and working with employers from all different areas."

"Being able to say that I have had multiple job offers for full-time positions due to co-op has been something that I wouldn't have imagined back when I first started five years ago."

Can you reflect on what it felt like to be one of the Co-op Student of the Year winners for 2022 and how it’s going to help as you graduate?

"It was completely unexpected! My employer saw the performance evaluation sheet where if they give you an outstanding performance evaluation, you can nominate the co-op student for the Co-op Student of the Year award. It's very validating that your work and your experience had an impact large enough to receive this award. All the contributions that Waterloo students are making are something that's impressive to me and something that I'm proud to be a part of."

Ingrid Kaffka (she/her)

Translated her passion for technical writing into a full-time position as a technical proposal writer at aviation company, Brock Solutions.

Ingrid KaffkaDo you believe the work experience and the skills that you’ve gained through co-op have prepared you for your future career?

Because of co-op, I got to continuously learn and be involved in different projects that I wouldn't normally have had the opportunity to do within my scope of work responsibilities.

"I wouldn’t have been able to learn those skills in class because I was too busy with all my required courses, which didn’t always connect to what I wanted to do as a career."

What are your plans after graduation?

"I've been working as a technical proposal writer at an aviation company called Brock Solutions and I'm really enjoying it."

"Having that co-op experience on my resume, being Co-op Student of the Year and other volunteer activities that I did throughout my university experience, helped set me apart and get me a job."

Rachel Almaw (she/her)

Discovered her passion for research and plans to continue her academic journey by pursuing a master's degree.

Rachel AlmawDo you think the work experience and skills you've gained through co-op have prepared you for the future?

"During my co-op work terms, I found that I was able to apply concepts that I learned in the classroom. I thought these concepts were extremely specific to testable material, but I was able to apply them to real life."

I gained more experience and confidence in my knowledge and my place in these various institutions and companies.

"I found that my speaking abilities and my relationships improved and I had more of a desire to throw myself further into school."

Have you discovered a new passion through your work?

"Co-op helped me discover what research is. I was very much the type of person that thought research is just lab coats and experimenting. My co-op experience helped me pause my internal mind map of career planning stages and kind of helped me realize that this is where I want to be."

"Getting a master's degree and continuing research into racialized groups and equitable health care is setting the precedent for what's to come."

Lauren Miller (she/her)

Used her co-op connections and passion for public relations to secure a full-time job at D2L.

Lauren MillerCan you tell us a bit about your journey to secure a full-time job out of your co-op position?

"I started my job search in the new year and saw a job posting for D2L on the team that I had worked on during my co-op work term."

"I reached out to my former manager and she expressed a lot of interest in me coming back. So that's what spurred the process. My manager and I were both thrilled that it came up by happenstance that I happened to be looking for a job at the same time they were looking for new talent. It worked out to be the perfect opportunity."

Do you have any words of advice for current co-op students who aim to secure a  future job from their co-op positions?

I recommend prioritizing your relationships and continuing to foster them, even when you're no longer at the place of employment.

"Don't get discouraged. If you haven't found your dream job just keep trying new things and keep putting yourself out there. If I hadn't put myself out there and stumbled upon this role, I wouldn't have discovered my passion for public relations."