By Farah Hassan, Communications & Social Media Coordinator, Faculty of Environment
Veering off stream from her regular program and therefore unable to use Jobmine, Regan Zink faced the daunting task of finding her own first co-op placement. Defying the odds, the third-year planning student not only secured a job but did so with one of the largest planning firms in Ontario.
Taking the initiative isn’t new to Regan, who has volunteered over 150 hours for organizations like the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, the MCC Thrift and Gift in Elmira and the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. She is also involved with the Environment Student Society (ESS) and co-manages the ESS Coffee shop. If that doesn’t reflect her work ethic, what she accomplished at her first co-op job, will.
During her four-month placement at the Kitchener office of MHBC Planning, Regan wrote 15 proposals that secured the company more than $100,000. Bringing enthusiasm and a positive attitude to what some might consider a tedious task was the key to her success. “I really enjoyed proposal writing,” Regan told us. “It gave me the opportunity to learn about their past projects and history.” Instead of being bored by the task, Regan saw it as a good way to ease herself into the profession without feeling overwhelmed. “It was one of the best ways to learn what planning is.”
Regan’s efforts during her work term not only helped the company’s bottom line but also paved the way for future co-op students to find success. Taking the lessons she learned through trial-and-error, Regan developed the MHBC Student Manual, a comprehensive onboarding document. “I created it because when I started, I didn’t know who talk to get certain things done,” she explained. Now, the company will give Regan's manual to new co-op students joining the Kitchener office, which Regan hopes will help them have a smoother time.
While proud of the initiative she took and the relationships she established during her work term, Regan only learned of the financial impact of her efforts after her term was over. “When I asked them for a reference letter, it was in there, and I thought ‘Woah! That is a lot of money!’ ” Regan’s second surprise came later when she learned that the hard work, initiative and dedication had earned her the 2016 Co-op Student of the Year Award. “It’s a huge honour to receive this award because despite not being able to use Jobmine, I still made it work.”
Regan is among six students recognized by the University of Waterloo today for their contributions to co-operative education and their community.