Celebrating National Work Integrated Learning (WIL) month
By: Krista Henry (she/her)
“We aim to spread the passion for our work with young, bright minds. That passion we help foster, multiplied by their talent, creates incredible candidates that help bring our company and the industry to the next level,” says Angelo Gonzales (he/him), recruitment, people & culture specialist at Kenna.
A provider of marketing solutions in customer experience management, Kenna has hired co-op students for over 20 years. Their roles include data management assistant, SQL developer and business intelligence developer. Gonzales provides insights in how they have attracted early talent for over two decades.
How does hiring University of Waterloo co-op students help with your recruitment and talent strategy?
Our longevity and success are entirely attributable to our bright and energetic people who are excited every day to make a difference. We aim to spread that passion for our work with these young, bright minds. That passion we help foster, multiplied by their talent, creates incredible candidates that help bring us and the industry to the next level. During their work terms, we get a chance to dig deep into everyone's natural aptitudes and unlock the potential and passion they all possess. This investment we put into our co-ops help shape them into incredible, innovative and ingenious individuals. Therefore, we are confident that every student we bring onboard as a full-time employee has everything it takes to thrive here.
Co-op also helps us boost our brand among universities, ensuring that fresh graduates keep us in mind when looking for a company to start their careers with. In fact, many of our current full-time employees came from our co-op program.
How do you ensure a successful co-op work term for your organization and the co-op student?
We ensure an enjoyable and enriching co-op journey by treating our students as our own. The moment they join us, they are not students or strangers, they are Kennadians. They do not do busywork or menial labour. They get hands-on experience on large projects vital to our work. They collaborate with us as partners in transforming the work we do with our clients. We are here to build passion.
We guide our co-ops every step of the way, ensuring that they learn exactly what they set out to learn and what they set out to experience. As much as we would like to prepare them for a career at Kenna, our true focus is preparing them for the business world.
We aim to develop as many transferable skills as we can, especially those that can help them in the exact career path they desire.
Our co-ops work and learn intimately with their teams. Every co-op has a dedicated mentor that conducts daily check-ins, answers questions, supports them in their responsibilities and helps them understand how what their University of Waterloo education translates to their work. With Kenna, transparency, patience and openness are key.
What are some of the biggest benefits of hiring co-op students?
We love our co-op program and we’re bursting with excitement each time a new batch joins the team. We get a chance to meet not only passionate individuals, but also visionary minds and future leaders of our industry. They bring such a positive energy with them and their drive to learn is contagious.
We learn from our co-ops just as much as they learn from us.
Co-ops also help us drive our business forward. We are able to improve the service we bring to our clients with the extra hands. We are also able to innovate with the help of the fresh perspectives our co-ops bring. Plus, it gives our full-timers a chance to step up and demonstrate their abilities to lead, guide and educate.
Triple the success at Kenna
Yiwen Cheng (she/her), Financial Analysis and Risk Management student, enjoyed her first work term with Kenna so much she returned to the company two more times. Yiwen discusses her experience:
What was it that first attracted you to a
co-op work term at this organization?
The first thing that attracted me was the job posting Kenna provided. The role description explained what a co-op student will be doing. As my first co-op term, the job description reassured me since I know I got a chance to apply my technical skills at work and the opportunity to learn new valuable knowledge. It also included a testimony from a previous co-op student which showed how wonderful the work environment is.
I could tell she had an amazing and memorable co-op experience. The interview also impressed me. The two interviewers were so friendly and patient, their smiles truly gave me confidence throughout the interview.
What were some of the tasks or projects you worked on?
As a business intelligence/SQL developer my main task was to develop SQL queries and build self-service Tableau reports with interactive dashboard to integrate and visualize data. These reports were used by both the employees and our clients. I also coordinated with the data reporting team to provide Ad-hoc reports and maintain the Tableau reports. In my first two terms as a data reporting assistant, the primary task was to negotiate and clarify the criteria on Ad-hoc reports for the business intelligence team to generate the report and then perform quality assurance before delivering to the stakeholders.
What have you found to be most beneficial about participating in a WIL program?
The most beneficial part is that, during work terms, I can get hands-on experience in knowledge and skills I acquired from the university. This enhances my understanding and builds a solid foundation for further study. Waterloo’s co-op program also ensures that I gain two years of working experience before graduation as most full-time jobs require 1-2 years of working experience. Given the reputation of Waterloo’s co-op program, we are preferred choices for most companies. Therefore, we have more opportunities than students searching for intern jobs on their own.
Stay tuned for the final feature celebrating WIL month!