By: Namish Modi (he/him)
China-based indoor environmental quality organization, PureLiving, is taking full advantage of the skills University of Waterloo students bring by hiring co-ops to fill important roles.
PureLiving’s mission is to create healthier and more sustainable indoor spaces and hires co-op students each term to work in its Shanghai office. PureLiving combines consulting, solutions and IoT to assess indoor environmental elements like air, water and materials, improve any gaps and then monitor and communicate results.
Dan Lin (she/her), the company’s global Human Resources manager, says Waterloo students bring a strong business sense to their roles in marketing, sales, consulting, software support and monitoring. Since PureLiving is a small organization with less than 50 employees, students take on important tasks and develop strong skills in the workplace.
“They learn from each other and really help each other and develop together,” Lin says. “I think that’s quite positive, healthy complementation.”
Waterloo’s co-op students set themselves apart from other students with previous work experience, Lin adds.
- Dan Lin (she/her), Human Resources manager of PureLiving
Lin says that seeing prior experience, grades and evaluations allows PureLiving to find candidates with the right fit.
“Most interns are bicultural, which is a great fit for our type of foreign-owned companies in China. PureLiving has worked with Waterloo for 12 years and have always appreciated the predictable system that the co-op program provides and backup support in the rare case we have an admin or fit issue,” she says. “UWaterloo is our primary source of intern talent and I have referred at least a dozen other companies to the University.”
From co-op student to co-op student supervisor at PureLiving
Jack Min(he/him), an environmental monitoring manager (BES’ 15), spent his final co-op work term in a business development role at PureLiving. Since then, PureLiving hired him as a full-time employee at the organization. He now hires co-op students himself.
As an alumnus in the Faculty of Environment, he says that students from the faculty can benefit from co-op terms at PureLiving because of its unique industry.
“This is a niche market for sustainability,” says Min.
“For environment students at the University of Waterloo, this is a valuable experience.”
PureLiving takes sustainable development and carbon reduction into account in their studies.
To run a business like this, Min believes the organization must find people that have environmental awareness to help. At the same time, the organization must have resources to solve problems.
What differs Chinese from North American companies is that North American organizations are non-profit when it comes to energy savings. For China, energy savings run on profitable models. Prior to COVID-19, PureLiving hired co-op students exclusively from the University of Waterloo.
Logistically, since then, it has been a bit more challenging with travel concerns, so they have hired from other institutions too. Five co-op students are hired each term to work in-person at PureLiving.
While Environment students are a good fit for PureLiving, students from other programs like Math, may fit into data analysis or finance roles in the organization.
For example, a Waterloo Computer Science student who developed a small program which converts unit from US AQI to ug/m3.
The tool has become especially useful and has longevity for future use in the organization.
Co-op students can be effective in small organization
According to Min, co-op students can take some time to adjust to the workplace. However, as the term goes on, they become more confident and can take on responsibilities without supervision. Like Lin, Min believes that working in a smaller organization like PureLiving can be beneficial for students. “A small company means you have a chance to lead things,” says Min.
He adds that co-op students at PureLiving often get an opportunity to lead a task, talk to an important client, or be involved in designing big project.
“You will have a chance to change something in the company,” he says.
The following are roles that PureLiving has hired Waterloo co-op students for:
- Sales support associate
- Consulting associate
- Software support associate
- Marketing associate
- Monitoring associate
- Software operations associate
- Overseas sales support associate