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February Student Profile: Kayleigh Swanson

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Kayleigh SwansonFrom an out-of-province experience, to a summer in Uganda, and right back to the University of Waterloo, Kayleigh Swanson and her co-op positions have done it all. Kayleigh is a University of Waterloo student currently in her 3B term of Arts and Business, majoring in PACS. Having so many vastly different Co-op experiences has taught Kayleigh a lot, and having the two together has had a huge impact on her.

"I think PACS and Co-op is good because PACS can go in a number of different directions, there are number of different streams. And Co-op allows you to try out, like I have tried to do, a number of different types of positions, but in every one you see some of PACS. There are opportunities to travel abroad, and work directly in development, and at the same time there are options to work in an office and work with interpersonal dynamics and possibly conflict with your co-workers. It’s neat because you try out a number of things that are all relevant but in a number of different ways."

Kayleigh’s first Co-op job was with a business-consulting firm in Edmonton, where she worked as an analyst. She was able to work on a number of diverse projects, and learn about the interconnectedness of so many aspects of the business world and peace.

"Pairing PACS with studies in Business has been a very practical way for me to study the tension that exists between values of human security and then traditional dimensions of business. Where you come out with both a practical approach to understanding the traditional elements of business but then at the same time you have a background of understanding theory and understanding the opinions and approaches of experts and then you can incorporate those in your own view and so you can approach problems with that practical understanding but also using theory."

Kayleigh in UgandaHer second Co-op term was part of the Beyond Borders program, and this also doubled as a PACS Internship. Kayleigh spent 3 months in Uganda working for a non-profit that was created to curve the spread of HIV/AIDS among vulnerable populations in Uganda. Opportunities within this position allowed for Kayleigh to experience the medical aspects, as well as the social services aspects of the work through difference services the organization had.

Kayleigh’s most recent Co-op position has been Donor Relations and Stewardship Assistant with the University of Waterloo Office of Advancement, where she worked to develop communications materials for donors to let them know where their money was going and how it helps the university.

"It was neat because I think I can see myself working for a non-profit, so to be exposed to the fundraising field and the entire profession was great. It was great to see what goes into raising money for a cause that you believe in and making sure that money goes where it is supposed to go."

Kayleigh in UgandaFor her final Co-op position, Kayleigh is working with a law firm in Toronto, a position of great interest to her, and she is looking into pursing law school when she has completed her undergrad. While Kayleigh is looking forward to the next steps of her career, she feels that her experiences with Co-op where vital in preparing her for what is next.

"I think for me Co-op has been a great opportunity to try out as many things as possible. Because it teaches you not only what you do want to do, but also just as much about what you don’t want to do. It forces you to find where your actual passions lie, rather than just your interests."

"My advice for someone considering PACS and Co-op would be to try out as many different things as you can just because, I look at what I thought my interests were when I came to university and what they are now, they have narrowed so much and I can attribute that to the diverse experience I’ve had."