Co-op student profiles

Co-op Profile: Interview with Anne Marie Hayman

Anne Marie HaymanWhat co-op positions have you held?

Junior Research Advisor, Research Branch, Ministry of Research and Innovation in Toronto, Ontario

Research Assistant, Resource Policy & Programs Directorate, Aboriginal Affairs & Northern Development Canada in Gatineau, Quebec

Research Assistant, Digital Innovation & Design Practice, Institute of Systems Science-National University of Singapore in Singapore

Research Assistant, Companeros Inc. & FIDEG (International Foundation for Global Economic Challenge)  in Managua, Nicaragua

What was your best co-op experience?

In terms of the work I was doing, I think my best co-op experience has been with the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. Having the opportunity to return and complete a second work term, I was able to make strong connections with my colleagues and I was treated as if I was a full time regular employee and not just a co-op student. During the two terms, I got to work on two different research grants, assist with a submission to the treasury board. I also got to work with the international research team to help plan a workshop that was attended by 50+ industry, academic and government officials in the field of nanotechnology. Post-workshop, I was asked to write a strategic report which was submitted to the Assistant Deputy Minister to review regarding a potential nanotechnology partnership between Ontario and China.

In terms of the experience, my best co-op experience has been working in Singapore. Getting to experience another country, another culture, a different work culture and being able to travel around the area to countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia has been an absolutely amazing experience.

How did your PSCI major prepare you for your jobs?

My PSCI major helped prepare me for my jobs by giving me opportunities to learn and refine skills that will be necessary in any work place. This includes researching, ability to communicate your arguments/thoughts in multiple formats (written, verbal), balancing multiple projects/assignments on very different topics, sound reasoning skills and logical thinking.

Which PSCI course did you find most useful?

For my job in Singapore (and upcoming job in Nicaragua), I believe that PSCI 282 (Foreign Policy) has been the most useful as it provided an overview of the political situations and relations of many different countries, especially small states. I also found PSCI 255 (Comparative Political Economy) to be useful for my co-op positions in the government. The work I did in those positions did not align with the subject matter covered in PSCI 255, but the theories and ideas behind them, and understanding different policy options that are utilized by different countries.

What advice would you give to upcoming co-op students?

Don’t search through jobs specifically using the PSCI filter or based on job titles. Sometimes there are more obvious jobs, such as the ones I received working for the government, but the skills we learn in our classes can be applicable in many different industries and many of my fellow PSCI co-op students have had great co-op opportunities in jobs that one wouldn’t immediately think correlated with political science.

Co-op Profile: Interview with Andrew Davidson

Andrew DavidsonWhat was your program?
Honours Political Science, Politics and Business Specialization, Sociology Minor, Cooperative Program

What co-op jobs did you hold? What do you think helped you get those jobs?

Marketing Coordinator for the University of Waterloo

Junior Business Analyst at eHealth Ontario

Communications Assistant for the Port Hope Area Initiative

Systems Analyst at RBC

What was your best co-op experience?
My best co-op experience was working for the Port Hope Area Initiative (a project supported by the Federal Government). The project involved the cleanup and long-term safe management of approximately 1.2 million cubic meters of historic low-level radioactive waste in various locations throughout the communities of Port Hope and Port Granby.

During this co-op I had the opportunity to work in the exciting field of public relations.  Throughout my co-op I was tasked with writing newsletters, constructing public information publications, and developing curriculums for students in the local area that would teach the younger members of the community about the clean-up project. Another of my responsibilities was analyzing government statutes to ensure that the information we were presenting to the public met federal regulations and standards.

How did your political science major prepare you for your jobs?
One of the benefits of studying political science is that it equips you with multiple transferable skills that employers are usually looking for when hiring. These skills include: problem-solving, critical thinking, presentation skills, group working, analytical skills, and the ability to develop superior research skills on complex problems.

Political science covers multiple fields and is more interdisciplinary than other subjects incorporating several topics, such as: business, marketing, finance, and law. This prepared me for my work experiences, as I had to use my understanding in these subjects repeatedly.

Other benefits gained from studying political science was learning about the policy making process and how theory is actually applied in administrative systems. Showing that I had a practical understanding of the political system helped me better prepare for tasks I would be doing in government positions.

Which political science courses did you find most useful?
The courses that I found most helpful in preparing me for my work experiences were those focusing on public policy and the relationship between government and business.

Taking public policy taught me to understand the policy making process and how to critically analyze specific policies enacted at all levels of government. This course also taught me how to effectively research the different features of government policy in order to critically assess its effectiveness and consequences.

Government and business courses, on the other hand, taught me the details on the importance of subsidies, the government’s role in stimulating the development of new and existing businesses, taxation rates, regulatory regimes, and the laws on foreign investment.

Having an essential understanding of these topics are what employers from government agencies are looking for when hiring students. They defiantly helped me during interviews and while on the job.

What advice would you impart to incoming co-op students?
As a young professional with relatively little office work experience I found it important to demonstrate that I had an enthusiasm to learn and that I am able to adapt to new situations quickly.

For students that don’t have a great deal of professional office experience don’t worry, your not alone. The only job experience I had going into the co-op program was working at Tim Horton's and a local retail drugstore, Lovell Drugs, during high school.

To make yourself standout I would recommend volunteering as a way to help you build additional skills. This will not only show that you are motivated but it is also a fun and easy method that gives you the opportunity to develop important skills used in the workplace, such as: teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning, task management, and organization. This can especially be helpful if you have the opportunity to volunteer in a field that you are interested in pursuing as a career.

I would also recommend participating in some of the various clubs and societies offered on campus. I, for example, became an executive member of the Model United Nations Association and was elected Vice President of the Political Science Student Association(PSSA). 

Finally, no matter what co-op job you end up having, good or bad, have fun and learn from them. Co-op in political science at the University of Waterloo is an exciting program not offered at many other post-secondary schools, I personally recommend joining the program. I enjoyed my co-op opportunities and I know you will too. 

Co-op Profile: Interview with Kazim Habib

Kazim HabibWhat co-op jobs have you held? What do you think helped you get those jobs?

I have held two co-op positions thus far: my first in Business Development at DBRS Ltd. and my second as a Strategic Marketing Coordinator at Canadian Tire. What employers look for when hiring or looking into students changes every time. What remained consistent in being hired for both jobs was, apart from grades, involvement in organizations and hobbies outside of school, whether that means extracurricular FEDS clubs or personal interests or pursuits.  What they look for is an individual who is driven to pursue their interests outside of the confines of the classroom.

What was your best co-op experience?

My best co-op experience was at Canadian Tire in Fall 2013. As part of the Strategic Marketing team, I was constantly involved with creative agencies that helped develop television and digital campaigns for Canadian Tire products. My favourite experience was near the beginning of the term, when my group was filming the television spots for the Mastercraft 20V family of tools. The spot featured the Canadian Tire guy helping a young man fix his house after a rather exuberant party left it thoroughly destroyed. I was present at the filming of the "After Party" spot and saw the craziest scenes, some of which did not reach the final television spot, like a bed floating in the pool. Crazy stuff! 

How did your Political Science major prepare you for your jobs?

Neither of my jobs were directly related to politics and yet, my studies prepared me very well for the analytical and communicative portions of my co-op positions. When preparing to write an essay for a political science course, you have to research thoroughly and draw conclusions based on a holistic approach to a subject. The same skills apply to business positions, whether it is analyzing post-campaign reports, industry research, legal case studies and regulations, or many other miscellaneous tasks.  At the same time, they gave me broad concepts that apply thoroughly and easily to the globalized business world.

Which Political Science courses did you find most useful?

My PSCI 281 class, an introduction to international relations, was the most helpful course. As a study of general world conflicts and approaching broad concepts of interactions in an international world, it proved invaluable. Whether I analyzed international issues as research briefs at DBRS or wrote communication briefs at Canadian Tire, I drew on the analytical and communicative skills developed in that class.

What advice would you impart to incoming co-op students?

Make the most of your opportunities. When you're at a company, you are a part of a group of experienced professionals who have a plethora of experiences under their belts. Making the most of your time there means asking questions and getting advice or starting and finishing your own self-started projects that add value. You're there for a limited time. Make the most of it.

Kazim Habib is a Political Science (Arts & Business Co-op) student pursuing a specialization in Global Governance and a minor in History. Kazim was the winner of the Fall 2013 award for the best co-op report in the Junior category. [Interview by Dr. Veronica Kitchen]