Esha Awan (she/her), shares her co-op experience as a fourth-year Science student, working in a variety of industries — from pharmaceuticals to robotics— in addition to her passion for veterinary sciences.
Currently, Esha is in her fourth co-op position at Swap Robotics as part of her Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.), Honours Science and Business program, with a specialization in Biotechnology.
Each co-op experience is inimitable to another— I place a lot of value on the learning, experience and friendships developed from each co-op. My greatest advice to first-time co-op students is to not be discouraged by the outcome of their co-op job.
I highly recommend asking managers at your job to take on higher-priority tasks, learn about the industry, and absorb as much knowledge as possible.
My first co-op was at Ontario Nutri Lab (ONL), as an animal research assistant in winter 2020. I am extremely grateful for this co-op, as I gained hands-on animal and lab experience. I worked in three departments at this co-op; laboratory, treatment, and enrichment.
During my time at the lab, I was conducting laboratory nutritional analyses of various trials. In treatment, I was responsible for the health and welfare of the animals; namely, pharmaceuticals, physical assessments, and surgical assistance.
Finally, in enrichment, I spent time providing affection, grooming, and attention to animals. Basically, I was being paid to play with animals (score)! In addition, I met two of my best friends who were also co-ops at ONL. It was a shaping time in my life; my first co-op, meeting new friends, and expanding my work ethic.
After completing my first co-op, I found it extremely difficult to land my second co-op job. It was hard during prime-pandemic time in spring 2020, with a sharp transition to online classes in addition to the lack of job availability.
However, last-minute, I secured my second co-op at Mint Pharmaceuticals Inc. as a pharmaceutical business development intern for fall 2020.
I loved my experience at my second co-op. My management was kind enough to take the time to edify me on the generic pharmaceutical industry, standard operating procedures and pharmaceutical project management.
Specifically, I enjoyed learning more about Scientific Affairs. For example, working closely with clinical experts to structure bioequivalence studies for molecules.
From market analysis to product procurement, I was able to work on various aspects of the business development process.
In spring 2021, I worked at Lean Payments, as an account manager. This start-up expanded my knowledge of the Finance and Technology (FinTech) industry— namely, Neo Banking. I worked with Global Liquidity Providers (GLP) to manage borderless payments of Lean’s clients. During this co-op, I made another great friendship, all the way in Florida!
As of winter 2022, I am in my fourth and final co-op position at Swap Robotics, working in business development. I have always been a huge fan of the Disney movie, “Wall-e”, and the robots at Swap physically remind me of them— which I love. In February, I got to take a week-long business trip to Canada’s capital, Ottawa, to pilot the autonomous and 100% electric snow plowing robots at Tunney’s Pasture.
This is the first start-up I have worked for that is growing at such a fast pace— it is an exciting time to witness the accelerating growth of the company. I highly recommend working for a start-up during at least one co-op term— I believe you learn the most and can implement significant improvements towards the growth of the company. This is amazing for both building student-employer relationships and advancements in your resume!
During the recruitment process through WaterlooWorks in fall 2021, for the first time in my co-op career, I was ranked “1” by several companies! For those that have not used WaterlooWorks before, it means I received job offers from several companies. It was a huge accomplishment of mine and a vast contrast from the recruitment process during my first and second co-op.
I knew instantly I was going to choose Swap Robotics when I received all my offers. When I initially started my degree in 2018, it was a goal of mine to work for a robotics company. I have learned a lot about the ingenuity of robotic engineering and have a newfound appreciation for hard-tech!
It’s evident in my resume that I have tapped into various industries and types of jobs. I think that’s the great thing about the Bachelor of Science in Honours Science and Business! Although, more specifically, I am extremely passionate about veterinary medicine and intend on applying to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program after I graduate.
Experience is pivotal in the application to the DVM program. Due to my co-op experience, I have broadened my horizons in the veterinary industry.
My time at Ontario Nutri Lab as an animal research assistant allowed me to gain hands-on veterinary experience.
This co-op assisted in me landing my current part-time job at a veterinary clinic in Waterloo, as a veterinary assistant. Being able to practice animal care solidifies my passion for pursuing my DVM.
When I first began my co-op journey in fall 2019, I was only 19 years old. This was right before the pandemic. I feel like my co-op journey has grown along with the pandemic (funny enough), it all seems full circle!
My co-op experiences have shaped much of my character. It is baffling to think I completed four co-ops in just two years.
This fall I will be 23 and feel much more well-rounded than when I was 19 and applying to my first co-op job. From meeting my best friends during my first co-op to achieving all my co-op goals by my final co-op, I am super thankful for my co-op experience!
This blog was originally published by Co-operative Education.