Have you ever wondered where your SFU degree will take you? Sure, the ability to write a five-page paper on the history of the CBC at 2 am is admirable, but will it help you land a job? Maybe you’ve already asked yourself this and decided to work on gaining some work experience through the Co-operative Education Program, but how are you going to make the leap from a co-op student to full-time employee? I sat down with Karen Sum, SFU co-op alumni and Canucks.com website coordinator, to find out.
Karen started out with the Canucks as their web intern, but by the end of her work term she had secured herself a full time position. “My internship was a little bit unique,” she said. “In the fact that Kevin [the website director] was new, so we both kind of started together, so he was also still learning in his position and because of that he gave me a lot of responsibility as an intern…because there wasn’t a lot of options where he was going to get help from.”
For Karen, the biggest change in her jump from a student to full-time employee was the increase in her responsibility. “When I did get full-time there was a lot less supervision, so he would give me a lot more things to take on, and I would have to figure it out more [on my own].”
As the website coordinator, Karen now has to not only stay up-to-date on all the latest team news, but also keep her eyes on the newest developments in the ever-changing world of technology. She advises students to “be really curious, keep learning and wanting to do everything… Technology is always changing, so you have to stay on top of that, there’s always something new out there and something to learn.”
She also acknowledges that despite her success in becoming a full-time staff at Cancucks.com, breaking into the competitive sports media industry isn’t easy. “In sports you have to have a thick skin,” she said. “Because there are only so many jobs in the sports world, you have to be tough and be able to handle rejection and how the business works. It’s like a fraternity in here, once you’re in everyone’s really good buds, but it’s hard to get in.”
“You have to read a lot, and really be engaged and keep up to date on it… there’s so many people, you have to be the best at what you do… there’s very few spots so the more you read, the more you research, the more of a leg up you have.”
Besides keeping up-to-date on the latest trends, what can you do to set yourself up for success in whatever career you choose to pursue? “Education is huge, I think that’s the common theme,” Karen said. She recommended students with similar career goals to take publishing classes and courses like Communications 226, Digital Media Communication Techniques. “It’s very practical,” she told me. “You learn some video theory, which is good to know concept-wise so you know where to start, but it was a very practical course in that you had to shoot and edit and conceptualize all by yourself. It gave me a leg up, because I have this extra skill in addition to my degree that most people don’t expect or have.”
So you know the latest news, you’ve taken all the right classes, and now you’re ready to take the plunge and apply for co-op jobs with Canucks.com, but wait – Karen has more advice for perspective applicants.
“We want someone who does have some experience, but mostly we want to tell what type of person they are, if they’re a self-starter, someone who can work independently, someone who’s a quick learner, that’s really big…. there’s not a lot of time to go slowly into thing so we need someone who can adapt quickly.”
Excellent advice from a prime example of students achieving job success through Co-op. Don’t wait until graduation to start your career .