Sharing my Experience on the Co-op

Avril de Souza

Was it what I expected?

A teacher and an HR professional by background, I opted to do a co-op as an Administrative Assistant precisely because I was more keen on getting into particular organisations rather than particular roles. I thought once I had a foot in the door, I could navigate my way a few steps up the career ladder in time. While promised this prior to the co-op, neither of the companies I had requested featured on my list of choices. Thankfully, though, when I came to WSI for an interview I felt I'd like the work culture, the office looked pretty impressive and the two young ladies that interviewed me seemed friendly and professional. I wasn't wrong.

I'm half way through my co-op at the moment. The tasks assigned to me were not the usual assignments that would test my Word, Excel and Power Point Skills as I had expected. Yes, I did have a fair amount of business correspondence and calendar management to do. I've been working as a QSP Business Support Coordinator, providing support to the QSP Manager. Don't be disappointed if your co-op title isn't as impressive....I was never given a title out here. I just figured out through Linked in the title of the last co-op from NCP in this position and used it on my resume.

QSP stands for 'Quick Start Program'. Basically WSI is a digital marketing company. Following a week-long in-house classroom training module, our international consultants return to their countries and enable SMBs in their countries take their business to the next level by developing their websites and managing the flow of traffic to their websites. I schedule and listen in to educational webinars every Monday. Then on other days of the week, I listen in to weekly webinars for specific groups at different phases of their 12-week QSP program. I monitor the performance of ICs and send them reminders if required. I also manage queries from ICs, either responding to them or directing them to the person that can address them. And of course I track the number of client meetings they conduct, the proposals they send and the sales they close. Educational webinars are conducted by ICs from different countries and while their content is impressive, some of them might not be native speakers of the language and some minor editing of their power point presentations might be necessary. And then of course, I have to convert the webinars to MP4 format and upload them on the WSI portal so that they are available to the ICs.

Were there any surprises in terms of Canadian culture while working at WSI? Not at all. The environment is cool. My QSP Manager is extremely supportive. I'm not techy and he knows I don't really enjoy doing the techy stuff but appreciates the fact that I'm willing to learn. And I constantly remind myself that I'm learning something nice to know that I would have been less inclined to learn on my own. By listening in to the webinars and reading some of the material on digital marketing that I currently have access to, I'm beginning to develop an interest in digital marketing, but don't think I'm at a stage of my life when I'd like to change careers. Teaching and HR are both equally appealing to me and I think I want to land a job in either of these professions.

Every Thursday we have a team huddle. At each of these, staff are quizzed on updates sent by the Corporate Communications team during the week and prizes are awarded. I've won a Google pen, two Google tee-shirts and a frisbee so far. That just shows you that I've done my bit to keep up with corporate communication broadcasts. It certainly looks like a little organisation on the brink of a business explosion. They have a global convention they are gearing up for in August. I expect WSI to be a global leader in digital marketing before the end of the year. I've even contributed ideas for slogans for their Global Convention tee-shirts.

Indeed, a whole new planet has swum into my ken. I still know I want to do something with World Vision. Interestingly, WSI supports World Vision's 'Make Child Poverty History' initiative. I might not be able to complete this co-op as I think I have to do an ABQ this summer to enjoy permanent OCT status. However, I've learnt how to participate in webinars, convert them to MP4 format, upload them on the corporate portal, and hopefully will get to learn how to conduct a webinar too before I leave.

Is there advice I'd give people joining a co-op. Don't settle for less than you want to do. Do something that you truly enjoy doing especially if you have to do it free so that you don't have to so desperately search for the silver lining in a job largely created to help the company get up-to-date with a backlog of tasks that no one seemed to want to do.

Is there anything you really learn about workplace culture. As expected, the workplace is made up of different kinds of people and it's got nothing to do with Canada. Some dump, some delegate, some pass you by as though you don't exist.