Consider a university coop program to gain a competitive edge
By Shella Gardezi
Fahad Yasin is a recent grad who believes a coop program can lead to a better understanding of your career goals and open doors to opportunity.
Yasin graduated from the Simon Fraser University (SFU) coop program in international business and marketing. So, far his education has taken him as far abroad as Mumbai and Copenhagen. This summer, he’s spending his time working for Education Generation on an internship in Sri Lanka. In the fall, the class valedictorian will be returning for a master’s degree.
Yasin says international coop studies helped him realize his interests. He started out working for Revenue Canada, but realized that wasn’t what he really wanted to do. He moved on to the United States Consulate working in bilateral trade. His final coop was in Mumbai working in trade development in renewable energy.
“I would say that one of the biggest benefits of the coop program is realizing what you aren’t interested in, and I think people kind of miss out on that part of it,” he says.
Simon Fraser University grad Fahad Yasin completed his final coop placement in Mumbai working in the field of trade development in renewable energy.(photo submitted)
Adam Brayford, communications coordinator at SFU’s
Work Integrated Learning,
says the coop program gives students an excellent opportunity to explore career paths while they are still in school, but also to hone their practical and interpersonal skills and develop contacts in the community. During the course of a degree, Brayford says staff see a transformation in the students who take coop programs.
“After three or more work semesters, it’s quite a change. Students have honed in on what it is they want to do after their degree and through many consultations with their coop coordinator and after completing many interviews, students are very polished in the way they present themselves,” he says.
Each year, coop students are involved in 2,600 placements of which about 160 are international. These involve organizations such as HSBC, the United Nations and Microsoft.
“The internationalized resume is something that can be very appealing to a potential employer,” Brayford says. “It shows the employer that the candidate is not afraid to face challenge, that they can make it on their own with limited support and that they have a sense of adventure. When an employer is looking at a stack of resumes, international work experience is one of those things that can help a student stand out.”
Yasin says that students considering an international coop placement should be open-minded and transparent about their goals and objectives.
“At that time I had done a lot of my foundational courses in international business, but being on the ground (in Mumbai) and putting myself in situations where things were different was an amazing way to open perspective and open my mind up to understanding how different cultures operate in business,” he says.
Regardless of whether a student chooses to pursue a coop program, both Yasin and Brayford agree the key to enhancing one’s resume is to start developing practical experience and community contacts while one is still in university. These opportunities can include international exchanges, international competitions, volunteer experiences, clubs and professional associations.
“The best way to ensure that they are attractive to potential employer after graduation is to not wait until after graduation to get involved in some way,” says Brayford. “The more community engaged a student is, the more competitive they’ll be.”
You can read more about Fahad Yasin at
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