Julia Paiva

What are your thoughts on co-op program?

I think the co-op program is a highly beneficial experience, and that all students should consider it. Especially if they want to build upon their communication and teamwork skills, as well as professional development. I found my placement to be an eye-opening, educational, and overall fun experience.

 

How was your first placement? How did you go about the process of getting it?

I had one 12 month placement at a pharmaceutical company, and really enjoyed my time there. The job search prior to that could be frustrating at first, I believe I had 2 other interviews before landing a job. But once I was hired, I was surprised at how much guidance and support my work place offered to co-op students. I gained a lot of knowledge about how vaccines were produced, and also was challenged to deliver presentations and think outside of the box.

The mock interviews and resume reviews offered by the co-op department helped me in preparing for those interviews, and made me feel more prepared.

 

Was your first placement the same as what you expected? Are there any differences between your expectation and reality?

My university background helped with the scientific aspect of the placement, but in order to be successful in a team environment it is really necessary to be able to work effectively with others. A strong work ethic and the ability to be flexible when things don’t go as planned is crucial to succeed and really learn during a work term. I was surprised that on my work term I had the chance to deliver a presentation, and had opportunities to aid in planning company events. As a science student, it is important to develop and grow soft skills as well.

 

Do you think co-op helped improve you as a person or better guide your life?

It took me outside of my comfort zone a bit, but in a great way.

 

Do you have any further advice or tips for other students in Co-op?

My advice for going into an interview would be to research the company and department you are looking into, prior to the interview. This shows the interviewer that you are someone who is not only prepared, but also genuinely interested in their company. I would also advise future students to not be afraid to take on projects or volunteer positions at their placement, if they are offered. Everything is a learning experience.