canadian coop

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January 2016

Courtney Davison, Student Liaison, Co-operative Education

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Cecelia Ye to talk about her views on the Mount Co-op Program. Cecelia has been in Canada for four years, and is in her second year of the Tourism & Hospitality Management program, she completed her first co-op work term this past summer and had an excellent experience. Cecelia worked at the Westin Nova Scotian, located in downtown Halifax.

What was your position?

I worked in the housekeeping department as a room attendant. When I started the Bachelor of Tourism & Hospitality Management program one year ago, I had no hospitality experience. Working as a room attendant during the peak tourism season was a rewarding challenge. Although it was a tough job, I really enjoyed the team I worked with. Working at the Westin Nova Scotia was great.

What did you find most challenging about your co-op? Did your employer help you with this challenge?

The biggest challenge was working under pressure. Halifax is a harbour city and during peak times there are many rooms to clean. The supervisors and colleagues were very helpful, we always worked as a team and if you needed any help. My supervisors had an open door policy.

What was your favourite thing about your co-op work term?

I made a lot of new friends and learned a lot. I had the opportunity to work with people from all over the world, from different backgrounds and different age groups. We shared our stories during our lunch and break times and I still keep in touch with my new friends. I also get to see my friends at work as The Westin kept me on after my co-op as a casual worker.

What did you learn from your co-op work term?

With no industry experience, I learned a lot this past summer. I was able to observe how a hotel runs on a daily basis and watch how different departments interact with each other. I am excited to report that I was able to use what I learned in the classroom and apply it in my co-op work term. The communications management course was very helpful when completing the work term. This course helped increase my communications skills with my employer and co-workers.

How did you co-op work term experience influence your personal development?

I am an international student and communications skills are something I find challenging and am continually trying to improve upon. The combination of my class work and co-op work term have increased my ability to communicate in English and in turn this has improved my self-confidence. I believe that the more you practice, the more you gain and this has proven to be true this past summer. Working as a room attendant has also taught me how to be a good listener.

What do you consider to have been the biggest benefit of the co-op program for you?

The ability to apply my classwork in the workplace is a huge benefit. I have only completed one co-op and my personal development and communication skills have already increased. I also get to graduate with at least one full year of work experience and feel like I have already started my career ahead of students who do not have the ability to participate in experiential learning.

What did you think of the co-op process?

The co-op process was easy for me. I attended all the Professional Development sessions and followed the advice given to me by the coordinators in the Co-op Office. I found that following the steps made the process of applying for jobs and securing a position easy. It was a smooth process because the Co-op Office was there for me.

If you could give one piece of advice to new summer tourism students what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to apply for positions and be willing to try something new, because you will never know how amazing you are if you are not willing to try. I am confident to say that I think I am much more powerful than I thought I was after completing this co-op.

What would you like to do this summer for your co-op?

I would like to work in a hotel this summer, I am undecided on what position, but I know the hotel industry is for me.