‘The best way for us to learn is through practical experience’
Want to work in an office where employees decorate their desks with Pokémons and Legos? How about a company where you collaborate with teams in Asia, Europe and South America?
Perhaps you long to intern abroad and meet inspiring innovators, like, say, Elon Musk.
If your answer is yes to any of these, look no further than Concordia’s Institute for Co-operative Education.
The university’s Co-op program offers its active student members more than 3,000 job postings on an annual basis. Internships are available to students in all four of the university’s faculties.
Employers include multi-national corporations, small and medium-sized companies, entrepreneurial start-ups, non-profit organizations and government agencies.
Recently, 24 undergraduate and graduate students presented posters detailing their internships during a showcase at the Co-op Awards of Recognition Event (CARE). Their experiences are a testament to the diversity of opportunities available through the program.
‘If I never worked for these companies, I wouldn’t have the same confidence’
Aisha Shaikh, a third-year student in Supply Chain Operations Management, knew she wanted to join the Co-op program after seeing her older brother go through it first.
“He told me I should definitely go into Co-op,” she recalls.
But when Shaikh got to her first interview, she was so nervous she started to shake. The company didn’t offer her a position, but she learned from the experience and eventually secured an internship with MEDISCA.
After serving as a compliance intern at Mega Brands in her second work term, Shaikh had become so confident in her abilities that she only applied to one company — Canadian National Railway (CN) — for her final internship.
She got it.
“I know for a fact that if I never worked for any of these companies and I just graduated, I wouldn’t have the same confidence,” says Shaikh, who is still working at CN on a part-time basis.
Now, whenever she sees students entering university, she advises them to apply for Co-op. “It’s going to help them so much just in terms of what they want to do with their lives,” Shaikh says.
“For the next few years, I’m just going to experiment and see what’s out there. Maybe I’ll find a company that’s my dream job.”
‘I met Elon Musk — how many people can say that?’
For Samrat Debroy, a student in Computer Engineering who will be graduating this spring, Co-op was one of the main reasons why he decided to apply to Concordia as an undergraduate.
“If you’re in engineering, your entire field is based on the idea that you can take theory and apply it in some way that’s useful to the world,” he says. “The best way for us to learn is through practical experience.”
During his time at Concordia, Debroy did internships at CAE Healthcare, Tesla Motors and Autodesk. He said all three experiences were amazing, including having to travel to Palo Alto, California, to work with Tesla’s autopilot simulation team.
“Before testing self-driving cars in the real world, it’s better to test them in a virtual environment,” Debroy says. “My job was basically to work on that 3D environment.”
A few times each month, Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla, would drop in to the company’s headquarters. Debroy was able to talk to him once during his internship.
“It was kind of surreal because you only read about him in the papers and stuff,” he recalls.
“I met Elon Musk — how many people can say that? And it’s all thanks to Co-op.”
‘I’ve learned about a lot of things I didn’t even know existed’
Before enrolling at Concordia in Translation, Rebecca St-Laurent Beauregard was studying to be a French and Spanish teacher. One of her professors told her she would likely excel as a translator, so she decided to apply for Co-op.
“I wanted to do internships because I wanted to make sure that I liked translation,” St-Laurent Beauregard says.
“I wasn’t sure if I would actually enjoy it outside of school because I knew it was much more demanding in the workplace.”
St-Laurent Beauregard completed her first internship at SDL as a project manager. In this role, she had the opportunity to work with clients from around the world and oversee deliverables for various projects.
From there, she moved on to two other placements at Cartier et Lelarge and IDEM as a translator. Her responsibilities in these roles included translating legal texts and collaborating with reviewers and project managers.
She will also be graduating this spring and has stayed on in her role as a translator at IDEM.
“I chose translation because I’m a really curious person,” St-Laurent Beauregard says. “Because I’ve been translating so many different texts, I’ve learned about a lot of things I didn’t even know existed.”
Find out more about Concordia’s Institute for Co-operative Education.