Our co-op and PDD Work Experience alumni gain valuable experiences from their work-integrated learning placements. Read more about their stories.

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Vivian graduated from the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA): Accounting program at Langara College in 2016. She completed two co-op work terms which helped her land a position as a junior accountant. Langara’s flexible course schedule allowed her to completed her BBA during evening courses, while working full time. Co-op helped Vivian develop a “can do” work attitude and become open-minded.

Why did you choose to take the BBA program at Langara College?
Being a full-time cashier/sales associate for 3 years while I was in school, my original goal was to obtain a diploma and find any job in an office environment. Then, I got two co-op terms which led to my third job as a junior accountant, it was then I decided to go further with my education.

Langara has the most flexible course schedules compared to other schools, when I reflected on my 6-year journey with Langara, I came to realize that 68% of my courses were either taken online or at nighttime. I would not have completed my education if Langara did not offer that kind of flexibility.

How did your involvement on campus during your studies help shape your career path?
I wasn’t on campus much during daytime as I was working full time the entire journey, I built connections with alumni I met during co-op and they were the people who got me thinking maybe I should finish my BBA program and continue to do the CPA program.

How did doing a co-op work term help you get your job today?
My first 2 co-op work terms were amazing opportunities for my transitioning from being a sales associate/cashier to an admin assistant and tax preparer in an office environment. These co-op terms led to my 1st junior accounting position.

When I graduated from the BBA program in 2016, I already had 2 years of junior accounting experiences, it was not difficult for me to find an immediate accountant job right out of school in 2016, I became Accounting Manager in 2017 and Controller in 2018.

Based on your co-op experiences, what advice would you give to employers looking to hire a co-op student?
Based on my own experience, possessing a “can do” work attitude and open-minded personality is more important than having related experience. This is particularly true when it comes to junior positions – you can train anyone in a junior position for the technical portion, but it’s very hard to fit someone with negative energy in your team. Being very “well experienced” but having a negative attitude does not contribute to a healthy work environment.

Have a training plan in place, this will help smooth the onboarding process and contribute to the company’s overall efficiency.

Building connections is a two way street, it’s always good for the students to build connections with employers but on the other hand, being the employer and staying well connected with the students may solve your hiring needs in future.

What advice would you give to students navigating their career paths?
While you are in school, do as many co-op terms as you can, that’s your chance to earn academic credits while testing the waters in the field you might be interested in.

Be open-minded and explore as many new things as possible. A lot of people got intimidated by their “imaginary obstacles/failures” and they never act on their plans.

Some people may be very conservative when they apply for a job – they wouldn’t apply for it if they did not check 100% of the skills/experience requirement boxes. Even if you only meet 70% of the requirements, I suggest that you try applying for those jobs because you never know what the competition looks like. Someone with 60% of the requirements met clicked “apply” got the job and you didn’t because you thought 70% would not suffice.

Do periodic career reflections, at the end of my co-op terms, I had to reflect on my work experience and list the tasks that I took on, the areas I hoped to develop and my future goals (I had to do it then because it was part of the final grades). Nowadays I don’t need to do it to get academic credit but it’s something I still practice annually. Setting some KPIs for yourself, it could be a very neat Excel table with a few words to start with. Reflect on past experiences and improve, set goals and list out possible strategies to achieve them. Over the years you may be amazed how you progressed.

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Sergio came to Canada with a medical degree from another country, looking to pursue a career in a different field. Through his Post Degree Diploma, Business Administration program, his Work Experience term, and his involvement in extracurricular campus activities, he was able to translate his past experiences and accomplishments into a Canadian context to give himself a competitive edge in the Canadian market.

Why did you choose to take the PDD program at Langara College?
When I decided to come to Canada in 2019, I felt that I needed to expand my knowledge in a different field from the one I originally graduated, which I believed it would help increase my chances of thriving in a competitive workforce when looking for a job. I also knew that this study period would help me transition smoothly between cultures while gradually getting a grasp of how to play the game in the Canadian job market.

How did your involvement on campus during your studies help shape your career path?
Without a doubt, there are numerous options for students to get involved on campus at Langara (clubs, volunteering, activities, events, etc.), and honestly, being a full-time student with a wife and two young kids (while running my own business on the side), I couldn't afford to do everything that Langara offers to students. So, to compensate for my lack of time, I interacted and built an excellent relationship with all my classmates, made my time worth a while by connecting with professionals whenever there was an opportunity, joined two clubs (Project Management Club and Digial Media Marketing Club) to receive their newsletter, and consequently, I was always informed of (almost) all the good stuff happening on campus. Therefore, I was able to pick the ones that interested me the most. All the activities and events that I joined, somehow, contributed to developing new skills, reinforce what I had learned in class and meet very interesting people. I truly believe that all this exchange of experience among students, along with the guidance from instructors are crucial to building anyone´s career and to integrate into Canadian society.

How did doing a co-op work term help you get your job today?
Without this work term, my career path would definitely have taken a whole different direction. Imagine someone with a medical degree (from another country) who has never worked as an employee for a private company, getting a business degree in Canada. "What will I do after graduation? What is out there for me?" I'm sure, I am not alone. Many other international students are struggling to adapt to a new reality and to figure out how they can transfer their skills to new industries. I am confident to say that the co-op work term, helped me understand who I am and what my passion is. After I got those things sorted out, thanks to a team of professionals from the co-op department, I am able to break down my past experiences and my accomplishments and translate them so that Canadian employers can make sense of it. Today my resume looks impeccable and I became much more employable than ever, just so that I got job interviews at the two companies I applied for (both are among employers in BC), and I was one the successful candidates to start my dream job in March 2021.

Based on your co-op experiences, what advice would you give to employers looking to hire a co-op student?
First of all, be aware that co-op students are legally entitled to work full time and most of them carry huge experience baggage from their home countries plus the new skills and the knowledge they learned in a new country. That alone shows their drive, ability to adapt and that they are opened to learn new things. What more can a company want?

What advice would you give to students navigating their career paths?
Find out what you are passionate about. Look for the industry of your interest and then narrow down the companies where you think you would be a good fit. For those who come from a country where you get an education to fill a specific job position in an organization, here in Canada the requirements are more flexible, and it's all about your passion! So, know exactly what you love doing, list your skills and strengths and learn how your past experience can be adapted to the position you are applying for.

Don't translate your accomplishments "ipsis litteris" into English in your resume. Make sure you use the organization's language or jargons.

Connect to people inside the organization to understand more deeply about the role you want and get insights on what to put on your resume. You will get an incredible head start if you do your research well before your work term. Best of luck.

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Melody Lin graduated from the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA): Marketing Management program at Langara College in 2020. She completed three co-op work terms with employers in different industries including industrial supplies wholesale, higher education, and a social media agency. During her studies, Melody was actively involved as a mentee in the Vancouver Board of Trade Leaders of Tomorrow Program and a member of the BC Chapter of the American Marketing Association (BCAMA). Upon graduation, she began a position with a biotechnology start-up, Ascension Sciences as a Business Operations and Marketing Associate and was able to successfully apply and receive grants for her role. Her co-op experiences helped shape her career path, giving her the opportunities to build her confidence and diversify her skill set

Why did you choose to take the BBA program at Langara College?
Langara’s BBA program offers quality education in small class sizes, giving the students a more personalized education experience where instructors know each one of us by name (and not just a number.) The instructors I’ve had the honour of meeting in the School of Management all have real-world experiences that they’re able to share in class and supplement course material. The BBA students at Langara are no different. Many already have years in industry under their belt and come from all over the world – I found myself learning from them in group projects just as much as I did in classes.

How did your involvement on campus during your studies help shape your career path?
Being involved in volunteering and co-op on campus opened up my doors to a world of opportunities. Not only did it teach me accountability and time management, I built lasting relationships with peers and discovered what I love to do. Most importantly, I gained confidence in myself and said “yes” to new opportunities. All of this combined helped get me to where I am in my career path today.

How did doing a co-op work term help you get your job today?
Each of my three co-op experiences allowed me to gain experience in different industries, leadership styles and roles. From digital marketing and sales to event planning and admin, this diverse set of skills is a key part of my current role where I’m learning about a brand new industry and wear many hats.
As a start-up, funding from external sources supported my transition into Ascension Sciences. The Co-op & Career Development Centre guided me through the application process for Venture for Canada (VFC)’s Internship Program. For organizations in the local tech space, Innovate BC is another valuable resource for funding information. Because of them, I was also able to successfully apply for and receive New Ventures BC’s ISI Grant.

Based on your co-op experiences, what advice would you give to employers looking to hire a co-op student?
Offering co-op opportunities is a great way to amplify your organization’s name, search for future talent and nurture the next generation. According to survey data from Universities Canada, 80% of employers say that co-op and internship students are a source of new talent and potential employees. Each and every student brings a unique set of backgrounds, experiences, mindsets and ideas. Keep in mind that many are entering the “real world” and stepping into a career-defining role for the first time. Being patient and open-minded will help you find the right fit for your organization.

What advice would you give to students navigating their career paths?
Did you know that over 50% of undergrads said that they benefited from hands-on and experiential learning as part of their university education? For students navigating their career paths, here’s my advice:

  • Persist: Every job experience – whether positive or negative – is a chance to learn about your strengths, passions and be one step closer to defining what you want in a successful and fulfilling career, so don’t give up!
  • Connect: You’ve probably heard this a million times, but networking is key to building strong connections and reputation in the local business community. It’s a small world – you never know if someone you met at a past networking event will be a future colleague, reference or manager.
  • Start Early: Co-op, volunteer and work experiences throughout undergrad taught me how to be self-motivated and pushed me to step out of my comfort zone, because that’s where the magic happens!

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Rodolfo Motta graduated from the Post Degree Diploma (PDD): Marketing Management program at Langara College in 2018. He was an international student who was actively involved on campus with student activities and through his part-time work as a Career Leader promoting the C3 job board, and off campus as a mentee in the Vancouver Board of Trade Leaders of Tomorrow Program. His PDD Work Experience placement was at the Langara CCDC, where he helped organize and promote career events. With a passion for sports, events, and marketing, Rodolfo had a goal of working for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. During his studies, he first started volunteering with the Whitecaps and then conducted several informational interviews with their staff. Upon completing his studies, he landed a job with the Whitecaps and later on a position with Electronic Arts as an Assistant Program Manager (Americas). His work placement strengthen his understanding of the Canadian job market and provided him with skills and resources to help him pursue his career goals.

Why did you choose to take the PDD Marketing Management program at Langara College?
When I decided to study in Vancouver, my biggest focus was to find an institution that was recognized in the market as well as a program related to my previous experiences so I could enhance my skills. Of course, being a program able to help me on my Permanent Residency process and staying in Canada also counted when I made this decision.

How did your involvement on campus during your studies help shape your career path?
I believe this was one of the keys to help me to advance my career in Vancouver. Moving to a new country and not knowing anyone can be really challenging, and being able to mingle and network with students, instructors and panelists in events on campus was really helpful to understand how the market in Vancouver works and also to make the right connections to expand my network.

How did doing your PDD Work Experience term help you get your job today?
Since I arrived in Vancouver, my main goal was to work in the sports industry. Back then I wasn’t sure about the area of that industry but since my first term in Langara I had conversations with Jen, a Career Instructor, and other instructors on the Co-op & Career Development Centre to help me to find out which area was more suitable for me and how to land a job on that specific area.
From tailoring my resume and cover letter to that specific industry and teaching me about informational interviews to informing about the importance of volunteering work and attending to networking events and teaching me new skills that I use until today, the experience from being a student and then be able to work on my Work Experience term was key for me to achieve my goals.
As an example, I believe I could get a job with the Whitecaps because I had previously volunteered there for a year and a half and had so many informational interviews with different people in their office that when the opportunity came, it was very easy to sit and be interviewed by people I already know. And from their side, it was easy to make a decision to have me on board since they already knew me.

Based on your PDD work term, what advice would you give to employers looking to hire a PDD/co-op student?
There’s a huge benefit for employers looking to hire a PDD/Co-op student. Usually, these students are eager to enter and grow in the market and contribute to a company’s success. Since they are fresh from their classes, they can also give a different perspective and bring new ideas and trends to any business. And ultimately, it’s a great chance for employers to retain talent for their companies.

What advice would you give to students navigating their career paths?
It may sound a little cliché but it worked for me: Focus on what you really want to do and find your passion. Once you find that, explore the career opportunities and possibilities in that area and use that to enhance your skills. Jump in any opportunity that shows up to know more about that area and to network. Build up your resume and keep track of your progress.