Reflections of a Co-op Student

As the sun sets on the horizon of the Inner Harbour, so does my time with the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA). It is the middle of my last month as I look back on all the incredible experiences and all that I have learned during my co-op with GVHA. I am going into my third year of school at UVic, studying a geography major and environmental studies minor. This has been my first co-op, and it spanned four months from May to August. In an effort to be completely candid, GVHA was one of the few organizations out of the many I applied to that contacted me for an interview. I wasn’t quite sure who they were or what they did, but once I read the job posting I knew that this was the co-op I wanted.

As the Seasonal Events and First Nations Engagement Assistant, I had one job with two very distinct sides to it. On the Seasonal Events side, I worked with the Marketing and Communications Department and on the First Nations Engagement side, I worked with the First Nations Engagement Department. With the Marketing team I was able to produce and manage social media, blog posts, work on our website, work on media releases, create communications plans, create the monthly internal and external newsletters, and so much more. My work with the First Nations Engagement Department involved working closely with the Esquimalt Nation and the Songhees Nation. This included creating community programs with GVHA, helping with Indigenous business procurement, helping to create opportunities for Indigenous students at GVHA, helping with our Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) commitment, and other related projects.

I have learned so much about how GVHA operates and how everyone here has a significant part in operations. Everyone at GVHA is committed to the work they do, and they do that work well. I think this is best highlighted by all the department-of-ones, and how a single person will do the work of their whole department. I am so proud to be able to say I worked with all the wonderful people at GVHA, because they produce honest and high-quality work. Learning from everyone here has made me a much more confident person during the course of my term. I learned how interconnected the organization is, and how everyone depends on each other, in various capacities for their overall success. I feel this lesson is unique to a small organization, and one I did not learn when I worked at a large company.

I was able to develop my skills including organization, multi-tasking, and communication. Working in a dynamic workplace such as this one, I ultimately learned how to be flexible and fast thinking. No day was alike another, and there was a thrill of walking into work knowing it wouldn’t be like the day before. GVHA has many beautifully managed properties that I was lucky enough to visit. Nearly everyday  I was going to and from our properties. I loved how I was able to get outside and interact with our properties and those who visited them.

What I loved most about being at GVHA, was simply being at work. I was warmly welcomed into a vibrant workplace and was given endless opportunities for my personal and professional development. How could I not love that? I loved being apart of a strong team and being given the opportunity to present my skills. My time with GVHA truly was fantastic and I can only hope I am able to work with them again in my future.

With this being my first ever co-op experience, I now have a very positive relationship with the program. I am so thankful that UVic offers this program and that superb organizations like GVHA participate in them. I look forward to my next co-op opportunity with UVic, and maybe even GVHA…

I am excited to go back to school, but I will really miss all the projects and experiences that come with my job. I feel I am coming back to school with a head already full of knowledge from my co-op term. I don’t know if I will manage to learn much more in class! I feel more connected with Victoria and my community, and I feel better equipped to take on whatever comes my way in the future. I am so confident in my abilities and in myself. My communication skills, project and task management skills, my social responsibility, and intercultural motivation are all strengthened. I now know my strengths and weaknesses much better, and this has allowed me to showcase my strengths in my work and to improve and develop my weaknesses. I of course have so much more to learn and experience, but my personal and professional development has skyrocketed during my co-op and that is one of my biggest take-aways.

I know I could easily ramble on about how much I thrived with GVHA, but I think its best to sign off here. As the sun sets on the Inner Harbour, it’s time for me to sail off to my next adventure. I wish the best to everyone at GVHA, and I thank you all again for the incredible experience and your incredible kindness.