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Inside sCo-op Fall 2009 Issue I

Giving an Edge to Scottish Businesses

Building Naturally an out-of-office experience

StraIght to the Top

connecting with Toyota Canada’s president

Making an

Impact one



at a time

Inside sCo-op



European Business

The Inside sCo-op is an e-publication that is released bi-monthly by Co-operative Education & Career Services at the University of Waterloo.

Giving an EDGE to Scottish Businesses...3 Six UW students join international consulting teams and advise companies in Scotland.

Building Naturally and Living In Community: An Out of Office Experience...5 Architecture student Magdalena Milosz gets her hands dirty building a strawbale house.

Working in Overdrive

Lend a Hand (and Help Yourself)...6


Career Advisor Melissa Lammert explains how to boost your career opportunities by volunteering.

Mapping the Virus: Geography in the Medical Field...7 Co-op student Andrew Janes follows the H1N1 virus as it travels around the globe.

H1N1: What You Need to Know...8 How to handle co-op in case of a pandemic.

From 0 to 60 in Record Time: Going the Extra Mile at Toyota...9 Sharon Mak’s whirlwind work term at Toyota.

Student of the Year...10

Straw Bale Architecture


Advice on becoming the next co-op student of the year!

Inside sCo-op


Editor Karina Graf

Staff Editor Olaf Naese, Communications & Public Relations, CECS

Contributor Melissa Lammert, Career Advisor, CECS

Photos Mike Graf, Sharon Mak, Keri Martin, Magda Milosz, Andrew Janes

Special Thanks Sue Johnston, Communication Specialist, It’s Understood Communication

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Inside sCo-op

Inside sCo-op

Editor’s Note

Hello Friends,

I’m not ashamed to admit it: I’m a fall fanatic. When the air starts to have a certain crispness, the designers debut new fashions (this year ‘biker brigade’ and ‘1940s and fabulous’ are hot trends, according to, and Onkel Hans has come out of hiding, I’m completely in my element.

Karina Graf (in October 1992), Media & Publications Associate, CECS MA Candidate, English Rhetoric & Communication Design

I’ve always felt fall – at least “back to school time,” the unofficial start of fall – was a time to start fresh: new school year, new classes (or co-op job!), new friends, new sweaters, new activities and new adventures. It’s been a tradition of mine to make new resolutions for the upcoming school year in September. Have you thought about what you’re going to accomplish this year? While reading this issue of the sCo-op, you’ll learn about some ways you can make an impact, both through your co-op positions, and in real life. You’ll read an interview with a group of Waterloo students who spent a term consulting for small businesses in Scotland. You won’t want to miss learning how Sharon Mak’s big ideas got the attention of Toyota Canada’s president. And make sure to check out our career corner section on volunteering. Whatever you’re doing this fall for fun, be it jumping in piles of leaves, sewing your Halloween costume, or basting your turkey, think about how you can make an impact. Happy Reading,


GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE WANTED If you can: • Adapt to work environments in other countries • Be sensitive to cultural differences • Communicate and work effectively with people from other backgrounds

…employers around the world are looking for you!

Build your skills for the global marketplace by earning a GLOBAL EXPERIENCE CERTIFICATE (GEC) at UW. You can add an international component to your undergraduate degree by completing the certificate requirements: • Language/Global Studies course component • A minimum 6 week international experience (co-op work terms outside Canada and the US qualify. Anything under 12 weeks may not yield a co-op work term credit.) • A minimum 20 hour cross-cultural volunteer experience

The completed certificate appears as a milestone on your academic record and is expected to appeal strongly to multinational companies and other employers with international connections. So how do you prepare yourself to become a global citizen? To begin the process of obtaining a Global Experience Certificate you will need to fill out the GEC plan form online, print it and sign it and submit it to Waterloo International (NH 1101). GEC plan forms must be submitted by students before the end of their 2A term. Visit us to learn more about enhancing your future with this certificate. Inside sCo-op


Inside sCo-op

Giving an EDGE to Scottish Businesses

3 Clockwise from top right: Matthew Colphon, Science & Business Hydrology; Ian Delves, Arts & Business Economics; Keith Ng, Arts & Business Economics; Keri Martin, Arts & Business Psychology; Margaret Cichosz Grzyb, Arts & Business Political Science; Jessica Konzelmann, Science & Business

Flying above the clouds on route to Glasgow, Scotland, a group of Waterloo students could only dream about the intensive 8-week co-op job they were about to begin. Working with Scottish Enterprise’s Encouraging Dynamic Global Entrepreneurs (EDGE) program, Ian, Jessica, Keith, Keri, Margaret and Matt were setting out for a work term like no other. The EDGE program forms consultancy teams, which usually consist of two Scottish high school students, two Scottish University students, and two international students. After two weeks of training in entrepreneurship, enterprise leadership, cross-cultural teamwork, consulting and economic development, the teams work on sixweek consulting projects. Supported by industry experts, each team works with two local small- and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs), helping them implement strategies and plans for growth and development. Five of the six Waterloo students who worked in Scotland in the summer of 2009 talk about their experience:

What attracted you to this job? ID: It seemed like an amazing opportunity to get international experience and I’ve always been interested in consultancy. MCG: It was interesting to find a business job abroad. Most of the jobs abroad I find on JobMine are engineering, accounting or math. KM: The opportunity to gain valuable work experience abroad, while learning about entrepreneurship and enhancing my leadership skills. My great grandfa-

ther was born in Edinburgh, Scotland so I also thought it would be a unique way to discover my heritage.

What is the biggest difference between co-op with the EDGE program and past employment you’ve had? MC: This program is very self-managed and self-motivated, whereas all my other terms have had a direct manager and some form of corporate structure to deal with. As a result I think I've had a better chance

to learn about team and product management, as well as how different cultures work on a daily basis; little things you take for granted at home – from the size of paper to crossing the street or the hours of the grocery store – aren't what you've become used to. KN: My past co-op terms were much longer with more time spent getting trained and oriented around the business, while the EDGE program was on the job training. You can take the assignments how you see fit and be as creative as possible.

MC: Getting to meet people from around the world (Hong Kong, Beijing, Warsaw, Glasgow, New York and Vancouver), I’ve gained an in-depth perspective on cultural differences. It's also been a lot of fun traveling around the country and to other countries nearby on the weekend.

What challenges have you faced? KM: Working with younger high school students and also the engineer from China, Liu, who did not always understand English. We learned how to best utilize each other’s strengths. Liu did not like to write, but he was excellent at conducting research. The high school girls were good at conducting surveys for market research. MC: There is no defined boss which is a bit tricky to really deem who is responsible for following up when work isn't being completed. ID: Group and time management were real challenges this term. It was challenging to find a way to split up work that was efficient, fair and balanced.

How did your work make an impact? MC: With the larger of our two companies being only 22 people in size, it’s really easy to see how doing a major consulting project is making business much easier for them and letting them take on something they would have had to shelve for months otherwise ID: I worked primarily to help improve AG Barr's recycling efficiency. Understanding the company's situation and then being able to make recommendations is really satisfying. I don't often get the

What have you learned while working in Scotland? KN: I’ve really learned to work with various working styles and communicate with a wide range of backgrounds. The ability to actively listen to one another and also the clients is crucial for the success of each task. MCG: Culture and business go hand-inhand. It’s important to understand where certain people are coming from, and not make assumptions. Time management is also a key factor. KM: I’ve learned a great deal about myself. I have a better understanding of my work preferences as well as my strengths and weaknesses.

Is there anything else you would like to add? MC: I've had a lot of fun and I recommend that everyone take a chance and work out of the country - or at least far from home at least once during their co-op career. KN: The program isn’t long enough; I could have done this for four months straight.

ID: If you don’t like fried food, don’t come to Scotland; you may starve. That being said, deep fried pizza is a must. Further, haggis is delicious. MCG: Taking a term abroad during co-op is one of the best experiences a student can take. It opens your eyes to a new world and a new career path. I’d highly recommend this program!


ID: The creativity that's allowed when solving the problems identified by the company.

feeling I've directly done work that will substantially benefit my employer, but this co-op term I know I did, which I love.

Inside sCo-op

What are your favourite things about the job?

KM: Anyone considering a co-op term abroad should just do it. Although the prospect of being away from friends and family is somewhat daunting, it’s a really great experience - it’s been more of a personal journey than a normal co-op term. Interested in EDGE? It’s advertised on JobMine in the Winter term.

Clockwise from top right: EDGE launch event with Keith Kenning, CECS Associate Director, Field Services (recently retired); in front of the Louve in Paris, France; on a fence in Oban, UK; by the water in St. Andrews, Scotland; leaning against a pillar in Oslo, Norway.




Inside sCo-op









couple of summers ago, I decided to spend my co-op term outdoors, learning practical construction skills and trying to figure out just how a building gets put together. As an architecture undergraduate, I’d already had some co-op work terms in the private sector. Those experiences motivated me to seek out work in a non-profit setting, ideally a hands-on green building internship. When I started my search, I scoured sites like, and prepared a few applications before finally arranging to spend my summer at Heathcote Community as a natural building intern. Heathcote is an intentional community (members share responsibilities and resources) near Baltimore, Maryland whose members were in the process of building a new strawbale residence. Soon after my arrival, it became obvious that I’d learn more than just practical building skills. Being an intern at Heathcote meant fully participating in community life, including weekly meetings, nightly dinners, recreational activities and gardening work that provided much of the fresh food we ate. I worked at the building site three days a week, performing more manual labour than I’d ever done in my life. This opportunity was fantastic; it allowed me to learn practical skills, get in shape and meet many interesting people. My jobs included everything from plastering, cleaning and painting, to making a cob stove. I learned about lime and earthen plasters, strawbale construction and natural paints. I studied the architectural plans

to connect the ideas on paper to the physical, built reality.

Below: The house that Magda helped build. Far Below: Magda working on the house walls.

In addition to the work on the house, there were other aspects of the Heathcote internship that meshed well with the UW co-op program. Once a week, the interns, our supervisor (who was also working on the house) and the other workers met to discuss progress, goals and inspiration. These meetings were a good chance to check in and make sure the experience was going well for everyone. The scheduled Intern Night each Monday was a well-attended event, during which interns and other community members would gather to go on hikes, have a bonfire or play games. I also chose to attend a weekly meditation group. Every Thursday, I had the opportunity to listen in on the details of community life at Heathcote’s community meeting. Not only did I get to know the residents of Heathcote, I also learned how the community is structured socially, financially and politically. It was here that I learned about the practical details of organizing a community building project, as well as other aspects of community life, such as consensus-based decision making. At the end of the summer, I had learned much more than just how to find my way around a construction site. Living at Heathcote taught me to see the world in a different way, one in which I could become a direct participant in the change I wanted to see. The house I worked on was the result of much hard work, by many committed individuals, and it was wonderful to be able to participate in such a community-oriented project.

Inside sCo-op

6 Inside sCo-op

Career Corner

Lend a Hand (and help yourself) I

n today’s economy, employers are expecting more in potential employees. They’re looking for that well-rounded candidate who appears to have it all. So how do you become the perfect candidate? You see your dream job opening and you think to yourself, I’m qualified and can do the job well, I’ve got excellent grades, plus a few part-time job experiences and a killer personality to boot, but wait…. none of my job experiences are relevant to the field I want to work in. What do you do? Do you just give up on your dream job assuming you don’t have a chance or is there something you can do to better demonstrate to the employer you DO have the experience and skills they are looking for?

Melissa Lammert, Career Advisor, CECS

In addition to the above benefits, there are many other potential perks gained from volunteering: • Enjoying social interaction and meeting new people • Learning about a society or community • Helping to be a positive role model for improving your community • Learning more about yourself and feeling more confident about your abilities • Promoting professional growth and development Alright, maybe we’ve convinced you to consider volunteering, but where do you start looking to find these opportunities?

A great place to start is the UW Volunteer Fair that takes place on campus on September 22nd in the Great Hall of the SLC. This fair has over 50 local organizations that participate and hire student volunteers for their organizaSince many employers are cutting back on their tion. It’s a great way hiring within the current economy, many are looking to learn about possible companies and organizafor interns, contract workers or volunteers as a viable tions in the community that you may even want solution. to consider a career with. For more informaVolunteering can not only help you to gain valution on this event, please visit the Career Services able experience in the field you want to work in but website at: also further develop a variety of useful skills while establishing contacts that will help you land that As well, consider checking out the Volunteer Action dream job. Centre. This local organization offers an online listing of hundreds of local volunteer opportunities. As well, volunteering is a great addition to your You can even narrow down your search by listing résumé, showing employers that you are a balanced your interests, time commitments and days availindividual who contributes your time to the comable. Visit their site today to see what they have to munity – something that the majority of employers offer: do look for. You can also search for organizations online that Since many employers are cutting back on their you are interested in, and contact them directly to hiring within the current economy, many are looksee if they have any opportunities for you to voluning for interns, contract workers or volunteers as a teer. viable solution. If you are able to prove through an internship or volunteer placement that you are a Why not develop invaluable skills that will help valuable asset to their organization, employers might you to grow as a person while making an impact on consider you first when they decide to interview for employers. Consider volunteering today! a new job opening.

Mapping the


Geography in the Medical Field


ndrew Janes’ most recent coop term has been a jumble of secrecy and confidentiality. When first approached for an interview, he agreed. However, soon afterwards he said he couldn’t release any information. His emails sounded 007-esque, with lines like, “until it is released there is not much I can mention” and “the information I could provide at the moment wouldn’t be enough.” With all the secrecy, you might think he was working for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) on a top-secret plot to foil terrorists. Actually, Andrew was studying the spread of the H1N1 virus. You’ve heard the buzz for months now: don’t travel to Mexico, stay away from pigs and use hand sanitizer like it’s going out of style. But how do we actually know what’s going on with the H1N1 virus (previously known as ‘swine flu’)? Andrew, a 3B Geography student, spent his past two co-op terms at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto studying the virus’ spread with a team of experts. With co-op terms in Fall 2008 and Spring 2009, Andrew started his second term soon after the outbreak in Mexico was first recognized. His team of physicians, epidemiologists, mathematicians, statisticians, geographers and public health officials accurately predicted how the virus would spread. “With the recent outbreak we’ve been analyzing travel patterns and the spread of H1N1 around the globe,” says Andrew, “Our work’s been used to provide information to the province and government during the height of the outbreak.” As a Research Assistant/Cartographer, Andrew used his GIS (Geographic Information System) skills learned at Waterloo to map these global travel patterns. “I’m helping in the production of maps and figures for use in reports and journals, and

Andrew designs a map at his desk in St. Michael’s Hospital the creation of web maps for display on the website.” The research team began developing a system called the BIO.DIASPORA Project after the 2003 SARS crisis. The system rapidly evaluates air traffic patterns to accurately predict how diseases and viruses will travel around the world. According to a CTV news article, the team’s H1N1 analysis was conducted less than 24 hours after the virus appeared. The original secrecy surrounding the project was to prevent information leaking (especially by the Inside sCo-op!) before the report was complete. It has since been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, used by Canadian government health agencies, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, and attracted media attention.

For a geography student, work at St. Michael’s came as a bit of a surprise. “After growing up with a parent in the medical field, I’ve always been surrounded by the health world,” he says, “At first I wasn’t aware of the connections between geography and the medical community, but this co-op position changed the way I look at the use of geography. Most people think geographers will end up teaching, analyzing the physical environment or just making maps, but this position opened my eyes to the variety of uses for GIS and just how diverse geography can be. Geography can be used just about anywhere and using it in medicine is a great way to have a positive influence on the world. I’d like to continue apply my knowledge of cartography and geography within the medical community.

Inside sCo-op


The H1N1 virus is a respiratory illness that causes symptoms similar to those of the regular human seasonal flu. Symptoms: Similar to the regular seasonal flu, including coughing, fatigue, fever, lack of appetite, muscle and joint pain, runny nose, sore throat, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Transmission: Person-to-person when germs enter the nose and/or throat. Prevention: Wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap, cough and sneeze into arm or sleeve, stay home if you’re feeling sick. More H1N1: Expect new cases and possibly additional waves of illness.


ECS has prepared a flu pandemic plan to provide structure and protocol for operating in the event of an outbreak. Watch the CECS pandemic web page (see link below) for updated information. If the pandemic threat is more severe, you will likely receive an email from CECS with specific instructions. Here are some quick answers to your co-op questions: Will interviews continue in the usual manner? If the pandemic level is at a phase where public movement is advised against or restricted, CECS will organize telephone interviews for students in their homes or UW residences. Schedule information will be posted on JobMine as usual. If UW classes are cancelled and CECS staff is working from home offices, how can I meet with someone to discuss issues or receive counselling? CECS staff will still be available by telephone and email. The Information Centre staff (519-888-4026) can direct you to the appropriate person. If the H1N1 pandemic hits Toronto (or any other specific location), will my upcoming work term there be in jeopardy? If the pandemic hits Toronto, then it will likely be active throughout the entire province, maybe even the country, so unless you become ill and can’t work or you are laid off by your employer, your work term should take place as normally as can be expected.

If I’m working outside of Canada and the flu pandemic is active, what should I do? Check the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) travel advisory to get a reading on the situation. You may not be permitted to enter an affected area by the country’s own government. If there is no DFAIT warning and you are able to enter the country in question, it is entirely at your own risk. What happens if the location of my upcoming work term is hit by the H1N1 pandemic and I now feel uncomfortable going to work there? Can I refuse to work in such a location? In such a scenario, you would not receive credit for the work term. Be sure to speak with your co-op advisor should your work term take place in an affected area. If I’m part-way through my work term and there is an outbreak of the virus amongst my employer’s staff, can I quit my job, or must I continue working? You should contact your co-op field coordinator and employer right away to discuss your situation. What happens if I get sick with the virus while on a work term? You are covered by the Student Supplementary Health Insurance Plan as usual (as long as you are registered and have paid the premium).

Andrew stands in front of St. Michael’s Hospital

Want more info? Check out the following: CECS Pandemic Plan: University of Waterloo Pandemic Plan: Public Health Agency of Canada: swine_200904-eng.php World Health Organization: en/index.html


What You Need to Know

Inside sCo-op


Inside sCo-op


wo weeks into her four-month work term, Sharon Mak walked up to the President of Toyota Canada. “I understand you’re looking for new, creative ideas for Toyota,” she said. “Can you give me 20 minutes of your time?” After a few seconds of stunned silence – the president apparently unaccustomed to chatting with a co-op student – he said, “Absolutely. Arrange it with my assistant.” As a 4A Arts & Business Speech Communications student with four successful work terms under her belt, Sharon Mak was full of ideas. Her challenge was putting them into action. She explains, “To be honest, I’m only 21 years old. I need motivation. I’m lazy. It’s so easy to think of something, try to do it, and give up in the middle. I decided I can’t let my life go by like this anymore. I have to do my best. I want to make a change. So after I talked to the president, he’s expecting to hear good ideas from me. That’s the pressure. That’s the biggest motivation I can get.” Wanting to share all of her many ideas, the first version of Sharon’s presentaSharon with Brian Clark, her tion clocked in at an manager at Toyota unacceptably long 90 minutes. Working with her national manager, through months of work and seven project iterations, Sharon was able to cut the presentation time down to only 20 minutes and three main points. Improving Toyota’s internal communication through more comprehensive staff information and standardized webcasts, as well as plans for soliciting fresh ideas from all stakeholders were the central ideas. It wasn’t easy. Besides her regular job duties for Dealer Process and planning her presidential presentation, Sharon improved a manual data-entry process, automating it, increasing the efficiency and accuracy of report generation. Her employers recognized her hard work, awarding Sharon a Toyota Recognition Award. “I believe I was the only co-op who got this award during that term,” Sharon mentioned, “And that’s actually one aspect of


From 0 to 60 in Record Time: Going the Extra Mile at Toyota the job that made an impact on me and really kept pushing me further.”

Despite her effort, Sharon sensed that some people seemed threatened instead of appreciative. “People always asked me, ‘Why are you so motivated? Why are you so energized?’” said Sharon, “I guess my biggest challenge was figuring out what’s appropriate and what’s not. I’ve learned that sometimes respect is the key. I’m not trying to step on anybody’s toes to excel myself. The reason I’m doing this is not to outshine the department or anybody in it or to accelerate in the company. I know I’m going to be gone after four months, but I just thought since I have ideas, I want to be talking to the right person.” After all her hard work, Sharon never had the opportunity to present to the president. “Because of the economic crisis he was travelling quite a bit to Japan,” said Sharon, “so by the end of the work term we didn’t end up getting a presentation with him. But what I did get to do is present in front of two whole departments. Even now my manager is still organizing it to be presented to a few more departments, such as HR and marketing because it might be beneficial to them.” While approaching the president of a large company with a proposal might seem daunting to some, Sharon believes it was the right move. “I don’t know if I did the perfect thing with this presentation but I definitely have no regrets this term. I did my best. My principle is that while I’m sitting at the office for eight hours, why not give it my all? You hired me, you trust me, and I’m going to work my hardest for you.”

The Power of Speech As a 4A Arts & Business student with a major in Speech Communications, Sharon Mak knows the significance of word choice. During her winter 2009 work term at Toyota, she paid close attention to the permanent employees’ speech habits; Sharon found happy employees say “we” when discussing the company, unhappy ones distance themselves by saying “they,” and before she earned their respect, Sharon was called “the co-op.” But by the end of her four month term, people called Sharon by name; she had confidently approached the President of Toyota Canada, earned a Toyota recognition award, presented her fresh ideas to large groups of employees, and stumbled a bit along the way worrying about appropriate workplace behaviour.

Are you the next Student of the Year? One student from each faculty will receive the distinction of Co-op Student of the Year. The winners will be students who best demonstrate the following achievements:

- Receive an “Outstanding” evaluation during 2009 - Maintain an average of 75% or better - Take leadership roles on-campus, at work and in the community - Contribute to an employer - Contribute to co-op in some way

If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to nominate yourself or someone else, click here: Final application packages are due by December 11, 2009. We strongly encourage you to begin the application process now. You will avoid the last minute rush before the December seasonal break, and your outstanding work term is still fresh in your mind – and your employer’s! 2008 Co-op Student of the Year winners. Left to right (back row) Ray Cao, Elyot Grant (front row) Renee Smith, Amanda Hird, Safia Ladha, Dafne Gokcen.

Inside sCo-op


Where in the world do you want to go?

We can help you get there. Earn a Global Experience Certificate at UW WatErloo IntErnatIonal Needles Hall (NH) 1101 519-888-4567, ext. 38350

Fall 2009 issue 1  

A bi-monthly publication by Co-operative Education & Career Services at the University of Waterloo.