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Brand Me: What do People Think of You?

Inside sCo-op Winter 2010 Issue I

Bottom up

From data entry to working with the top dogs

How to Succeed

Co-op Economy in Co-op (and Life)

What CECS is doing to help you find a job now

Interview Secrets

Advice from a local HR professional

Inside sCo-op


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


CECS & the Economy

Co-op Programs Through the Years...2 Find out when the Toronto Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup and which Waterloo co-op programs debuted the same year.

Economic Update...3 Co-operative Education & Career Service’s Director of Employment Relations - Core Accounts - explains the state of the economy and how it affects CECS.

Quick Tips for Success from an Expert...4 Co-op grad and Health Studies Master’s student Christine White gives tips to help improve your co-op experience.

From the Bottom Up...5 Mike Thompson wasn’t satisfied with his data entry job at Gordon Food Services. So he worked his hardest to impress his boss. Four work terms later, he’s still happily working for GFS.


Personal Branding

Who am I?

A Tour of Past Co-op Buildings...6 See the places where CECS has been housed over the years

Brand Yourself...7 It’s becoming increasingly common to define and manage your personal brand. Don’t get left behind - learn how to create a brand that represents you.

Impress in the Interview...9 Human Resources Manager for Miovision Technologies Inc. talks about how you might go above and beyond in a job interview.

Inside sCo-op

Movin’ Up at GFS



Editor Karina Graf

Staff Editor Olaf Naese, Communications & Public Relations, CECS

Contributor Ross Johnston, Director - Employment Relations - Core Accounts, CECS

Photos Karina Graf, Olaf Naese, Mike Thompson

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Inside sCo-op

Editor’s Note

Hello Friends, I recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. In one chapter of the book he discusses people who’ve become a master of something – pro athletes, famous musicians like the Beatles, or entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates. Gladwell makes the claim that it wasn’t pure luck that allowed them to succeed. And it wasn’t a genetic predisposition to be good at something. It was dedication. Gladwell suggests that the common thread linking the most successful ‘outliers’ was the over 10,000 hours they spent mastering their craft. It inspired me to think about what I want to be an expert in. So far, I’m still thinking. What would you choose to master? Pick up Gladwell’s book to discover some more interesting anecdotes regarding ‘outliers’. Karina Graf Media & Publications Associate, CECS MA Candidate, English Rhetoric & Communication Design

Similarly to the 10,000 rule, this issue we’ve focused on success. Don’t miss our interview with HR specialist Rebecca Doerr for tips to rock a job interview. Read about Mike Thompson, a co-op student who turned a mundane first work term job into a fantastic position in subsequent co-op terms. If you’re wondering how the economy is affecting co-op jobs, check out Ross Johnston’s economic update.


Of course, your success can only be defined by you. Let these success stories be a launching pad for whatever you choose to accomplish (that and your 10,000 hours of practice ). Happy reading,

Karina 1957 Waterloo College As-

sociate Faculties was formed (University of Waterloo) and the first co-operative education program in Canada was introduced. This Engineering co-op program began with 75 students. “Leave it to Beaver” debuted.

1964 The Waterloo Mathematics co-op pro-

gram began with 100 students and the world’s population reached 3.276 billion.

1963 Beatlemania hit

Britain and the Waterloo Science co-op program began with 19 students.

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1975 Saturday Night Live

premieres and the Waterloo Arts co-op program began with 8 students.

1967 The Toronto Maple Leafs

won the Stanley Cup (and haven’t won since). The Waterloo Human Kinetics & Leisure Studies (now AHS) co-op program began with 148 students and Environmental Studies (now Environment) co-op program began with 35 students.

2001 Not quite sure

what Arthur C. Clarke, Stanley Kubrick and the HAL 9000 imagined. The Waterloo Software Engineering co-op program began with 102 students.

Economic Update CECS’ Director of Employment Relations - Core Accounts explains the state of the economy and how it affects CECS. by ROSS JOHNSTON

“It’s a recession when your neighbour loses his job, it’s a depression when you lose yours!” Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of United States of America

“You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig!” Barack Obama, President of United States of America

“This is the recession that will change the world!” Larry Smith, University of Waterloo Economics Professor


aving been tasked in writing my first article for the Inside sCo-op and been handed the topic of how the recession is currently affecting Co-operative Education & Career Services, the above quotes jumped out at me as I did my background reading. Capturing my attention, I feel they each describe an element of what we have seen and felt in the current recession. Thanks to increasingly enhanced media capabilities, news now travels faster and is more accessible than it was during Harry Truman’s time as president between 1945 and 1953. It’s fair to say this has been the most widely reportInside sCo-op 3

ed recession in history. Yet, to Truman’s point, we only ever truly recognise a recession when it affects us personally. In January 2009, Canada’s unemployment rate stood at 6.6 per cent. It currently stands at 8.6 per cent but has held relatively steady for the past five months. However, this is little comfort to the 217,700 “neighbours,” who have lost their jobs during the past 12 months. As Obama explains, you can try and make things look better, but if things are ugly then no amount of make-up can hide what lies beneath. The recession’s impact on the job market has in turn affected the employment rate here at UW. The number of graduate job postings are down

37 per cent from the Spring 2008 work term to the Spring 2009 work term. Whilst co-op employment rates have held up well over the past two terms at 93.2 per cent (Spring 2009) and 98.4 per cent (Fall 2009) respectively, it has been an uphill battle. Our world at UW is therefore being changed by market forces far more powerful than we can control. But there are things being done and there are things that each individual can do. Within CECS, we are taking action to promote funding programs that are available for employers, including funding that is being provided within UW to allow faculties and departments to hire more students. These funding programs will help us attract new jobs during these turbulent times. As well, we are increasing our focus on visiting sites where students are working in order to promote job development and help broaden and deepen existing employer relationships. Enhanced marketing techniques focused on new employers and job development are actively being pursued. Students have also risen to the challenge, resulting in a 22 per cent increase this year in jobs arranged by students. As a result of these actions, new techniques are being introduced that will only make us stronger in the future. A recent article in The Globe & Mail`s Report on Business by Douglas Porter, Deputy Chief Economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns, states, “The Canadian economy has edged out of recession.” Porter makes this statement based on an annualized GDP growth of 0.4 per cent in the third quarter in spite of a 10 per cent unemployment rate in the US (as of November 2009). Although your neighbours may yet lose their jobs, and lipstick may not disguise our problems, one thing is certain, this recession is changing our world.


tips for


from an expert

Christine White, an AHS Graduate, has completed five successful co-op terms. She is now working towards her Masters degree in Health Studies.

1. Don’t be too picky when applying for jobs, especially in this economic climate. Most jobs provide transferable skills. 2. Review the company’s website. Remember a few key details about the company in case they ask you what you know about them.

Ross Johnston in the Tatham Centre Inside sCo-op 4

3. Prepare specific questions to ask the interviewer. Asking questions demonstrates preparedness and interest in the job.

From the

Bottom UP

Mike Thompson wasn’t satisfied with his data entry job at Gordon Food Services. So he worked his toes off to impress his boss. The result? Four successful work terms at GFS and he couldn’t be happier.


Mike shakes hands with his GFS supervisor.


ata entry. These two words conjure up thoughts of brain-frazzled zombie workers – a nightmare that can strike fear deep into the heart of most co-op students. When Math/Business student Mike Thompson started his first co-op term at Gordon Food Service (GFS) he sat in front of a computer entering data five days a week, eight hours a day. Instead of moaning about performing boring, unskilled labour, Mike worked his tail off. Thanks to his hard work, four co-op terms later Mike still works for GFS – no longer doing data entry – and his flexible job has taken him around the country. Inside sCo-op 5

“I was motivated. Whenever I’d have free time I wouldn’t just sit around; I’d keep asking for projects to do.”

Starting his first co-op term, Mike didn’t know what to expect. “I would get stacks with hundreds of pages to enter a day and I would type them into Excel sheets,” he remembered, “It was basically pure data entry for weeks.” As he became more familiar with Excel, Mike standardized the process, which allowed him to finish the job in half the time. Instead of surfing favourite websites or chatting with friends (not that any UW co-op student would ever do such things), Mike was hungry for more work. “I kept getting stuff done and having extra time,” he explained, “I was motivated. Whenever I’d have free time I wouldn’t just sit around; I’d keep asking for projects to do.”

The existing scheduling tool was archaic. Mike created a program in Microsoft Access that allows managers to assign drivers to routes, view route history and make intelligent decisions – an interactive transportation labour scheduler called the People Plan. The new program was implemented at the Milton GFS centre. Mike’s hard work was noticed by other managers, who hired him for a second, third and fourth work term. His fourth co-op at GFS National was Mike’s best term yet. “I travelled the country and worked on national projects,” said Mike. “I took the People Plan and brought it throughout Canada. I travelled to Vancouver, Calgary twice, Edmonton twice, Winnipeg, Montreal, Yorkton (north of Regina). I probably spent about a third of the time out on the road.” Even though he’s back in school now, Mike still works part time for GFS. Another perk of Mike’s fourth term job was the flexibility it offered. Mike worked from home much of the time. “A lot of times everybody at a company thinks the co-op student works for them,” he said. “So everybody dumps stuff onto the student because they’re the lowest person in the company. It can be very time consuming if you’re doing other people’s work that you really shouldn’t be doing. But it’s just not your place to say no. Working from home, I avoided a lot of that.” Mike grins as he explains how he was able to turn an entry-level work term into a fantastic job. “It’s what you do with what you’ve got,” he said. “I’ve been at GFS so long I’ve seen a lot of co-op students come through in the data entry position. You get a lot of people who come in and they do the data entry and they don’t do anything else. They’re angry they have to do all this data entry. But I was just doing my job, and then I was motivated to use my spare time to do more stuff instead of socializing with people and taking long lunch breaks.” Part of Mike’s motivation was his desire to make a difference. “I think you’ve got to make a lasting impact,” he said, “When you’re done your job, if no one remembers you, no one’s going to care if you’re not there anymore. You’ve got to be motivated and accomplish things.”

A Tour of Past Co-op Buildings BY ANDREA LORENTZ The Department of Co-ordination, 1957. Photo by Marjorie Barber. Located at 210 Albert Street, this first office of co-op is now the site of the Frank Peters building of Wilfrid Laurier University.

Physics and Mathematics, 1960. Photo by Max Fleet. As the Department of Co-ordination began to grow, it moved to a larger office in 1960 and remained there until 1965. Arts Library, 1965. Photo from UW Archives. Do you recognize this building? The Department of Co-ordination called a sixth floor office of the (now Dana Porter) Library home from 1965-67. Mathematics and Computer, 1968. Photo from UW Archives. The Department of Coordination found a sixth floor office, room 6000, in the newly built MC building from 1968-72. Needles Hall, 1973. Photo by Marjorie Barber. The Department of Co-ordination jumped into the newest building on campus, this time Needles Hall, for their growing needs from 1974-2002. Built in 2002, The William M. Tatham Centre for Cooperative Education & Career Services is the latest and greatest home of CECS. Photo by O. Naese.

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The pestering paid off. Mike’s boss gave him a huge project: to create a new scheduling tool for the company. GFS is a food distribution company. They gather inventory – chips, pop, meat, napkins – from third party suppliers and distribute it to restaurants like Turtle Jacks, East Side Mario’s and Applebee’s. Several times a week, GFS trucks distribute inventory to each restaurant. The routes, inventory for each route and drivers often change.

Brand Yourself Define and manage your personal brand to guide the way people perceive you and stand out in the workplace.


You may have heard the buzz: personal branding is the way to achieve success. As the workplace becomes more competitive and knowledge-based, and as the workforce becomes more educated, there is an increased need for differentiation and uniqueness among workers. As a co-op student or soon-to-be-graduate looking for a job, you might think, “I offer something different from and superior to what my competition offers.”

Who am I?

Wrong. You offer pretty much the same thing as your colleagues/competitors. Professionals are increasingly turning to personal branding as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition and achieve success in their careers. A personal brand represents your values, personality, expertise, and unique qualities. It must remain authentic to remain believable. Think about what your friends might say about you. Are you reliable, friendly, trustworthy, or motivated? Do you have expertise in a particular area? What are your unique qualities? Now take the positive aspects of your own values, personality, expertise, and unique qualities – the best things about you that you WANT others to think of you. That’s your brand. Personal branding is about shaving away the less desirable qualities and consistently putting forth your best qualities. Those qualities and areas of expertise, then, are the first step in developing your personal branding message. It

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Your message, according to marketing guru Peter Montoya, needs to be “A clear, powerful, compelling public image.” Even if you are not actively cultivating a personal brand, you are nevertheless always building your brand – either to your benefit or to your detriment – by everything you do. How you act, what you say, what you do, the clothes you wear, the photos you post on Facebook and your work ethic are how you create your personal brand every day. One of the ways you can develop your brand (and you’re probably already doing it), is through social networking. Social networking can be defined as online communities that allow you to define your own online identity – including personal information (e.g., videos, photos, blogs). These sites allow you to enhance your ability to connect with others and share information. They are widely increasing in popularity and employers are now using them for candidate sourcing and information checking. For example, the New York Times reported a story about a consulting company looking to hire a summer intern. The company president went online to check on a promising candidate who had just graduated. On the candidate’s Facebook page, the executive found a description of the candidate’s interests: “smoking blunts,” shooting people, and obsessive sex, all described in vivid slang. It didn’t matter why the student had posted this information – he was no longer considered for the position. Along with Facebook, some of the more widely used sites for social networking are Twitter, Linked-In and MySpace. Using social media allows you to define your online identity – it’s an extension of your personal brand, so make sure your message is consistent with your in-person brand; choose your user name wisely, a profile photo that echoes your personal brand identity, and provide basic/ professional information only. A personal brand doesn’t happen overnight. It’s something you can develop over time. Remember, it’s not about creating a false impression of yourself; personal branding is about showing your best qualities to the world (and minimizing the not-so-great attributes)! Think about who you are and how you want others to perceive you – then make it happen. Remember, you are constantly evolving and so your brand should constantly evolve, too.

Three tips for


social networking 1. Update frequently. Keep your name fresh in other people’s minds by updating your online profile daily or 3-4 times weekly. Change your status, update information on your page, or post an interesting link. 2. Reciprocate. If you want others to help you, you should help them. If someone is job hunting, think of someone you could put them in contact with. Or send useful links or articles to people in your network. If you help them, chances are they’ll be more likely to help you. 3. Be professional. It’s important to highlight your interests and hobbies, but only write about the non-controversial ones, like skiing, reading, rock climbing, or volunteering at the local humane society.

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should be distinct; you don’t want to be a carbon copy of anyone else. You should identify your niche, create a buzz, advertise your skills, make your message timely, and create a sense of urgency.

IMPRESS in the




few years ago, a UW Systems Design Master’s thesis project spun into a groundbreaking start-up. The company set out to automate traffic data collection with an innovative hardware and software system. In 2005, three UW Systems Design grads started Miovision Technologies Incorporated. Today, Miovision employs almost 40 people, including full-time, part-time, and co-op employees.


While Miovision hires co-op students from Laurier, Conestoga College, and local high schools, the majority of their co-op employees come from Waterloo Engineering. Students love working at Miovision because of the relaxed culture; employees have flexible hours and wear jeans to work every day. The company organizes many employee-driven activities, such as paintballing, eating out, poker nights, and sports games. Rebecca Doerr, Human Resources Manager for Miovision, explains how students can impress in the interview – and land a job at Miovision!

What do you look for in a student’s résumé or cover letter? An excellent résumé will include customized content. I see so many résumés in an interview cycle that everything starts to look the same. When a résumé or an application jumps out at me, regardless of the position, I spend a bit more time on it. Take what you really want the employer to know about yourself and make that information stand out. I encourage students to accentuate volunteer experience, unique internships, part time jobs, or non-school related projects – anything that will differentiate them from others in their program. Similarly, a person’s cover letter should be tailored to the posting, because it speaks to why you are the best candidate for that position. Differentiate yourself from the other students.

What strategies can a student use to impress you in an interview? Research the company and come prepared with a list of questions. If somebody doesn’t know or doesn’t care to ask about the company, then I’m not sure why that person wants to work for Miovision. Show me that you’re interested. Inside sCo-op 9

Anything you can do at the interview – whether you can present grades or portfolio items – is an added bonus. Or bring a letter of recommendation from a volunteer position. These might not be materials that we ask for, but they are things you can present to make yourself a stronger candidate.

What should a student avoid during an interview? Having to refer to your résumé is never good. You should be able to comfortably talk about your past experiences. Also, if you don’t have questions about the company or about the position, it’s not a good indication for me that you really want to work there.

Is there anything else you would like to add? Evidence that you’re really passionate about something, such as writing, coding, or volunteering in your spare time, is important to highlight in order to differentiate yourself from the other candidates. The people I see who really excel are the people who love what they do so much that they’ll do it in their spare time. It’s important to reach out to people who are in similar interest groups to you and then leverage those contacts as you move through your university days and into your career.

Winter 2010 Issue 1  

Inside sCo-op Winter 2010 Issue 1