I just completed my third co-op placement, but my first virtual co-op placement within the Marketing Management co-op program. April was a stressful time for many students as co-ops around the country were cancelled due to the pandemic. I was extremely lucky to have landed a co-op with a company that was still able to run its co-op program during the pandemic, and did an amazing job of creating a safe and exciting learning environment.
I worked as a Customer Experience Consultant for Bell Canada, and I loved every minute of it! This co-op experience was transformative as it allowed me to develop skills that I know will help me succeed in my future career, but also general skills for the virtual environment that has started to bleed into all aspects of my life.
After having some time to self-reflect about my experience, I’ve found five takeaways:
I learned how to be a better storyteller
A large part of my work at Bell involved creating recommendations that would help improve the Customer Experience at Bell, and we had the opportunity to present our findings and recommendations to high-level executives within the company. Throughout this process, I learned how to organize my thinking and piece it together with my groups’ findings to form a clear story that would resonate with Bell executives. I improved this skill while working with two small groups of interns within our cohort of over 50 interns.
I improved my analytic skills
Throughout the summer, all interns had the opportunity to become Author certified in the data visualization software Tableau. This certification allowed me to become more confident with data analysis. I was then able to apply and expand my analytics skills while working on my two team projects, which included analyzing internal data and providing recommendations based on our findings.
I learned how to network in the virtual environment
Initially, I was quite sad that I would not be getting to meet all of my coworkers in person, but the upside was I learned how to network in the virtual environment. This is important now more than ever with many companies converting to work from home situations, but it has always been a good skill to have as companies often have to network virtually due to coworkers and clients being across the globe. Beyond my project members, the culture at Bell really encouraged us to set up coffee chats with people around the business that interested us. I personally have an interest in the Bell Media side of the business, and I was able to virtually meet with a couple of employees in the new graduate program within Bell Media.
I gained a new appreciation for call centre and e-chat agents
My role involved learning how to be an e-chat agent and then serving customers as an e-chat agent. This was so we could utilize our first-hand frontline experience to provide recommendations on how to improve the customer experience. Throughout this process, I learned all the behind the scenes that go into these types of jobs, and I learned truly how hard these types of jobs are. This appreciation is something I will carry with me whenever I need to reach out to an e-chat agent or call centre employee in the future.
I earned income to help pay my tuition while staying safe
All Ted Rogers School of Management co-op positions are paid positions, and this includes my placement at Bell. For the first time ever, I was able to complete all of my work from the comfort of my bedroom, and I was still able to make money to help pay for my rent and university tuition.
I improved my self-discipline
As a university student, self-discipline is one of the first things you learn, as you must make the right choices and choose to study and attend class even when there may be more exciting things to do. However, this internship allowed me to improve this skill even more as I worked from home.
I had to motivate myself every day to stay on task and be on time without in-person supervision. This included motivating myself to go on walks during my lunch breaks and after work to break up my screen time, and keep me focused throughout the day. As I worked with my project teams, we all had each other for support through Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but ultimately it was our own self-discipline that allowed us to deliver a project to the executives that we were proud of, and they found to be done well in the end. The work ethic I developed is something that I am proud of and will continue to work on during my final co-op next semester!
Are you interested in learning more about the Ted Rogers School of Management Co-op program? Head to ryerson.ca/trsm-co-op/.