Valuable work experience, inspiring mentors, and helpful references
At the end of my first year at UBC, I applied to several Work Learn jobs. Being a science student, I was interested to work in a lab so that I could learn about science outside of the classroom setting. The thought of working on campus while taking summer classes was an added perk.
I took advantage of career programs at UBC, and since I started here, my career trajectory looks something like this: Work Learn –> Work Learn –> Co-op –> Co-op –> Work Learn
Each job set me up for the next. It was all about taking that first step and being open to trying new things. My first two Work Learn jobs were key to my current success because when I applied to the UBC Science Co-op Program in my 3rd year at UBC, I already had work experiences and references to set me up for success.
Work Learn is exactly like it sounds
I was surprised at how flexible and accommodating the positions were to student life. Besides checking in with me to see what I wanted learn on the job, my employers were always really understanding about academic commitments – as long as I was committed to the job and got my work done. Work Learn was an excellent opportunity for me to get work experience on campus, be paid well, and to explore work related to my area of study.
Test-driving career options with Work Learn
Every supervisor that I’ve had in the program was supportive and always asked me what I was interested in learning and what skills I wanted to develop. As a lab assistant I got to know what it was like to work with passionate scientists, and how a lab functions in general. There were days when I would clean chemical glassware, and other days where I got to culture hamster ovarian cells, run PCRs, and perform literature searches for DNA Primer Sequences — the range of tasks is thanks to my supervisors offering me the chance to trying something new. On the flip side of that, there were times when I took the initiative to voice what I wanted to learn. I loved my time working in labs, but when I went on to my first co-op job in a non-lab setting, I realized there were other work environments that I enjoyed and was interested to explore. The takeaway was that I had to experience different things to know what I was most suited for and what I was most passionate about.
Each job set me up for the next. It was all about taking that first step and being open to trying new things.
Starting and ending with Work Learn at UBC
I am a huge advocate of the UBC Work Learn Program. It has opened up so many doors for me, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. I have a solid set of references, which are key to getting jobs, but what’s more invaluable are the mentorship and the friendships that I’ve made in a professional setting. I am incredibly grateful to the individuals that I have met and worked with. I am ending my last UBC term in a Work Learn position at the UBC Sustainability Initiative, where I work to plan, maintain, and promote Sustainability events, programs, and resources on campus – and I wouldn’t have it any other way
Every job will require collaboration, communication and...Excel
What I’ve taken away from my past jobs is how important it is learn how to collaborate with different types of people. Communication (verbal and written) will also be crucial in any job, no matter what industry or role. And from what I’ve experienced, Excel skills need to be top-notch! A good attitude and some skills may get you hired, but you need to really take charge of your own learning in order to get the most out of each job to take you to the next level.