A unique aspect of my career is my dual faculty role at Thompson Rivers University as a Co-op Coordinator and Career Counsellor. I am often asked how I handle two different roles effectively. To be completely honest my two roles complement each other incredibly well and serve students to a higher level when combined. Below I’ll illustrate how two areas of my job overlap.
1. Employers – Job development and relationship building are common job responsibilities in both Co-op and Career service worlds. In both roles I tend to meet with employers at events or during one on one meetings. My approach to building relationships with employers is focused on increasing involvement and commitment to the university and our students, therefore, when I meet with employers I speak to both my roles at the university and explain how each role can offer slightly different services. I find this approach effective because it illustrates all our services available within Career and Experiential Learning at TRU. If certain options don’t work for an employer, we can usually find an option that does work.
A recent example: In April 2018 an employer who was reluctant to hire Co-op students contacted me to post a career service posting. When we discussed Co-op programing, the HR Advisor (who was new to the organization) was unaware of our programs. I explained how the programs work and was told the organization was unable to hire Co-op students as it didn’t fit into the work cycle. I accepted that and posted their career service job to our university job board. Later that week, I had a Co-op student appointment to review their job search plan and approaches. They were very close to graduating and were concerned they weren’t going to find a work term. The recent job posting came to mind and I suggested they apply. The next day I had a career service student appointment with a student in the same discipline. They were interested in the job posting they had recently saw on the TRU career connections page and wanted to know more. Both students were excellent students well suited for the position. I contacted the employer and asked if I could send her a Co-op student resume and a career service student resume. Upon receiving the applications, the employer interviewed both students and presented offers to both.
In August 2018, the employer and I met to discuss the Co-op program further and about how they could be involved on campus further to connect with students better. The employer then posted 1 more job posting but this time it was through career services AND Co-op. In September 2018, the employer attended a Co-op class to talk about their organization, attended an employer event on campus, and interviewed 6 of my students (a mixture of career service and Co-op students). Job offers were presented to 2 Co-op students and 2 career service students. My dual role allowed me to build and develop an employer that suited both sides of our department and served our students better. As the employer became more involved on- campus, their commitment to hiring TRU students increased and yielded a higher number of job offers to TRU students (only 1 external university student was hired at that same time).
2. Students – In regards to student appointments I schedule certain days for career services and certain days for Co-op. I find it allows me to organize my week and focus primarily on career services or co-op while managing my time. Quite often I find myself utilizing knowledge from both sides of my workload when meeting with students. Lately, I’ve been finding this most helpful during co-op student appointments since our BBA program is full. When hopeful students enquire about our co-op program I explain our waitlist procedures, but then quickly switch to services offered through career services. At TRU students must be accepted into the Co-op Program before they can enroll in Co-op 1000 (our career course). However, career service students can still access resume development, cover letters, assessments, interview skills, job search plans, and career planning – All components of our course. As a career advisor, I’ve helped students develop an e-portfolio, plan an informational interview, create a job search plan and complete a variety of personality and skills assessments.
Additional perks to my dual role is an increased access to professional development opportunities due to my dual departmental role. Additionally, I have the ability to develop skills in each field. For example, if I want to increase my advising skill set (career services) this knowledge will transfer to Co-op student appointments too. If I want to develop my curriculum (Co-op) on career planning this knowledge will transfer to my career service appointments. In summary, I find my dual faculty role at Thompson Rivers University complement each other and allow me to better serve our student population and employer base.
Jamie Noakes, B.A., M.ES
BBA Co-operative Education Coordinator and Career Services Counsellor
Career and Experiential Learning |Thompson Rivers University