Co-op student works hard toward career aspirations
Iryna Horodnychenko has always been focused on her career ambitions as an accountant. Armed with previous experience in her home country of Ukraine, she landed in Calgary a few years ago faced with a decision about which school was the best choice to continue her education.
She chose to enrol in the Business Administration Diploma, Accounting Major at Bow Valley College, and graduated not only with top marks, but with enhanced marketability with a co-op work term.
“I had different things to consider before making a decision about where to study, such as the quality of education provided, whether the instructors have industry experience, resources available on campus, classes sizes, and location. Another important aspect for me was the availability of a co-op program,” she says.
Just before her program was about to end, she worked with the student engagement officers at the Chiu School of Business in order to prepare for the shift from school to the workforce.
“The student engagement officers helped me improve my résumé and develop my interview skills, then we assessed my skills and strengths and identified opportunities,” Iryna states. “They connected me with people working in the accounting field, giving me an opportunity to learn about my career path.”
Her co-op application brought her to PBS Financial Systems Inc., under the direction of Kevin Ross, manager of accounting for PBS Financial Systems Inc. Although they weren’t actively hiring at the time, he says the co-op opportunity turned out to be a good fit for everyone.
“We started her in accounts payable, and she moved quickly to billing,” he states. ”There were also other one-off projects that we wanted to complete that we never had the time for that we knew we could give to her because she had the education and underlying skill set. She also had a desire to learn. From an employer’s perspective, that’s more valuable than just relying on education or experience.”
Kevin adds that companies should take advantage of the benefits of work placements and co-ops.
“It seems everyone can use an extra pair of hands in their department. Students tend to be quite ready for the workplace. They are an untapped market that bring a lot of skills and are looking to learn as much as possible in a short period of time.”
Megan Kinal, student engagement officer at the Chiu School of Business says co-op work terms are often a first entry into either the workforce or a new career field. The end-to-end support students receive and the solid relationships developed with employers looking for extra help is a powerful combination.
“Students who participate in work terms are often proactive and work with us to seek the right information so they can make the most of their time in their program and plan for the future,” Megan says. “Securing a co-op requires proactive effort by the student, and we provide the support needed to help them to stay motivated and confident.”
Iryna believes Bow Valley College’s co-op program is a great opportunity for students who are just starting their professional career path, and for international students willing to gain practical experience after the graduation.
“It is a smooth transition from the classroom to real industry experience and students can demonstrate professional skills they honed during the term. We all dream about the perfect workplace and this program is a big step forward to get this.”
For more information, visit our work experience and co-op work term pages.
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Posted on October 15, 2018
Story by Donna Gray, photo by Chris Bolin