In my final co-op semester, my goal was to work for a large company. I had worked for a medium-sized firm and a small business in my first two co-op terms, and it seemed like the natural next step to take. However, I didn’t expect that I would be working for Canada’s largest bank—the Royal Bank of Canada. By actively moving towards this opportunity as opposed to passively sending in just another application, I had the chance to expand my professional horizon and live out the experience I had been aiming for.
I discovered this RBC opportunity in January when a team of RBC recruiters came to SFU to host one-on-one resume workshops and information sessions. These gave students the opportunity to learn about the RBC student program and also get free advice on how to improve their professional documentation. I attended both meetings to learn more about the company and what their student program was like as well as to get advice on my resume. This paid off immensely as the recruiter who represented RBC ended up being the same recruiter who I addressed my application to!
Even though I didn’t think I would be working for a bank since I am not a finance major, RBC hires around 400 co-op students every summer for technology and operations positions! (Pro-tip: if a company in your concentration area hosts any on-campus events, especially ones that can help your applications in general, go to them!)
When I was offered the job in March, I had a choice: stay in Vancouver and keep looking for a local job, or accept and move to the Toronto area. It was a tough choice, but I knew this presented the best work and life experience for me. I accepted, and in May I left to live in Guelph.
I have now learned what it feels like to work in a massive company like RBC, and see the kind of internal opportunities it can offer to eager students and employees. Although I was not based in a downtown Toronto office like most of the students, I gained a unique experience by working in one of the company’s data centres and assisting in the governance of these locations.
The work I have done here is impactful on a global scale and has taught me about strategy and long-term planning in business. I have competed in an internal competition for students which lays out challenges to help broaden your skillset and engage with the company. Out of nearly 400 students that participated, I finished 15th, which isn’t bad considering I wasn’t downtown where most of the student events were held.
I will still be involved with RBC when I finish this semester, as I have signed on to be a SFU Beedie representative for the company this fall. As a Vancouver student, this is a great opportunity to stay involved with RBC, and to tell other students what a great experience an RBC co-op job is.
By moving towards this initial opportunity, and taking advantage of the ones available in the company, I have now opened many more future opportunities and gained a plethora of valuable experiences along the way. As a student, don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone when applying for your jobs as the best opportunities are often the ones you need to go furthest to reach.
Mark Trendell-Jensen is a BBA student concentrating in Management Information Systems and Operations Management with a certificate in Business Analytics and Decision Making. During his time at SFU, Mark has completed four co-op work terms with three different companies and has gained international experience through an academic exchange at the Copenhagen School of Business in Denmark. Currently, he serves as a Student Campus Ambassador for the Royal Bank of Canada.