My university experience has been a roller coaster, to say the least. From moving to a brand new city without knowing anyone to embarking on multiple co-ops in finance-related roles, I discovered who I wanted to become and the path I needed to take to get there.
My initial struggles in university
I struggled initially in my university career. I was born and raised in Kelowna, British Columbia and naturally, after high school, I decided to attend the local Okanagan College where I was enrolled in the school’s BBA program. I performed very well academically but I felt it was not enough. I wanted more out of my post-secondary experience so I decided to transfer to SFU. Transfer shock is a real phenomenon and I felt the harsh impact of it. Moving out for the first time in my life and sitting in large lecture halls with over one hundred people was a drastic change and it took me time to adjust. My grades dropped and I began to question if I made the right choice.
How I got started with co-op
During one of my first-year course lectures, some guest speakers from the co-op program came in to provide an information session on the benefits, requirements, and possibilities associated with the program. I was intrigued by the idea and decided to enroll myself and began applying to as many positions as I could.
After sending multiple applications to organizations with no response, I finally received an invitation for an interview at WorkSafeBC and eventually was offered an eight-month co-op position in Financial Services.
To give you a brief summary of the company, WorkSafeBC is an organization established by provincial legislation as an agency with the mandate to oversee a no-fault insurance system for the workplace in British Columbia. The organization’s mandate is to prevent workplace injuries, rehabilitate those who are injured, provide fair compensation to replace workers’ loss of wages while recovering from injuries and ensure sound financial management for a viable workers’ compensation system.
My time at WorkSafeBC
My experience working in the Finance Division at WorkSafeBC was a tremendous learning opportunity and was pivotal in my professional development. After finishing my eight-month co-op placement at WorkSafeBC, I began my quest to find my next co-op placement. Throughout my post-secondary career, I had always had a particularly strong interest in investment management. I applied to numerous capital market-related positions but felt hopeless because I wasn’t hearing back from any of my applications.
When I saw a posting for a co-op position at WorkSafeBC in their Investment Management Department as an Investment Analyst, I felt this was going to be my best opportunity to land a position given the strong connections I made at the organization during my previous tenure. After applying, I was invited for an interview and I was able to demonstrate my value, skills, and knowledge of the organization which enabled me to receive an offer for the position.
As an Investment Analyst, I was responsible for supporting the management of an $18 billion insurance fund and $2 billion pension fund. The Investment Management Department’s responsibilities are primarily focused on research, monitoring fund compliance and independently calculating performance figures to ultimately support the appointed Investment Committee and Pension Committee. On a day-to-day basis, I was responsible for inputting weekly trading data from our fund manager into databases, calculating performance figures, analyzing investment portfolio impact upon global market events and completing various investment reports for numerous stakeholders.
Highlights from my co-op term
Public speaking is a skill set that I have been striving to improve throughout my undergraduate career. During my eight-month work term, my manager provided me opportunities to develop this skill. I was able to present a total of three presentations. Two being safety presentations which are required to be completed by all WorkSafeBC divisions which cover general issues related to staff safety, health and wellness.
The third presentation I presented was to WorkSafeBC’s external auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers titled “Investments 101”. The presentation gave the auditors an overview of WorkSafeBC’s investments and the important role they play in the organization. This included an overview of WorkSafeBC’s current financial status, asset classes that make up the investment portfolios, and relevant stakeholders involved in the portfolio management process.
To say I wasn’t scared before this presentation would be a blatant lie but I am so thankful that I did it. I remember coming home from work that day with the biggest smile on my face, feeling proud of how far I have come. It was a fantastic learning experience and has significantly helped develop my confidence in public speaking.
Ultimately, this co-op experience has offered me so much value and has opened many doors. I had the opportunity to learn from top investment professionals, gain valuable exposure to the institutional investment environment and develop my technical and public speaking skills. The experiences here will last a lifetime. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to work in the Investment Management Department at WorkSafeBC and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.