Our Student Spotlight features a student who has truly set an example for how to make the most of a co-op. Olivia Fitzpatrick, a 4th year Commerce student majoring in Marketing Management, has recently accepted an offer for full-time employment with her former co-op employer, Dash Hudson, a local company that focuses on helping businesses grow their brand through Instagram.
Olivia is from Bedford, Nova Scotia, and was drawn to Dalhousie and the Commerce program because of the opportunities available to gain real-world experience before graduation through work-integrated learning and experiential learning opportunities. She has achieved this by not only completing the three required co-op work terms, but also by opting to spend a semester studying abroad in France in her third year and by participating in the Rowe School of Business’ Israel Exchange this past year. On top of that, she is also a heavily involved member of the Dalhousie Community.
“Once at school, I got involved with anything I could. I’ve held various roles in The Dalhousie Commerce Society over three years as well as an executive position in the Rowe Women in Business Association for the past two years. […] I really just threw myself into whatever the school had to offer.”
After spending her first co-op work term at an accounting firm, Olivia realized that marketing might be a better fit for her. When it came time to begin her second work term job search, she knew that she wanted to try something completely different. At the time, Dash Hudson was still in the start-up phase of its operation. She found the prospect of working for a growing business to be very appealing, especially with the added responsibility that it would involve.
She joined Dash Hudson in the fall of 2017 as a Brand Strategy Intern on the company’s Demand Generation team. “My first role in Demand Generation really taught me a lot about hard work – it was a hustle to get all of my work done each day and it was at a time in the company where co-op students had the opportunity to take on a lot of responsibility, which I loved.”
Even before she had completed her first co-op with Dash Hudson, she had already taken the initiative to develop a new co-op position with the Sales Division and become that team’s first intern. According to Olivia, the company culture helped encourage her to pursue this possibility. In her words, “Dash Hudson is a company that not only supports, but also encourages you to constantly grow and develop your own ways to contribute to the overall company growth.”
On her second and final co-op with Dash Hudson she was able to gain a lot of hands-on experience and a greater understanding of their customer process.
Olivia didn’t approach her final co-op with the intention of securing post-grad employment, but rather she focused her efforts on learning as much as she could in her new role and also on better realizing her own strengths and weaknesses. While her post-grad plans were unclear at the end of last summer when she wrapped-up her work term, it was ultimately her proven dedication to her work, and to the organization, along with the strong relationships she had built with the team’s senior leadership, that would open the door to creating a self-developed full-time opportunity.
“When I heard through my old boss at the company that they were opening a UK Office in January 2019 with one employee, I knew I absolutely NEEDED to be the second [employee]. I reached out to the CEO and my old boss (who, by this time, I had known for over a year and a half) and they agreed to let me pitch my new position to them. Fast-forward to roughly three months later: we’ve created a job description together and I am set to move [to the UK] in July!”
Olivia’s new role will allow her to draw on and apply the skills and experience she earned over her two work terms with the organization.
“My new job title is UK Brand Strategist, so I will be mainly working on all things necessary to grow Dash Hudson’s UK brand presence. This includes everything from marketing and events in the UK to leading generation and sales development. Basically, anything that needs to be done to get Dash Hudson’s name out there in the UK!”
While her new role will come with a significant amount of responsibility compared to her co-op experience, Olivia feels confident in her ability to fulfill the role.
“I think they ultimately chose me for this role because they’ve seen me put in work from the start. As someone who has been with the company since it’s relatively early days, my enthusiasm to go after this role on my own really proved to them that I was ready to take it on. It’s a big responsibility and I think I’m most excited about the fact that they’ve trusted me with this opportunity to really take ownership of this role.”
Although it clearly took an abundance of different attributes and skills to accomplish everything that she has thus far, Olivia has identified the key trait that has defined her success – hard work.
“Be the co-op student that is willing to go beyond what is asked of you and take on more responsibility. Also, don’t be afraid to take initiative. Employers recognize that and it will open doors for you in the future.”
Are you looking to take control of your grad job search and optimize the outcomes? Check out the variety of full-time and grad job opportunities posted under the Career Services section of myCareer and book an appointment with your Career and Recruitment Specialist to receive one-on-one advice and support.