Amber Watts is a fourth year Bachelor of Commerce student, majoring in International Business. Throughout the course of her degree, she successfully completed three co-ops within the public sector; first with Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network (EDN), and then her second and third co-ops were with Canadian federal government departments, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and Global Affairs Canada – Trade Commissioner Service (GAC), respectively.
Amber’s decision to major in International Business affected her co-op job search as she looked for positions that would tie into her major. Because of her initial co-op experience, she further developed specific interest in International Business Development, and her subsequent work terms reflect that interest. “My major made me interested in the global economy, and my co-ops have taught me about working with entrepreneurs at all lengths of the business development continuum. I looked for positions that would give me exposure to global operations, and those that were involved with working with entrepreneurs.”
Amber obtained her co-ops through utilizing her network and myCareer, “I found my first co-op using only myCareer as I had little to no professional experience beforehand and had a small network. My second position was secured through my network: I first saw the posting on myCareer and knew that ACOA funded EDN and I was able to get in touch with my network to make introductions for me to secure an interview, and then the position itself. I used a similar tactic with my third position – ACOA and GAC are business development partners, and I was able to use connections at ACOA to introduce me to the team at GAC.”
Gaining experience and building transferable skills allowed Amber to secure future co-ops. For example, experience in communicating with clients was something Amber brought with her from her first co-op to her third co-op. Additionally, she recommends data literacy and knowledge of business development and international trade as being important skills to have in order to ensure a successful International Business co-op.
For students searching for their next co-op position, Amber advises to “take advantage of the resources they have access to, be it myCareer or their internal network, and not to be shy to apply for a variety of positions. Most times the actual job is a lot more than what is described on the job posting, and the employers have created the positions with the aim to teach students how to apply the knowledge they have learned in the classroom in a real-life setting.”
“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and to learn, take advantage of every opportunity presented to you during your co-op and take the initiative to make your co-op an interactive experience by attending conferences, trade shows or events,” says Amber.
To learn more about what it’s like to work in International Business, refer to the International Business industry fast sheet in the Student Resources section of myCareer.