Meet Jasmine Merchant
Jasmine Merchant graduated from the University of Guelph in April 2020 with a BSc in Food Science. During her undergrad, Jasmine was part of the co-op stream for her program, allowing her to gain real-life experience in two different sides of the food industry, developing valuable skills and knowledge. She notes, “the biggest help I received from the Experiential Learning Hub was the resume and cover letter critiquing which helped me land my co-op positions at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Caldic Canada Inc. for my work terms”. Jasmine discusses all things Co-op with us, from her roles during her work-terms, to the benefits and what she learned from co-op, to advice for students looking for a co-op position!
What were your roles at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Caldic Canada Inc.? What tasks were you responsible for?
“At the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), I was responsible for the daily calibrations of balances used in the lab as well as conducting microbiological analysis of food samples that were dropped off by the inspectors. I was also responsible (along with the other analysts) to input these samples in our inventory. I was heavily involved with the daily maintenance and upkeep of the lab and in ensuring that all the needed supplies were stocked for us to carry out the required sample analysis.”
“At Caldic Canada Inc., I was responsible for preparing food samples needed to be shown at customer presentations as well as internal testing. Another big part of my role there was to prepare dry and liquid blends samples and perform quality control tests to ensure they complied with the standards.”
What did you learn from your co-op work terms?
“I've learned two very different aspects of the food industry due to my co-op work terms. At the CFIA, I learned how important food safety was as this ensures that Canadians are eating safe and nutritious food. My plate-streaking and pipetting skills were 10 times better after working here and it helped me do better in my Food Microbiology labs in class. At Caldic, I learned a lot more technical information about how various ingredients work together to deliver one cohesive final product. This information helped me greatly during my Product Development class in my final year as well as right now at my current job.”
How did co-op help you in your chosen career path?
“Co-op gave me so much information that I think my courses could not have given me on their own. To be able to apply what I learned in class, in a real-life situation gave me a better overall understanding of how and why things are done the way they are. Meeting and working with new people during my co-op terms helped me become a better team player and it narrowed down a path that I want to take to advance my career. The memories I made and the information I soaked up during my work terms has helped me hone my skills set and become a better worker.”
Tell us about your experience with the Experiential Learning Hub. How did this help lead to your co-op positions?
“COOP*1100 helped me change the way I thought about the job searching process. From having my resume revamped to understanding how important a well-written cover letter can help you stand out, it made looking for jobs less daunting.”
“Even during my job hunting process after graduating, I was thankful for the dashboard on the Experiential Learning website to look for jobs and it was very nice to see the extra effort put in by the staff to help the students feel better with everything that was going on with COVID. Thank you to everyone for making my co-op experience a memorable one!”
What advice would you give to someone looking for a co-op position?
“To anyone who's looking for co-op positions: Step 1: Breathe! You will find a job. Step 2: Take advantage of the Experiential Learning Hub staff who are willing to sit down with you and go over any questions you may have! Step 3: Be open minded and apply to every job whose description even mildly interests you, because you never know where it will lead you.”