Meet Jinal Manek
Jinal Manek is going in to her 5th year at the University Guelph, working towards a Bachelors of Science studying Microbiology. Throughout the past four years, Jinal became involved as a Peer Helper and has successfully completed Co-op work terms at Gay Lea Foods and Environment and Climate Change Canada. Her work both on and off campus have proven to provide her with valuable communication, interpersonal skills, and experience that makes her stand out in her field. “U of G has provided me with many opportunities through my program, volunteering and work that has helped me develop my skills, perspective and my road to the future.” Jinal shares with us her experiences and the impact they’ve had on her professional life, and gives advice to anyone who might be interested in a similar career path.
What is your favourite thing about being a Peer Helper? Would you recommend it to others?
“Volunteering as a Career Services Peer Helper for 2 years, I learned valuable leadership and communication skills that really helped me reach out and network for potential co-op and work positions. I use this opportunity to guide as many new incoming students with the resources U of G has to offer that have personally helped me throughout my years.”
“My favourite part about being a Peer Helper at the Experiential Learning Hub is the opportunities the program provides. It allowed me to build my network along with developing many skills such as leadership, written and verbal communication. The sense of achievement while helping students of the university in building their cover letters and resumes is very rewarding and I truly recommend everyone to be part of a Peer Helper community.”
What would be one piece of advice that you would give to anyone looking to get laboratory experience?
“As a microbiology major, gaining laboratory skills is essential to build a strong portfolio; which I received while working as a work study laboratory technician at AHL. This further allowed me to build my laboratory and essential technical research skills which helped me in search for my co-op.”
“One piece of advice I would like to give to anyone looking for laboratory experience is to always be vocal about your interests and curiosity. Whether it may be to fellow friends, Teaching Assistants or Professors, always follow up on your curiosity and interest of their topic of study by introducing yourselves to them, asking them questions and express your desire to learn from them. Make use of other resources the University provides for its students, like the work study program that allows you to work while studying.”
Can you explain your roles at Gay Lea Foods and Environment and Climate Change Canada?
“While being enrolled in a co-op program, I had the opportunity to work in different industries giving me the exposure in a wide range of fields within Microbiology. At Gay Lea Foods, I worked as a Quality Control Laboratory Technician where I was given the responsibility to conduct quality checks in the fast-paced production facility and maintain proper documentation on paper and electronic laboratory notebook system along with performing many microbiology and chemistry tests. At Environment and Climate Change Canada, I worked as a Research Assistant in a Level 2 lab where I had the opportunity to work with soil samples and plan, design and carry out my own experiments. Co-op is a great opportunity provided by the University of Guelph to build essential skills required in the field which help in networking and gaining important experience for the future.”
What did a typical day at work look like for you in these Co-op work terms?
“The two co-op work terms were very different in environment where my day at Gay Lea Food was very fast paced with continuous standardized testing and quality checking in the production plant. On the other hand, my day as research assistant at ECCC allowed me to plan out the experiments, prepare for them and conduct them once all the planning is complete. Some days I would only be in the office, planning while other days I would only be in the lab conducting my experiment.”
What skills did you gain from your Experiential Learning and Co-op experiences that will help you with your chosen career path?
“Gaining the opportunity to involve myself on campus by joining the Experiential Learning Peer Helper Program was one of the best decisions I made during my time at University of Guelph. It allowed me the opportunity to network with people in my field along with developing many important skills such as verbal communication, leadership and initiative that helped me become a more confident individual. Co-op experiences helped me develop many technical, organizational, time management and laboratory skills making me a better and dependable microbiologist and helped me understand my field of interest when pursuing further education.”
How has Experiential Learning and Co-op helped you understand the workplace and/or your industry?
“Volunteering as a Peer Helper for the Experiential Learning Services as well as my Co-op experiences has helped me learn a lot about being part of a workplace. I learned how communication is the key to a successful workplace. Communication with team members and supervisors is crucial to make sure there is no misunderstanding and every task is completed without a hiccup. Co-op experiences have taught me to always take initiative and show enthusiasm for any task assigned. I always learned something new with a positive mindset.”