Meet Nicole Bevan:
Nicole Bevan is currently in her 4th year in Marketing Management Co-op at the University of Guelph. Nicole’s first co-op work term was working as Marketing & Communications Co-op in the Office of the Vice-Provost (Student Affairs), where she gained valuable skills in collaboration, organization, marketing, digital communications, and more. Nicole made a large impact within the University community during this co-op as she worked with the 6 departments within the Division and 15+ committees Chaired by the Office of the Vice Provost, to help inspire greater collaboration and coordination of student services across campus. Nicole shares more about this co-op work term and experience within the Office of the Vice-Provost, as well as her tips for other co-op students, and about her involvement within various student organizations including the Lang Student Association (LSA), Marketing Management Students’ Association (MMSA), and Guelph Entrepreneurship Society (GES).
What was your first co-op work term like? What did you do and learn?
“My first co-op placement was working for the Office of the Vice-Provost (Student Affairs) as their Marketing & Communications Co-op and working collaboratively with the members of the Division’s Communication Team. My first co-op experience was definitely a unique experience unlike anything I had heard about other students’ previous co-op work terms. My first co-op work term was during Covid restrictions, which meant my entire placement was done virtually via Microsoft Teams/Zoom. On top of learning all of the requirements for my new position within the team, I also had to adapt to learning this new workplace environment of being completely online. I was responsible for effective communications among employees and main-campus students (within the University) with the goal of sharing information that will ultimately help the student experience by promoting greater awareness of services/programs, and by inspiring greater collaboration and coordination of student services and programs across the University. In addition, I was also responsible for assisting in the overall marketing efforts of the Office of the Vice-Provost (Student Affairs), including but not limited to working with the 6 departments within the Division and 15(+) committees Chaired by the Office of the Vice-Provost.”
What was your favourite part about this work term?
“My favourite part about this work term would have to be the new knowledge of digital media skills I gained throughout the 8 months. During my placement, I was responsible for creating weekly and daily graphics for the Student Experience Instagram/Facebook pages. I found it very rewarding to see the audience’s reactions and responses to each of the graphics I created. I can remember the day I created the Bernie Sanders meme on @uofgstudentexp and the positive response we got from our audience was definitely a highlight event during my placement. It ended up being one of the top liked photos on the @UofGStudentExp page! Seeing what content performed well and what content didn’t perform as high will definitely be an important learning skill I will use for my future in digital marketing.”
What was your biggest takeaway?
“My biggest takeaway would have to be the amazing leadership and support from all of my co-workers. Student Affairs has 6 departments reporting to them including Athletics, Student Experience, Child Care and Learning, Student Housing, The Experiential Learning Hub, and Student Wellness. The virtual workplace became very beneficial with meetings and working alongside a number of different teams as I was able to attend more team meetings efficiently on Microsoft Teams versus myself running around campus to different team meetings. As a student, I found it very beneficial working alongside all 6 of these departments as I was able to learn about the variety of programs and services each of the departments has to offer to students. Working on these large teams at a high level showcased the importance of strong professional & ethical behavior to create cohesive messaging across the teams.”
How did this co-op work term align with your career, personal, and/or academic goals?
“This co-op work term aligned with my goals in a variety of ways including improving my written communication skills, visual literacy skills, and improving my critical & creative thinking abilities. My goal throughout my placement was to gain more experience with professional writing examples and gain a better understanding of the writing techniques needed for each specific audience. I was able to achieve my goal of improving my written communication skills by creating the end of the year report recapping the division's 2019/2020 highlights. This report required myself to condense long in-depth written pieces into smaller eye-grabbing pieces of content. In addition, I was given the opportunity to collaborate with the winter CCS co-op student to create a new interactive and inclusive homepage. This project was a huge success as it has been more than 5 years since the previous refresh of the design layout. Through this experience, I was able to gain knowledge of visual literacy including AODA requirements for websites and the use of branding colors. As well, during my 8-month work term, I completed 13 email newsletters sent out to 20,000 U of G students bi-weekly. At the end of the semester using critical and creative thinking skills, I was able to create a visual report with statistical information showcasing the important data such as audience numbers and content engagement numbers.”
How did your experience with student organizations including LSA, MMSA, and GES help you in this co-op work term?
“My experience with student organizations for sure helped the transition from student to an employee with the school as these student organizations are very similar to real professional roles. My roles within the different student organizations helped me to gain skills in event planning, social media creation, and professional networking skills that I was able to apply throughout my co-op placement with Student Affairs. As well, I found it very beneficial to both teams as I was able to bring the student organizations' audience attention to the variety of Student Affairs programs/services. For example, I was able to help promote the Student Affairs Stress Buster Activity Book on each of the student organization’s social media platforms.”
What are you hoping to do for future work terms?
“For my future work terms, I am hoping Covid restrictions will loosen up and I will have the ability to work in person at my placement’s office. My experience with an online work term was above and beyond expectations, but I would still like the chance to learn what it is like to work in the office. As for my future role, I would like to continue with the marketing industry but learn more about content creation. More specifically I would like to have the opportunity to learn more about influencer marketing and learn more about the brand side of the relationship they have while working with influencers.”
What's it like balancing student clubs, academics, and co-op? What is your biggest tip for staying organized?
“The first few weeks were definitely very challenging as I was trying to adjust into a new role and switching to an online campus environment. There were those few days that I felt like I was on my computer 24/7 with back-to-back meetings, but in the end, it was all worth it as I was able to succeed in all three areas. My biggest tip for staying organized would be to make sure you have a detailed calendar notebook and have a digital copy on your Microsoft calendar (or any digital platform calendar). I found these two different types of calendars helped me succeed in my balanced work schedule as I was able to write down detailed day-by-day plans in my planner and the digital calendar was very beneficial as I was able to store online meeting links that were easy to access, instead of digging through emails looking for the meeting invite links.”
What's your advice for other Gryphons in co-op, or applying for co-op jobs?
“My advice for other Gryphons would be don’t let those first few rejection emails discourage you from the rest of your co-op application processes. I remember the first rejection email I felt like it was my fault for not being qualified enough and felt very discouraged to continue. But with the support and guidance from the EL Hub, I was able to build up my confidence while applying to co-op jobs and felt better after each interview even if I didn’t get the position. I felt more comfortable with interviewing after each one and even if I didn’t receive the role, I was able to gain a new interview skill that I could apply to the next interview moving forward in the job search.”