Previous Success Stories
Degree: Bachelor of Commerce
Major: Management Economics (Co-op)
A recent graduate of a successful Bachelor of Commerce Co-op program, Alexandra Zolis is a co-op success! She reflects on her undergraduate career at U of Guelph as a rewarding and valuable experience. She particularly chose to study at Guelph because it was fairly close to home and allowed her to fast track to a Certified Management Accountant designation. Apart from academics, Alexandra also participated in women’s and co-ed intramural soccer teams throughout her undergrad career, thereby providing a nice study break and social enjoyment. Despite having acquired valuable experience through her co-op work terms with Canada Revenue Agency, Kellogg Canada, Hydro One, and Ontario Financing authority, Alexandra was overwhelmed with the job search after graduation and quickly realized that that process can become a full time job! However, her perseverance paid off as she secured a Financial Analyst position with Hydro One where she currently manages budgets and purchase orders, executes initiatives that improve customer satisfaction, and supervises and mentors co-op students. Alexandra advises first-year students “Don’t give up on the co-op program! Securing a first work term is extremely challenging, but its well worth it in the end. My work terms allowed me to find a full time job right after graduation.” All the best in the future Alexandra!
Degree: Bachelor of Commerce
Major: Public Management (Co-op)
Erica Motheral reflects on her undergraduate career as a challenging yet rewarding experience. As a first year student, Erica strongly considered her "perfect career" to be that of politics. Currently serving as a Media and Community Relations Assistant, Erica’s idea of the “perfect career” has definitely changed. She describes her career path changes as a product of her co-op work term experiences with Guelph Police Service, Farmers Feed Cities, and Ontario Farm Animal Council, “these work experiences have been extremely beneficial in highlighting both my strengths and weaknesses and have pointed me in the direction I would like to go upon graduation." As a result, Erica pursued a career in Public Relations – Event Planning/Co-coordinating. Although a commuting student, Erica managed to make use of the student aid groups available on campus, particularly Student Learning Groups (SLG’s). To Erica and many other students, these groups were extremely beneficial in helping her grasp a better understanding of challenging course material, and interact with other students. In this way, Erica began to think of the University of Guelph as her “home away from home”. To graduating students, Erica advises, “employers are looking for experience – don’t be afraid to brag about yourself and the skills you have acquired.” An example of the manner in which the co-op program can aid in career choices, we wish Erica all the best in her perfect career!
Degree: Bachelor of Commerce
Major: Marketing Management (Co-op)
A third-year student, Katherine Jonker has set new goals for herself! Her vibrant and genuine personality led her to the University of Guelph campus community, which she describes as “amazing, down to earth, upbeat and energetic, laid- back at times when necessary, and generally just good, genuine people”. Apart from her appreciation of the inviting atmosphere, Katherine is a Brand Ambassador for the University of Guelph Marketing Society, as well as a University of Guelph Ambassador. In addition, she keeps active by participating in intramural volleyball and ice hockey, and volunteering with the Information Desk as a Peer Helper. Katherine plans to get more involved this school year, because she believes that student groups have helped her discover who she is! However, Katherine has found the most challenging task of her undergraduate career thus far to be juggling an immense plate of responsibilities and new experiences all at once. Despite her challenges, Katherine is now sure of her career path. Her current work term placement with the University of Guelph SPARK (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge) Writer Program as a Student Writer has afforded her the opportunity to recognize her enthusiasm for writing, photography, and videography by overseeing social media efforts and acting as the liaison between SPARK and publications. By exploring her options, and being open to new possibilities, Katherine now hopes to be a business writer, working for a well-run and successful magazine or newspaper. Katherine advises fist-year students, “find your passion by trying out new things, and putting yourself in situations outside of your comfort zone. Be the person you want to be and try to find yourself as an individual as well as a team player.” We look forward to seeing you thrive in your future career Katherine!
Mike’s diverse co-op experiences in the business and marketing sectors have done an excellent job of preparing him for life after graduation, thanks to his strong initiative and proactive attitude.
Mike chose to study U of G because he recognized the value in the co-op program, noting that “Being able to display your skills and knowledge in a work setting before you leave University is invaluable and I knew that if I could gain some good experience through the co-op program, I would be even more ready to enter the workforce and contribute successfully immediately”.
Throughout his work terms with Linamar, RIM, Alcon Vision Care and Foodland Ontario, Mike took advantage of the variety in his duties and was involved with many aspects of business. From human resources and project management to experiential marketing and organizing major stakeholder events, Mike’s well-rounded experiences allowed him to discover his interests and aspirations while being involved in some very cool assignments, including shooting a television commercial. Before graduating, Mike secured a position with the University of Guelph as a Liaison Officer – looks like this phenomenal Gryphon is here to stay!
We’re very confident that Mike will excel in his new position, and look forward to hearing about his future successes!
Marc Gaudet de Lestard, Class of 2015
Degree: Bachelor of Commerce
Major: Marketing Management
Marc is one of the very few students who can actually say they have their own business before even graduating university. The embodiment of entrepreneurial spirit, Marc’s passion and dedication to running a business and running it well is truly admirable. Marc is a leader, paving the way for future students and demonstrating how taking control of your co-op experience can open many important doors for after graduation.
After successfully completing two “conventional” co-op work terms, Marc decided to take a risk and embark on a business venture for his third co-op term this summer. Instead of working under a supervisor, Marc is his own boss at The Funnel Cloud, a unique food business selling delicious funnel cakes at summer festivals and events ranging from farmer’s markets to car shows. As business is rapidly growing, The Funnel Cloud (in its second year with more than doubled operations) is now trying to break into catering corporate events, having caught the eye of major companies like Telus.
Why funnel cakes? Marc got the idea after a rainy day at Canada’s Wonderland, where he noticed the line for the tasty pastry was longer than the lines for the roller coasters. He saw that people were willing to wait for so long (and to pay for such expensive funnel cakes!) because they are near impossible to find anywhere else. Marc saw an opportunity to take advantage of this demand, and the rest is history.
Marc is also a nationally competitive gymnast, and harnesses the skills he’s honed as an athlete to channel his proven motivation, perseverance and optimism into becoming a successful business owner. Running a business is no easy feat, and Marc has encountered challenges along the way. The jam-packed weekend schedule that comes with the job means 4 am wake-up times and many late nights in order to prepare for the next day. However, Marc embraces these challenges, noting that “it is necessary to experience the bad days in order to realize and appreciate the good ones… For today, I found that the most helpful method of maintaining motivation was living in the only moment of time in which you have any real control: now”.
About his experience so far, Marc reflects "The University has provided me with an opportunity to pursue my passion and continue building my business while still enrolled as a full-time student. The experience has opened so many doors in my life; I could not be more grateful". Marc has found great support and inspiration from his faculty advisor Elliott Currie, remarking that he has “proved to have a wealth of knowledge beyond my reasonable comprehension. His attitude and view towards business and life in general was always comforting and often reassuring. My hope is to share his positive morals and the effects he has on others one day”. We’re confident that with his amazingly positive attitude, Marc will definitely achieve this and much more!
So what’s next for The Funnel Cloud? Marc says, “My goal is to break further into the school district market as a motivator to younger students about the possibilities and realities of opening your own business… I plan to continue expanding business operations even after graduation with the goal of opening up another unique food franchise to accompany ‘The Funnel Cloud’ at festivals and events”. We’re excited to watch The Funnel Cloud grow, and can’t wait to hear about Marc’s next great idea!
Degree: Bachelor of Engineering
Major: Biological Engineering (Co-op)
As a fifth year student, Laura Doyle has thoroughly enjoyed her U of Guelph experience! Like several students, Laura entered first-year having a goal towards beginning work immediately as an Engineer upon graduating. However, her career aspirations changed as her courses grew more specific. Now, Laura envisions exploring the medical side of her degree and working in the medical industry in some capacity. To maximize her opportunities, Laura is currently working as a Design Engineer in the underground mining division of Caterpillar in Australia. Her work entails the use of 3-D models to understand the mechanics of mining equipment in development. Apart from excelling in her academics, Laura is also a member of the women’s soccer and volleyball intramural teams at the university. In addition, Laura is an avid volunteer with the Engineering Society and participates in several student-run events, especially “Science and Engineering Sunday”. With her extremely positive outlook on life, Laura’s favorite quote which has guided her throughout her university experience is “Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress. Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.” We look forward to seeing Laura thrive!
Degree: Bachelor of Engineering
Major: Biomedical Engineering (Co-op)
A third year student, Justin Michael is on his way to success! A Guelph native, Justin chose to continue his studies at the University of Guelph because it allowed him immediate specialization in his field of interest, Biomedical Engineering. Academically, Justin is enjoying his program environment due to the tight-knit and supportive engineering community at the University. Whilst maintaining an overall A average, Justin is also a member of the Engineering Society and Varsity Rowing Team. He hopes to merge his two interests with developing medical technologies suitable for rowing athletes and alike, with respect to performance enhancement. Although Justin is only beginning his co-op journey, he is already making a phenomenal contribution at his first co-op placement with the Center for Global eHeatlh Innovation. His advice to first year students is “figure out what you want, and go get it…most people miss the first step”. All the best Justin!
For Matt Swift, being a co-op student did not come without challenges, but the rewards far outweighed any struggles. Currently in his fourth year of the Mechanical Engineering co-op program, Matt chose co-op at Guelph because it was close to home and allowed him to fulfill his keen interest in mechatronics while gaining practical experience through a well-established program. When asked about the most challenging event of his undergraduate career, Matt stated that it was definitely “balancing a busy engineering schedule with co-op and still wanting to get the full university experience of playing on intramural teams and meeting new people.” Nevertheless, Matt has clearly done quite well in his co-op journey. While on his work term with GE Healthcare Canada, Matt was a recipient of the 2012 Early Identification Award—also known as the Student Intern and Co-op Contribution Award. This award recognizes the top 3% of students for their outstanding contributions across all GE Businesses. Matt believes the role he played in helping to get the first anesthetic vapourizer testing process approved in Canada contributed to his achievement of this impressive award. After completing 2 work terms and courses to provide a solid knowledge base, Matt feels that his career path has become much clearer, whereas his idea of he might like to do when he graduates used to be quite broad. “I knew from my interest in math and science that I wanted to work in some engineering or design field,” he stated. So far, Matt has worked for ABS Friction and GE Healthcare Canada. “My goal in the future is to work on process improvement for a power generation or distribution company,” Matt now says confidently, when asked about the insight he has gained regarding his career path through his experience in co-op. Matt’s advice for first year students is to seriously consider the co-op program, even if they are not enrolled as of yet. According to Matt, co-op “will help you to pay your tuition and provide you with invaluable experience”. He also encourages students to find a solid balance between school and social life to ensure they get the full university experience. We wish Matt continued success in his co-op adventures and beyond!
Degree: Bachelor of Environmental Sciences
Major: Natural Resource Management (Co-op)
Daina made the decision to attend the University of Guelph due to its reputation for having a strong Environmental Sciences Co-op program. She also felt that the university community seemed strong for only being medium sized, which contributed to her thoughts on the campus having a lot of character. Knowing that the university had so much to offer, she took advantage of this and became a Peer Helper with Career Services, “while participating in this program, I became aware of the power we have as individuals to make the most of our job experiences” she states. Furthering this, having the opportunity to sit on and help organize an event for the Environmental Sciences Symposium Executive helped enhance her ability to liaise professionally with environmental agencies and organizations. But with every university experience, challenges arise that test one’s ability to be successful. Daina was no exception, “the most challenging event during my undergrad was most likely the process of obtaining meaningful employment in the field of my studies.” What allowed Daina to overcome this was her active participation and perseverance in the co-op program to help increase her marketability to employers. This determination helped her land four co-op placements that all individually helped enrich her knowledge and skills of the Environmental Science degree. These placements include: Environment Canada, Ministry of Natural Resources in the Species at Risk, Plant Agriculture Department at the University of Guelph and finally, the Ministry of Natural Resources in Fish and Wildlife Biology. Presently, aided by her co-op experiences, she has secured a position as a Wetland Field Coordinator for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. As we wish the best for Daina in the future, she has one piece of advice for students, “Be ambitious. Pursuing your academic ambitions in the job market is hard, be persistent, create opportunities through strong initiative. Be invested in yourself, you can do it!”
Degree: Bachelor of Science
Major: Food Science (Co-op)
A recent Guelph graduate, Lorraine Li is a wonderful example of utilizing networking practices to achieve career goals! Given that her two elder sisters secured a full-time job fairly quickly after graduating from a Guelph co-op program, Lorraine was well aware of what the co-op program has to offer. However, her decision to study at this university was largely influenced by the community atmosphere. She describes the Guelph community as “a fine balance between academics, extracurricular, and volunteer opportunities.” Not one to reject challenges, Lorraine immersed herself in a variety of student groups whilst maintaining a strong average, including Project Serve, Forward Minds (Wellness Centre), Peer Helper Program, and a Food Science Representative at College Royal. Interestingly, a previous co-op placement at Loblaw’s cemented her interest in Quality Assurance. Lorraine explains, “I really liked quality assurance in the retail setting. This is where I want to be”. Following her interests and determined to pursue this field, Lorraine maintained contact with the team at Loblaw’s. As a result, Lorraine was able to secure a position as a Senior Coordinator for Essential Quality Assurance at Loblaw’s prior to graduation! She advises first-year students to “have fun, but use their time wisely. It’s never too early to get started and get involved!” All the best in the future Lorraine!
Degree: Bachelor of Science
Major: Biochemistry (Co-op)
Jenny Stodola represents a strong scientific student and innovative thinker. An active member within the Guelph community, Jenny aims to continuously develop strong leadership and mentorship skills by participating in several student organizations such as TEDxGuelphU, Habitat for Humanity, and the Biochemistry Student Association. As a fourth year student, Jenny has explored the possibilities of her undergraduate career through successful co-op work terms with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Environment Canada. She recently was chosen as the Canadian representative for the inaugural Building Bridges Commonwealth Young Women's Fellowship which enabled Jenny to travel to the United Kingdom, where she participated in learning about issues affecting young women globally and information exchange with young women from other countries. She hopes to steer her studies and research in a direction that will further her understanding of viral pathologies with respect to therapeutic strategies for human applications. A bright student and junior researcher, we look forward to Jenny’s continued success!
Degree: Bachelor of Science, Class of 2009
Major: Chemistry (Co-op)
Brian hit the ground running in his first co-op work term conducting innovative new research about pharmaceuticals that had never been done before. This discovered curiosity for finding solutions to real world problems certainly hasn’t slowed down yet – Brian (or should we say, Dr. Worfolk) went on to receive a Ph.D and now works as an Associate Scientist at Phillips 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Throughout his co-op work terms, Brian found himself working in government, industrial, and academic laboratories. Regarding his first work term, Brian recalls “My first co-op supervisor at Environment Canada was very inspirational and lit my passion for research. He got me excited about the problems we were trying to solve and presented very clear solutions. It allowed me to see how a career in chemistry can have a tangible role in solving big problems”. This love of research led to a co-op position with Professor Rowntree here at the University of Guelph. Brian’s work here regarding renewable energy by synthesizing nanoparticles actually ended up being the basis of a number of papers and his Ph.D. degree.
About his co-op experience, Brian says “The skills I learned while on co-op work terms better prepared me for the real world. While in class we learned chemical theory, but work terms allowed me to see how the theory could be applied to real world problems. It definitely made the classroom material more engaging. Co-op allowed me to discover my passion for research, which has defined my path through graduate school and to my career as an industrial R&D Scientist”.
His advice to first years? “Get out and actively explore all career options. There are many different possible career paths for every major and degree. Always focus on areas which excite you, where you will want to race to work every morning”. Even though this Gryphon is far from home, we wish him all the best and look forward to hearing about what he discovers next!