Sarah MacFarlane and Brigitte Manderville

Meet Sarah MacFarlane and Brigitte Manderville

About Sarah and Brigitte

Sarah MacFarlane and Brigitte Manderville are both third year Bachelor of Commerce students; Sarah majors in Marketing Management and Brigette majors in Public Management. The two spent their co-op work term this semester working as Digital Events Support Students with CCS, where they have helped groups across campus transition to online learning during the pandemic. As part of their role at CCS, they decided to organize an event to help boost morale and encourage peer connection of co-op students who were working remotely and feeling isolated. They created The Co-op Lunch Special, an opportunity for students on a co-op work term to come together online, chat, meet each other, and play games. Keep reading for more information about this successful event; the first of its kind within CCS and the Experiential Learning Hub!


Can you tell us about the event you organized for co-op students?

“Due to the pandemic, the work environments we are accustomed to had drastically changed and we had heard from so many students that working remotely was very lonely, isolating, and left them feeling disconnected. The Co-op Lunch Special event was an opportunity to bring students that were on a co-op work term for F20 together to connect in a series of open group discussions and games, like Kahoot and Pictionary.”


What was involved in the coordination of this event?

“To begin the coordination of this event, we reached out to the Experiential Learning Hub to pitch the event and to get their support and opinion on our idea. After a couple of virtual meetings, we developed a clear plan and decided to reach out to their marketing team to begin advertising the event. Throughout this process, we were in close contact with the Hopin team to set-up the virtual space and to ensure everyone involved had training on the platform. We also recruited other co-op students to moderate each group discussion and reached out to Student Wellness to run an information booth for drop in-questions.”


How many people did you have come out to the event? Did you get feedback from anyone who attended?

“In total, we had 67 people come out to this event. For our first online event, we were very happy with the turnout and hope it continues to grow in the future.”

“We did get some feedback from some of our attendees from the post-event survey we sent out. Attendees liked how they had the opportunity to take a break from their regular workday to connect with other students, that they had the option to come and go, and that there was a mix of fun games and informational booth options. Most attendees mentioned that they think the event should continue to take place each semester even if things go back to normal next year. This event being the first of its kind for the Experiential Learning Hub and CCS, there were some minor things that people would have liked to see included as well, but overall, it was great to hear such positive feedback!”


Do you think this will run in the future? If so, is there anything you would continue, change or add from this year's event?

“Yes! We have had a ton of meetings about the future of this event, and it seems as if it will continue to run, either just moving forward with the goal of the event itself or in a very similar format to the inaugural. We would like to see the games portion continue, as they seemed to go over very well with the attendees. In terms of changes, we would love to simplify the event a little more. We did have a lot of activities going on at once, which caused attendees to be very spread out throughout the Hopin platform, so there was not as much opportunity to interact with others as we had wished.”


What did you learn throughout the event coordination? Did you enjoy the process?

“Besides the goal of bringing co-op students together, one of our learning goals for the semester was to plan all aspects of an event from start to finish. Mainly, we learned a lot about communicating effectively with the people involved in the planning of the event, creating cohesive marketing materials, and running effective meetings.”

“At the beginning of this co-op term, we talked about wanting to get involved in the event planning process as it was a huge area of interest for us. So, getting to plan an event from start to finish was a great experience! We enjoyed getting to meet and collaborate with other departments across campus, as well as getting to work together more closely throughout the couple of weeks of planning.”


How do you think events like this can help co-op students?

“Events like this are great ways to show co-op students that the University of Guelph is thinking of them and reaching out during these difficult times. This event brought many students together to form some great connections. These types of events are also great ways to let co-op students have a break from their busy work term, which is very important for mental health and wellbeing."