Student Transforms Co-op Experience into Full-time Position
When Northeastern University in Toronto student Negin Dehghanian started her co-op experience at software company Ceridian, she was excited but unsure what to expect. Eight short months later, Negin is a full-time Project Manager Associate. She credits her determination to take initiative — and Northeastern’s well-rounded approach to preparing students — for the successful transition from co-op student to employee.
The Benefits of Co-op
“I didn’t go into my co-op thinking, ‘This week, I am a new student, so I’ll just take it easy,’” says Negin. “I always tried to have follow-up questions, better understand the software, and meet people in different departments so that I could work in cross-functional teams effectively. I also consistently strived to incorporate the knowledge and skills acquired through my education into my everyday work.”
Negin, who graduated with a Master of Science in Project Management in June, saw several benefits to co-op. Firstly, as an international student with an electrical engineering background, it allowed her to navigate the Canadian job search process for the first time. Negin also knew that acquiring practical work experience during her studies would enhance her chances of securing a job after graduation. Finally, co-op presented a valuable opportunity for Negin to apply her theoretical knowledge in a real-world setting while she gained insight into local workplace culture.
“Since it was my first time applying for jobs in Canada, even finding a co-op enhanced my self-confidence. My co-op placement was an excellent opportunity to gain experience working at a professional level while receiving support and guidance from experts. It also helped me to get to know the work environment in Canada. Co-op is like working in a test environment that prepares you for real-world production.”
Preparing Students for Co-op
Anurag Dhawan is the Director of Career Development and Experiential Learning at the Toronto campus. He says co-op plays an important role in students’ careers.
To ensure that students are prepared for co-op, Northeastern takes a practical in-class learning approach and facilitates extracurricular opportunities. A signature offering from Anurag’s department is a series of career development workshops. Delivered over a six-month period, the workshops take students through the job search and preparation process. They culminate in mock interviews and a networking dinner with students who have successfully completed their co-op term.
“Co-op is a partnership between the employer, the student, and the school. Everyone is equally invested and wants good outcomes. So, when students go out on their co-op, we want to ensure they can confidently contribute ideas and make an impact.”
Negin took advantage of the university-led workshops. She says they provided her with a comprehensive understanding of the job-hunting process and helped her to effectively navigate it. Especially beneficial, she says, was a course focused on building interview communication skills.
“It greatly improved my confidence in presenting myself during interviews and helped me to identify where I needed to improve,” she says. “Overall, the workshops covered all the areas that we needed to feel ready for our interviews and placements.”
Northeastern also provides other work-integrated learning initiatives and services that assist students’ career preparation. Through the innovative XN learning platform, for example, students can work directly with an industry sponsor on a short-term business project. Program-specific co-op advisors, who understand the needs of each sector, also support students by reviewing resumes, directing students to resources, and creating personalized job-finding strategies. All of these discussions occur during curated one-on-one meetings.
“Co-op is integrated with the Northeastern experience,” says Anurag. “We’re excited to play our part in preparing students so they can enter the industry and build relationships that lead to jobs. Our students are landing co-op opportunities at top employers such as Ceridian, RBC, CIBC, and more.”
From Co-op to Full-Time Position
During Negin’s co-op at Ceridian, senior development manager Yuri Pshenychnyy was her supervisor. He says he immediately noticed Negin’s diligence and disciplined approach as well as her project management skills. He highlights one company-wide process during which Negin was able to successfully coordinate a number of moving pieces.
“During her co-op, Negin was proactive,” says Yuri. “She also had a great mix of professional and personal skills that went a long way, and you could tell she was ready to apply what she learned in school. Often, co-op students are a benefit to a company because they bring a fresh perspective. Negin was simply a great fit.”
As Ceridian increasingly turned to Negin to take on various tasks and offered constructive feedback to help her improve, she says she felt encouraged to share her ideas and motivated to contribute more to her team. Now, as a full-time employee, Negin continues to take on more responsibilities and apply the knowledge she is acquiring in her graduate studies in real-time.
“I would like to emphasize the importance of both education and experience in one’s professional life,” she says. “My co-op experience helped to boost my confidence and prepared me for my current, and potential future roles. While I am still at the early stages of this journey, I am optimistic about what the future holds.”