As Samantha Michaud approached the end of her academic studies at the University of New Brunswick, she didn’t feel she was ready to graduate. Samantha had annual check-ins with Val Whyte, and Val was aware of an organization that was looking for a bilingual co-op student. She encouraged Samantha to apply even if she wouldn’t receive credit for the work term since she was so close to graduating.
Samantha was not successful in getting the position, but one of the interviewers recommended her to the Communications team, and this is where Samantha ended up working for the next 12 months. Samantha was hired as a Junior Communications Officer for Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). She worked on internal communications, administrative tasks, and helped with announcements for the organization.
If it seems that all of this was easy, it belies the fact that before this time, Samantha had put in hundreds of hours volunteering with the Business Administration Undergraduates Society and JDCC. She started on the Social Team with JDCC and moved into a leadership position as Captain for two years. Her efforts were rewarded by being named Captain of the Year for central and eastern Canada. During her 4th and 5th years, she was the Student Union representative to the Business faculty. All of her hard work gave her the courage to reach for something that appeared out of her reach.
During her work term, Samantha discovered that she had skills for internal communications and that she had great interpersonal skills that enabled her to network and communicate effectively with her colleagues. “I got to network a lot with my colleagues, and they taught me the ropes of almost every section at ACOA NB. Had I not worked at ACOA as a student, I wouldn’t have gotten half of the knowledge transfer I have now.”
ACOA didn’t want to lose Samantha, so they created a part-time Administrative Assistant position using FSWEP funding. She still had three seminars and a regular class to complete to graduate, so she juggled part-time work with a heavy academic load. When she graduated in May of 2016, Samantha knew that she wanted to work full-time at ACOA. “I observed a very positive work environment and wanted to contribute to that. I saw a workplace that valued a lot of what I valued, it was important for me to work hard and make them proud.”
Three weeks after graduating, Samantha worked in a temporary position as an Executive Assistant for ACOA. The position provided her with the opportunity to further develop her skills. She was willing to work towards her dream of working at ACOA.
It took another three months, before all of Samantha’s hard work was rewarded with a full-time offer as a Programs Assistant. Samantha worked in two other positions before being promoted to her current position as Junior Programs Officer in the GC Unit. Through determination and hard work, in seven years, she went from being a co-op student to her current position of supervisor.
Reflecting on her time at the University of New Brunswick, Samantha said that her co-op experience was the most rewarding year of her university degree. “I had no idea where I wanted to work after graduation until I started to work for ACOA. Students can accomplish so much in so little time, so it’s important to give it your all and impress potential future employers.”
Samantha is also co-chair of the New Brunswick Federal Youth Network. She sees tremendous value in mentoring and networking. She received this mentorship at ACOA when she was a student and wants to pass this on to other students. “A lot of students don’t always ask for help, but accepting help was a big win for me. You should ask your manager/supervisor to introduce you to your new colleagues and spend your free time getting to know them, you have no idea what relationship could build into a network of references.”