Relocating For Work

Wow, it’s been a while since I last posted and so much has happened since February, most notably I’ve moved to Calgary to work for my last co-op term! It’s been a whirl-wind since final exams and a trip to New York took place immediately before moving down here). I’ve been here since May 1st and I feel like I’m just finally settling in. I took a position at a large Oil and Gas company for the summer, and while I was apprehensive at first I have to say I’m glad I decided to come down here, for a couple reasons:

Limited jobs in Edmonton

When I was looking back at the co-op job board in September – November there didn’t seem to be many any jobs in Edmonton. My choices seemed to be limited to Fort Mac, Calgary, or Toronto. Calgary has always seemed appealing so I went ahead and applied for a couple jobs. I didn’t hear back for a while but eventually I had an interview. Actually it was my first phone/Skype interview – you can read about it HERE. My offer showed up shortly after and while it was tough at the time to accept a job in a city I’ve never stayed in for more than a couple nights, it was the best decision I could make in the long run.

Wanted to try something new

Many of you know that I worked for a large accounting firm in Edmonton last year for eight months and while it was an amazing opportunity it’s fairly common for accounting firms to not have a lot of work in the summer months. Deciding to try something new is both exhilarating and nerve-racking at the same time. So far Calgary is wonderful, I’ve been blessed with two fantastic roommates who actually make some days amazing! I’m learning to do EVERYTHING by myself, seriously, there is no one to rely on here.. I’m adjusting, but not having any family and very few friends here makes things interesting.

More opportunity

As far as career advancement goes I think for me personally Calgary has a lot more to offer and assuming all goes well this summer I may very well move down here after I graduate. Taking the leap to try out this fantastic new city for a few months will definitely give me the in-site I need to figure out if Calgary is right for me.

So that’s a little update from me, I promise I’ll write more… like I said before it’s been a whirl-wind and I’m still just catching up on things from April!

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Crossing Roads: Experiences from a Former Co-op Student to a Current Co-op Student

A co-authored blog by Giselle General and Tosin Babatunde

Hey there,

If you have clicked on this blog post you are probably a prospective co-op student or a current co-op wanting to know the gritty details of what it really is like to be on a placement. Well look no further. We, Giselle General, a former co-op student at the UofA, now working at GEF Seniors Housing and Tosin Babatunde a current co-op student, doing her placement there, have decided to share with you, our experiences. Ranging from what to expect while applying for placements and how to handle the outcomes, to what to expect during a placement and the lessons we have learned along the way. Here’s to hoping this helps you on your journey to becoming professionally savvy in your field of study.

To begin, we have Giselle interviewing Tosin, who is now on her second placement. Here we discuss the differences moving from a first placement to a second one and the growth she has encountered, and also a fun fact about GEF Seniors Housing and many more topics. Enjoy!

Next, the tables turn and we have Tosin interviewing Giselle, who has completed all three co-op terms. Here we discuss Giselle’s experiences in all three placements and the lessons she learned along the way. Also, they discuss how the co-op program changed her and many more topics. Enjoy!

We sincerely hope that by sharing our experiences and perspectives to you we have been able to inspire you to make the right decision towards a co-op education. To current co-op students seeking a placement, remember to relax and be yourself, this goes a long way. Breathe, you can do this!


Giselle and Tosin

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On Managing Your Managers


My time in the work force started when I was 16, a total of 6 years. During this time I have been privileged to work for many great organizations. I have learned invaluable skills and met many amazing people on my journey. Occasionally, however in your journey you will be faced with managers that are for lack of a better term: less than desirable to work for.

There have been two instances I can think of where my manager and I have clashed, our personalities were very different. I’m type-a and like everything to be organized and planned ahead and in both cases these managers were type-b’s getting things done off schedule and rolling with the punches. I do not mean to say that being a type-b is a bad trait to have, in fact in many circumstances it can prove to be incredibly useful. But, in my case it was the mere fact that we had different working styles that would create tension. I’m sure this would be the case if the tables were turned.

Dealing with managers that you don’t see eye to eye with can be tricky. Clearly you don’t want to offend their management style but at the same time not dealing with a situation like this can lead to a lot of frustration.

When situations like this arise I believe that dealing with the problem is the way to handle the situation. My tactics are as follows;:

Communicate. This is a key in any organization, if you explain where you are coming from perhaps your manager will be more likely to respond in a positive way. Never criticize, this only leads to bad things. Let your manager know what you need, and why you need it.

Discuss. Ask them what they need and talk to them about what you can do to improve. Hopefully this turns into a discussion what is working well for you and what you need to succeed. If this happens you could simply say it would be great if you could tell me about upcoming projects and what role I will be playing in them. Indirectly you are asking what work you can expect in the next little while.

Manage them. If all else fails you may need to resort to “managing them”. I do not mean to say that you should perceive yourself as their boss, because you aren’t. By this I mean stay on top of your work load and reconcile with your manager daily or weekly. Be pro-active and get things done that you know they will need in a few days time. By doing this you are ensuring you will be stress-free. Even if your manager asks for something to be completed with only a couple days notice you will have worked ahead. This system however isn’t perfect as there may be things you cannot predict. But hopefully by communicating with your manager about upcoming projects and deadlines you will be able to eliminate stress from your work life.

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6 Tips for a Phone/Skype Interview


This past fall I had my first Skype interview. It was very different from anything I’ve ever experienced before. In fact I found it more challenging than most interviews I’ve had. Skype and phone interviews are becoming more and more popular. Companies hiring students from different cities are more likely to lean towards Skype because they can talk and see you without flying you to the city they are located in.

Use an appropriate user name

If you are using a Skype for an interview ensure your username is appropriate. Roxygurl85 probably isn’t the best way to come across as professional. Using your first and last name allows your interviewer to easily locate you on Skype.

Check your connection before hand

Making sure your phone line or Skype connection is strong and working before your interview is imperative. The last thing you want is to be late to your interview because you can’t get your connection to work.

Dress the part

Even though the interviewer won’t be able to see you or will only see the top half of you dressing the part is still important. Dressing professionally puts you into the mindset of being interviewed. Whether you are sitting in front of your computer answering questions or are brought to corporate headquarters your attire shouldn’t change.

Clear the space around you

Before your interview clean the space around you. Not only will your interviewers be able to see your desktop in a Skype interview things around you can become very distracting in phone interviews as well. Don’t get caught not paying attention or zoning out because you glanced at something that triggered another thought.

Slow down

Remember you aren’t speaking face to face so there is potential that there may be a lag time, especially if your connection isn’t as strong as it could be. People generally talk faster when they are nervous so reminding yourself to slow down during your interview is something that you should definitely be doing.

Have a Back Up

What happens if Skype doesn’t work? Set up a back up plan if the call doesn’t go through or if your connection fails. Make sure you as the interviewee and the interviewer know the back up plan and have the information needed to get ahold of the other party.

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How To: Make Your Own Opportunity


As a co-op student I realize that it’s not always easy to find a job. It’s a competitive world out there, and sometimes there are more candidates than positions posted on the job board. It can be over-whelming to hear that friends got dozens of interviews when you only received one.

This fall I was looking for part-time work that fit my busy schedule and while this isn’t necessarily a co-op tale I believe that the same principles apply.

I was able to basically create my own position at a company I strongly believe in. With the job market sometimes unpredictable I think it’s valuable to know that yo can create your own positions.

Take a Chance

Back in July I found a company that I waned to work for. SInce I wouldn’t be working full-time until summer of 2013 I clearly wouldn’t qualify for any of the full-time positions they had available. However, I found the question/comment form on their website ad wrote the following:

 To whom it may Concern,

I am a full-time student at the University of Alberta with an Accounting Minor and Finance Minor. I am extremely interested in the work your company does and I was wondering if you hire co-op students or students for part-time work.

Short, simple and to the point. 

If you don’t ask the answer is always no

If you don’t ask if a company is hiring you won’t get a job there. Always check their job board first, but don’t hesitate to email or contact HR about future opportunities. Another great resource to utilize is students that have worked at the company previously They may have inside connections and may be able to pass your resume along to someone who just might be able to hire you.

Don’t feel defeated 

Sometimes this isn’t going to work. You won’t hear back from anyone and you won’t get a job at that company, but that’s okay. Don’t give up, keep reaching out to people and perhaps one of them will be able to get you connected. Or at the least the company will keep your information on file and contact you if they have an opening.

All you can do is try

My opportunity ended up working out, I received a call mid-September for a casual position that fit perfectly in my schedule. If you want to read more of my story you can check it out on my blog. I urge you to seek out companies that you are passionate about and get into contact with HR about potential employment opportunities.

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The Hidden Cost of Buying Your Lunch At Work

As an avid personal finance blogger, and someone who meticulously tracks where every penny goes, I can’t help but wonder why people chose to throw away hundreds of dollars per month on lunch. As someone who was in the working-field for 8-months I saw first hand people who bought their lunch everyday and how much it cost them. Leslie Scorgie, a graduate from the University of Alberta Business School writes a great article on how brown bagging your lunch can save you $120,000 over the corse of your working life.

Many people don’t see the cost at first, and sure it takes effort to bring your lunch everyday. Heck, my peanut butter and jam sandwich or left-over pasta may not be as tasty as your $8 subway sandwich, but my choice is based off of the back that I do not see value in spending my money on cafeteria food.

When working eight hours a day it is definitely tempting to just buy your lunch on your break, I know I was tempted and sometimes I did end up buying my lunch, but I did try to keep it to a minimum. It’s easier, because you don’t have to think about it and you don’t have to plan ahead. Working all the time is tiring, sometimes packing your lunch just seems like a hassle.

Buying your lunch while at work can cost you hundreds of dollars a month and it is easily justified as you are no longer living off of a student budget. By bringing your lunch each day not only you will you save hundreds, you can use that money towards something else. Perhaps, you really do value food; instead of buying lunch you can treat yourself to a nice dinner out, which will likely be cheaper than the cost of lunch everyday.

Below is an info-graphic for that outlines just how much you can save by bringing your lunch. It’s hard to make sacrifices once you are no longer a student (or are on a work term), but these small sacrifices can definitely make a difference over the long run. Not to mention packing your lunch is the more health conscious option!

Brown Bagging Infographic

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Introduction to Josh Le’s Management Internship at Walmart Canada

This is the photo Narissa, the other intern, and I took as a gift to our store, the management team, and the associates. As assistant managers-in-training, we didn’t wear the vest but we wore the vest just for the photo in solidarity with all the other associates.

Hello CESA blog world!

I’m Josh Le, a 3rd year BCom student majoring in Marketing, Cooperative Education.  I worked with Walmart Canada as a Management Intern over the Spring/Summer (May-August) 2012 term. The internship is open to the Marketing 465, School of Retailing Internship Program, and Coop students, but Walmart is looking to open up the internship to all Business students sometime in the future.

Josh Le’s Managament Internship at Walmart Canada

This first post is meant to give a preview of the 10-part blogging series that I’m calling  Josh Le’s Management Internship at Walmart Canada (JLMIWC – Walmart loves acronyms). To contextualize this blog series: I completed my 4 month coop term with Walmart at the end of August and I’m back in school for the Fall/Winter 2012-2013 school year. I want to share my experiences with fellow BCom and coop students about Walmart and the retail sector. Each post will be written based on my coop journal, personal reflections, and big learning points along the way. This is approximately 7 weeks after my last shift at Walmart Canada, but I’ve gained some valuable skills that I still use in the school setting. I may add or subtract an article or two depending on my course-load at school, but this is my public commitment to completing this blog series!

1)      You Work At Walmart?!

2)      The Importance of Setting Goals

3)      Learning and Development Wednesdays

4)      Seeing the Bigger Picture

5)      The Value of a Mentor

6)      People Make Your World Go Around

7)      Know Your Strengths, Defeat Your Weaknesses

8)      Research Paper: Engaging Associates

9)      Will Said Skills Pay the Bills?

10)   Conclusion

New posts will appear on Thursday or Friday every second Friday until the series is complete. I look forward to sharing my summer at Walmart with you!



Twitter: @joshyle | LinkedIn: Joshua Le

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