This year, Dr. Jon Newell became the first PhD student to graduate with a co-op designation at UBC, blazing a trail for future students looking to explore their professional potential during a PhD. Having now completed three co-op terms, Jon considers co-op a critical and invaluable component of his program. Through co-op, Jon diversified his experiences, financed his studies, and discovered true value and affirmation in his degree.

An English PhD student, Jon began his postgraduate co-op journey as Special Projects Officer at the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, where his most memorable accomplishment was organizing the 2014 “Reimagining the PhD” Symposium. Over the course of his work, Jon developed administrative skills and gained a background insight into higher education, an experience relevant to both his degree and career goals in academia. For his next two terms, Jon transitioned to working as Communications Officer at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute (formerly Child and Family Research Institute). He was primarily responsible for managing internal communications and drafting a bi-weekly newsletter, but he also completed an intranet redesign and improvement project. Jon is currently teaching at UBC, and he feels this experience provided him with the writing and technical skills necessary to develop exceptional online learning content.

Through his co-op experiences, Jon has learned that his academic skillset is “enormously marketable and genuinely useful in a wide variety of professional contexts” – including but not limited to academia. As the first PhD student to receive a co-op designation in UBC history, Jon graduated with professional experience, confidence in his career, and affirmation in his degree. Jon recommends co-op as a valuable part of any PhD program for students who want to discover their full potential in both academia and the world beyond.