BA 2006: Major, Political Science and French

 

“I think I would have felt completely unprepared to look for a job if I hadn’t gone through the Co-op program. I feel a lot less anxiety about starting a new job knowing that I have at least the basic skills of how to succeed in a workplace and can therefore focus on learning what I need to know to do well in a specific position.”

For Laura Beckwith, her BA in International Relations and French was a great life experience but her BA did not prepare her for the workplace. According to Beckwith, “I think my studies let me explore my areas of interest and my co-op terms let me try out which kinds of work environments best suited me.  The two were very complimentary and I graduated with quite a clear direction of what career I wanted to pursue.”

Beckwith’s Co-op work terms were only a stepping stone in discovering her true passions in “the non-profit organizations and small offices in particular.” In her first work term Beckwith worked as a program assistant for Arts Umbrella. She gained valuable skills in event planning and preparation, desktop publishing, administration and communication with students and parents. This gave her a taste of what it was like working in a professional work environment and prepared her for her second work term with The Arts Co-op Office as a Career Initiative Research Assistant.

In this position, Beckwith realized how much she loved project work and the experience of starting something and seeing it reach a conclusion. “I learned so much that term about survey writing, design and analysis which I have used many times since,” says Beckwith.

During her last 8 month co-op work term, Beckwith worked with Western Economic Diversification where she researched grant applications, wrote and administered funding-agreements and represented the department at events. In this position, Beckwith enjoyed travelling around the interior of BC and visiting projects she had funded, as well as participating in a public consultation process. However for Beckwith, she realized that working in a government environment was not for her. “I now focus my efforts on non-profit organizations and small offices in particular.  I know that I much prefer to be part of a small team,” says Beckwith.

After graduating in May 2006, Beckwith, “traveled to Africa as part of a student group undertaking a sanitation project in a slum outside of Kampala, Uganda.” Beckwith was primarily responsible for the group’s fundraising and financial management. Upon returning to Canada she was hired at the United Way in Ottawa to join their fundraising team. After 8 months she took on a CIDA internship in Mexico where she was “working on youth engagement on behalf of the Municipal government of Matamoros and educated young people about sustainable urban planning.”

Beckwith once again returned to Canada and was hired by Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) as a fundraising assistant. This position allowed her to work with a diverse group of people from all over the world. She was responsible for “researching and writing grant proposals and reports, translation, designing and implementing a new monitoring and evaluation strategy and doing data collection and analysis.” She found this position posted on Charity Village but, for Beckwith, where her Co-op experience became really valuable was in the interview.

“I was told by my supervisor after I was hired that they were blown away by the way I fully answered questions; not just stating my experience but giving a full analysis of what I learned from my previous positions and how it related to their organization. They said they had never seen anyone give such thoughtful and thorough answers and I credit that completely to the training I received from the UBC Arts Co-op Program!” say Beckwith.

Currently Beckwith is working on her Masters and she hopes to continue working for international NGOs and after finishing her Master’s she hopes to find a job in environmental education. She encourages prospective, current and future students to join the program because for Beckwith, the Arts Co-op Program was “probably the most valuable part of my degree, even more than my year on exchange. Graduating and having to enter the workforce was really intimidating and I was so thankful that I had some great experience to put on my resume, confidence in an interview and references I could count on for a recommendation.”

Beckwith’s openness and flexibility allowed her to get the most out of her experiences and find her true passions in the non-profit sector.