BA 2005: Major International Relations, Minor History

Currently: Fundraising Board Secretary, Victory Services Club


Were you one of the proud Vancouverites who rose to their feet at GM place waving your Vancouver 2010 towels with joy when you found out our city won the Olympic bid?  That victory was not only exciting for the whole country but it was also a huge moment for one of our own UBC Arts Co-op graduates, Julia Harrison, who designed that very towel.

Julia’s Co-op experience has been very rewarding as she has had the opportunity to explore many industries on a local, national and international scale, from non-profit to government . Julia’s most recent career change is her acceptance of an offer to work for NATO in Brussels where she will be helping to coordinate countries’ responses to natural disasters and chemical, biological, and nuclear disasters.

Julia’s first co-op job with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation helped her gain time management, multi-tasking and people skills. As Run Assistant, she was able to work with volunteers, donors, media, and sponsors to organize the 2002 Run for Cure. This helped her gain the skills she needed to be Junior Communications Officer for Communication Canada, where she designed the Vancouver 2010 Olympic towel.

Julia pushed herself and eventually landed a position with Foreign Affairs Canada as an intern. In this position she took part in researching and writing briefing documents, drafting speaking notes for the Prime Minister, and preparing the new Ambassador to Denmark for her departure, which allowed her to gain valuable networking skills.

After Julia  finished her one-year Masters Degree in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science she took advantage of the new graduate visa scheme in the UK whereby you can stay and work for a year after finishing a Masters Degree and accepted a job as Community Fundraising Coordinator at Amnesty International.

Now she doesn’t get nervous at all. In fact the invaluable job application skills she gained from the Arts Co-op Program give her an edge over many other students. Many of Julia’s peers from the London School of Economics even gave up and went home after graduation because they “had very little work experience and the job application process was too overwhelming.”

“You will receive a lot of rejections before you even get an interview, but you learn to take the feedback provided and strengthen your applications,” says Julia. For Julia, a university degree helped but what really stood out was her employment history.

Julia has definitely learned how to make the best of every opportunity. When asked, “What advice do you have for future co-op students?” Julia responded by saying, “Try it all! I used to be scared by the prospect of not knowing what was coming next or exactly what path I was on. Now I realize that your 20s are the time to try anything and everything. The only way you’ll know if you like a job is if you give it a shot.”

“In every new job you learn how to interact with different people, how to perform a variety of tasks, and what your strengths and weaknesses are. That isn’t even mentioning the practice you get with job applications and interviews through Co-op,” says Julia. From seeing her towel being raised in the air to standing in BC Place stadium as the 10,000 participants in the 2002 Run for the Cure were arriving at the end of the run, Julia has had some unforgettable experiences.

In her final words Julia said, “If I could do it all over again I might change some things, but I definitely would do Co-op again!”