Student co-op experience making education work
April 05, 2013

Second-year student Sara Shafiyan had to learn a new language for her co-op placement this semester – a new web programming language, that is. The Web Animation and Design student is working at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, modernizing the web content management system for the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

Along with familiarizing herself with the new language, Sara has been tasked with improving the website’s accessibility and functionality. Part of that means designing templates for web pages, optimizing pages to make them search engine-friendly, and teaching the communications team how to write effectively for the web.

Sara has enjoyed participating in decision-making meetings, connecting with various professionals and vendors, and blending the technical skills she gained at Georgian with the skills she acquired while obtaining a bachelor’s degree in graphic design.

“I’ve always been fascinated with art and technology – this co-op is a mix of those two passions,” she says. “I enjoy every challenging aspect and I’ve learned to not be shy in front of people. The workload is huge but there is no pressure. ICES is a friendly and comfortable environment. My manager Craig Hurst is delightful to work with and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to be part of a large non-profit organization.”

ICES evaluates health care services and delivery to meet the changing needs of residents in Ontario. The institute recently offered Sara a one-year contract to help finish the project, which she is considering.

“I never would have had this opportunity if it wasn’t for the support of Scott McCrindle, my faculty advisor,” notes Sara. “He provided me with invaluable guidance – everything from choosing co-op positions to apply for to increasing my confidence.”

Sara says her dream job would be to work for an advertising company where she can use her skills as a developer and provide input on the design aspect of projects. In the future, that might mean starting a business. For now, she’s looking forward to graduation and acquiring more professional experience.

For more information about co-op at Georgian, contact coopsupport@georgiancollege.ca or visit Georgian’s Centre for Co-operative Education/Internship and Career Services.