What’s being on co-op like? Madeline’s story

NAME: Madeline Sheridan
PROGRAM: Business – Accounting (co-op) (second year)
MOST RECENT CO-OP: Transit Assistant, County of Simcoe, January to April, 2019

Why Georgian?

I’m from Angus, Ontario, but was going to university in Toronto when I decided to come to Georgian College in Barrie. Georgian gained my interest when I realized I could pay a fraction of my university tuition and be able to live at home, all while gaining valuable market experience and education through co-op programs.

Why this program?

I’m a career-driven individual, with a lot of goals for the future. After I obtain my diploma in accounting, I would like to get my real estate licence. My 10-year goal is to be a social entrepreneur and open a private business with my father.

Blonde female Georgian College co-op student smiling with an umbrella in the rain.

How was transferring from university to college?

Making the decision to switch from university to college was easy because of Georgian’s articulation programs. It gave me peace of mind knowing that if I decided to go back to university after college, my college education credits would then be applied to first- and second-year bachelor programs. In the end, I’ve saved thousands of dollars in tuition and gained valuable co-op experience that I wouldn’t have gained through university.

Describe your co-op experience.

My first co-op term was at Prodomax Automation in Barrie. I was lucky enough to be at Prodomax for a one-year internship, where I had multiple titles as the company transitioned from the private sector to a publicly owned enterprise. I worked in accounts payable, accounts receivable and customs and brokerage, dealing with NAFTA and updates to trade tariffs introduced by U.S. President Donald Trump.

My second co-op term was at The County of Simcoe as the transit assistant. I worked closely with preparing operating budgets, 10-year forecasts and the planning and development of new public transportation routes within Simcoe County.

Female Ontario College co-op student in a computer lab with an orange background.

What did you love most about your latest co-op?

My experience working for the County of Simcoe under Dennis Childs was incredible. I couldn’t have picked a better mentor. He taught me the importance of good management and leadership within project management, and life in general. I learned more about managerial accounting than I expected, for which I am forever grateful. My favourite part of the job was the fact that no two days were the same.

What was most challenging about your latest co-op?

The world of transit is different than most and is growing faster than ever with government infrastructure support efforts. The most challenging part of being the transit assistant was learning the government structure of the county and the politics between different municipalities.

How do you think co-op will help you in your career?

Co-op has helped in more ways than I ever expected. Co-op gave me the ability to get my foot in the door to professional businesses, which assisted in building my resumé. As accounting is a very technical profession, it is hard to get a job without practical experience. My co-op placements have also led to other job opportunities after graduation. My placements created networking opportunities, essential for any successful individual.

What advice do you have for students entering their first co-op program?

My advice to any students going into co-op programs is to apply to every job possible and go to every interview because every interview is good practice. And keep an open mind!

What would you tell a prospective student, contemplating a co-op program?

If someone is contemplating a co-op program, I would say jump on in! The experience and field training you receive will help shape your career; the networking opportunities will help build professionalism; and having a variety of co-op placements will help show you what you like and dislike as future careers.

Want to learn more about work-integrated learning?

Work-integrated learning, like co-op, is at the heart of almost every program at Georgian College.

Want to learn more? Check out the work-integrated learning 101 infographic and see if any of the eight types of on-the-job experience offered through Georgian catch your eye.

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