Thompson Rivers University

Award-winner shares the key to success

  Posted on: November 28, 2016

There’s nothing quite as daunting as the first day on the job. The days and weeks to follow can have endless twists and turns, curveballs and loopholes. Between office politics, professional protocol, navigating through the corporate culture—there are a million different intricacies to know beyond the job responsibilities.

How can your university education prepare you for that post-graduation?

Marion Oke, Co-op Coordinator, describes Co-op programming as “the perfect way to get professional, career-related experience in a supportive learning environment. Both the Coordinator and the employer want to see the student maximize the learning opportunities and become a valuable and contributing team member.”

Nic Zdunich, recipient of the 2016 TRU Co-op Student of the Year Award, has proven his expertise time and time again regarding successful work-force skills.

The communications and public relations major completed his last two work terms as a Communications Assistant at TRIUMF. Nic made such a remarkable impression at TRIUMF, that he was offered a full-time position as Strategic Communications Associate.

This exciting development was hardly a surprise to anyone that worked alongside him.

“Nic approached every work term with energy, enthusiasm and confidence, demonstrating his initiative, sharing his ideas and bringing a can-do attitude to any project or task” Marion says.

Nic’s philosophy was partially shaped by his upbringing in small-town Saskatchewan. That rural lifestyle meant that “there was always a chore to do, or always a need to pitch in—it’s just something you do.”

That authentic work ethic flourished during Nic’s many work terms. Each opportunity offered an invaluable learning outcome, which led to other jobs, promotions and accolades.

Nic’s long term-goal (one of many) is to hire and mentor a new generation of co-op students. Nic welcomes the opportunity to share the guidance and support that he received in his Co-op days. With a great fondness for the mentors who offered valuable information and resources—Nic hopes to “provide stepping stones for students –who would have ownership and responsibility over their own projects.”

In the meantime, Nic is keen to share insights and advice regarding his professional success.

Attitude is everything.

“Above all, you have to have a great attitude.” Be a go-getter, and a team-player. Prove yourself; promote yourself.

Ask questions.

Talk to co-workers and employers about their own professional journey.

“People love to share their work stories; you’d be amazed to find out that so many others had non-linear career paths.”

Listen up.

Active listening makes for empathetic, efficient and engaged employees. When navigating the new world of employment, understanding the corporate culture is essential for fitting in, developing your skill set, and to also provide constructive challenges and improvements to the system.

It’s also exceptional for picking up on other opportunities. “Keep your ear to the ground, as so much is by word of mouth”

Don’t disregard past experiences.

Employers are seeking employees with a wide variety of skills: “all work experiences account for something”, even flipping burgers, folding laundry, walking dogs—again it’s about the attitude in the way we approach the work.

“Every job is important, whether it’s organizing a work space, or writing a proposal…no job is too small.”

Be the employable equivalent of a rubber band.

Adaptability is a necessity in the modern-day workforce. The ideal employee is open-minded and flexible when faced with change, interruptions or complications.

Take initiative.

“Shake things up with strategic, educated solutions. Pitch an idea, deliver and own it.”

Marion continues, “Employers want self-motivated, flexible and eager. Moreover, they want someone willing take on new tasks of all sizes, and engage in the work term by asking questions and contributing ideas.”

Make it happen.

While studying in Italy, a sidewalk café sign caught Nic’s eye: “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” That quote stuck with him—personal responsibility is the key for making our personal successes a reality.

All in all, Nic’s upbeat approach is simple and attainable: “Show up, be present and good things will happen.”

Now “perfectly settled” in downtown Vancouver, Nic’s loving his work, and he’s happy to just take a breath and relax. “I’m seeing where the road takes me, but for now I’m paying attention to the world around me and taking it all in stride.”

For more information about the TRU Co-op program visit the website or call 250-371-5627.