Thompson Rivers University

Star co-op students discuss campus supports

March 9, 2022

Narshvin Doorganah and Katelyn Zubak share how Career & Experiential Learning helped them carve out their professional pathway

When there is so much talent to choose from, it’s not a surprise that there were two winners of the 2021 TRU Co-op Students of the Year award. Here, Narshvin Doorganah and Katelyn Zubak share their stories of how Career & Experiential Learning helped them carve out their professional pathway.

Originally from Mauritius, a tropical island in the Indian Ocean, Narshvin Doorganah began pursuing his studies in Computing Science in 2019. Active on campus, he honed his leadership skills in the Computer Science club, Open Source club, and Innovation Creativity and Entrepreneurship club. Passionate about technology, Doorganah represented his program in competitions like UBC’s Hackathon. While studying full-time, Doorganah worked to support himself financially; he started his first IT job at TRU. Narshvin worked as a co-op student at IX Solutions for eight months, where he worked with different clients in Kamloops and spent another co-op term with Alberta Health Services. He has recently joined Avanade’s Canada Headquarters as a Security Analyst in Cyber Defense.

Born and raised in Kamloops BC, Supply Chain Management student Katelyn Zubak followed her first co-op work term at CIBC with three terms as an Inventory Specialist Assistant at Hydro One. These experiences led her to a summer internship as an Area Manager for Amazon; she has since accepted a full-time position that she will start after graduation. Now a Career Ambassador, Zubak was also involved with Enactus as the E-Cycle Co-Director, the TRUSU Swing Dance Club, and after studying abroad at the University of Chichester in Chichester, UK, in Winter 2019, she became a Study Abroad Ambassador.

Practical supports from CEL

Career & Experiential Learning provides a wide variety of supports: “With the help of my Career Coordinator, we ripped apart my resume, destroyed it, and came up with an entirely new format.” Zubak laughed, “It was transformed to a real-world resume.”

Doorganah marvelled at all that CEL offered: “From resume reviews, interview skills, job search strategies for graduates, SERV 3000, to Experience More badges, there are so many cool ways to connect and explore Experiential Learning.”

Total growth; total change

“In terms of technical and social skills, there’s been different stages of growth,” Doorganah said. “I was an introvert before and didn’t talk a lot. I’ve gotten better at chatting with colleagues and connecting with other departments.”

Zubak added, “I’ve experienced total growth and total change. Adapting to remote work was an interesting challenge, especially as I started this position without any onsite experience, but it expanded my interpersonal communication skills”.

The power of curiosity

Both received advice about cultivating curiosity in the learning process. Doorganah said, “Never be afraid to ask questions. If I didn’t understand something, there was always someone ready to answer, and it usually led to interesting conversations.” Zubak added, “Show your work, and explain what you think you know before asking the question. Employers will appreciate hearing your thought process.”

Learn from good leadership

Doorganah said, “I’ve learned how important it is to listen and to get to know your team. As a leader, it’s important to believe in your goal. If you don’t, no one else will.”

Zubak commented, “My boss offered so much support. She took the time to show you how to do something, but she also pushed you to grow. She knew people’s strengths, weaknesses, and how to motivate or approach them.”

On climbing the ladder

Zubak is fascinated by professional pathway narratives. “It’s interesting to hear where people started. It gives more depth to people. Most people aren’t static; there’re a lot of steps and experiences in between.”

Doorganah added, “It’s a journey. Everyone starts somewhere. I see many students disregard their minimum wage jobs on their resume. I would say, don’t do that. Employers will see all those skills that you’ve learned.”

Your professional pathway is a winding road

Zubak said, “When I was younger, I wanted to be an artist, then I wanted to be a teacher, then a nurse. I wanted to go into sciences, but then I went into business. I thought it would be marketing, human resources and finance. I finally got to supply chain management. I didn’t even know what it was when I started my degree.”

Teamwork makes the dream work

Doorganah says of this distinction, “I feel proud. While I appreciate the recognition, I didn’t achieve this alone. It’s not just about me – my friends, family and CEL contributed to this success.” He credits Nancy Bepple, Leanne Mihalicz, Tara Bond and Sarah Gibson for lending support.

Zubak recognized that this award provided “a chance to reflect on the journey and look back at how far I’ve come. I had such a good support system in the CEL office; everyone was behind me. I’m so grateful to Jamie Noakes, Carly Royer, Tara Bond, Sarah Gibson, Leanne Mihalicz, Shawn Read, and Larry Iles. CEL is the best team; I love them so much.”

“Katelyn showed continual growth throughout her entire degree and has really raised the bar for our program,” said Business Co-op Coordinator Jamie Noakes. “She has consistently engaged in all forms of work-integrated learning both on and off campus, and never fails to impress.”

Doorganah’s co-nominators Co-op Coordinator Sarah Gibson and Co-operative Education Coordinator Leanne Mihalicz remarked on his transformation, “Co-op has elevated his confidence, expanded his network, and has influenced his career goals. He has been an inspiring ambassador by generously contributing his time, energy, and wisdom to support career and experiential learning initiatives at TRU. He is truly genuine, grateful, and an ideal role model for other TRU students.”

Check out the website to learn more about how Career & Experiential Learning can support your professional goals. Follow CEL and TRU Student Life on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn for more insights and information.

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