Thompson Rivers University

Pinpointing your professional pathway

September 22, 2023

Student storyteller Taryn Walter is in her fourth year of the Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in marketing. She has completed two marketing co-ops, one with Cutting Edge Consulting and one with Castanet Kamloops. In this blog, Taryn describes her thoughts before, during and after completing her work term with Castanet Kamloops.

To diversify my degree and gain pre-graduation experience, I enrolled in the Co-operative Education Program (co-op). Co-op is a great way to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to the workplace. In this most recent eight-month term as a digital account manager at Castanet Kamloops, I’ve assisted local businesses in meeting their specific marketing needs to help grow their audience.

Pre-work term

Before co-op, I really couldn’t pinpoint my professional pathway. Around the midway point of my degree, I felt that co-op gave me the direction I needed to make some decisions about my future career prospects. For this particular role, I wanted to increase my knowledge about the sales process, digital marketing services, networking, building a client base and navigating various systems and platforms.

Although this was a high-pressure position, there was a lot of support and encouragement before the work term even began. Despite the reassurances and one-on-one’s with my manager, Shannon, I still struggled with imposter syndrome; I felt like I was pretending to be an adult. I worried I wasn’t capable of being trusted with so much responsibility.

Bachelor of Business Administration student Taryn Walter

As I’m still completing my degree, I don’t have all the skills and experience needed for this job. In moments of self-doubt, I remind myself that this is literally the point of co-op. It’s learning what interests you, discovering your strengths and developing your skills.

During my work term

After the first two months as a digital account manager, I felt like I couldn’t get the hang of it. I struggled to make my first sale. While I was eager and excited to learn, I felt anxious and a little bit scared.  Talk about a roller-coaster ride. When it comes to sales, results are based on pounding the pavement, getting told “no” ten times before you hear the one “yes,” and following up with clients regularly. This was the first job I lacked confidence in — and I’ve been working since I was 14.

Previously, my work experience was mainly in food services and the restaurant industry. The stakes are different, as upselling appetizers and selling advertisements are significantly different ventures. No matter who I confided in about my struggles, I was told the same thing: “It will come.” I needed the ‘sales rush’ that everyone was talking about. Day in and day out, I put my best foot forward, but I felt discouraged and defeated.

Finally, that glorious day came; I closed my first deal, and let me tell you, the sales rush is real! Now that I am better equipped to assess and assist with diverse business needs, I know that sales is the field I want to be in. 

Shannon Mitchell, general manager at Castanet Kamloops, has supported me from the moment I walked into my interview. When I asked what motivated her to hire a co-op student, she said: “I decided to hire a co-op student after hiring a TRU alum, which made my willingness to hire a student much more open. The value of investing in a co-op student is HUGE — we now have a trained, smart and successful person who is joining us full-time once she graduates. Ensure that the student has the drive to be successful in whatever role they take, and you will see the huge value of mentorship and the co-op program.”

After the first work term

Now, I’m constantly talking about how much I love my job — seriously, I won’t shut up about it. I’ve agreed to continue with Castanet Kamloops after my work term wraps up so I can continue to grow in this position. Thanks to the co-op program, I am content and fulfilled knowing how I’d like to make a living. While there is still so much to learn, I’m now able to tackle challenges and ready to cross the convocation stage with confidence.

Harshita Dhiman, co-op co-ordinator, has been someone I’ve relied on since the day I applied for co-op. She offers this advice:  “I encourage students to reflect on their co-op experience, which helps them identify areas of improvement and enhance their strengths. Each work term, whether good or bad, provides lifelong learning, so make the most out of your experience.” 

Dhiman also shared these tips on how to ensure you learn, grow and make a good impression during your work term:

  • Take initiative in your work and show enthusiasm for the tasks assigned to you.
  • Seek out new projects and ask for additional responsibilities.
  • Be intentional when networking and building professional relationships. 
  • Be friendly and approachable, offer to help, and show genuine interest in your colleagues.
  • Ask for feedback and seek mentorship from your supervisor and colleagues.
  • Be receptive to constructive criticism and use it to improve your performance.
  • The work environment can be dynamic and ever-changing; be adaptable and open to new challenges and tasks that may arise during your work term. 
  • Remember that every co-op experience is a valuable learning opportunity, so make the most of it, stay positive and remember that you always have your co-op coordinators to support you throughout your journey.

Co-operative education provides students with a great way to learn valuable career skills and an opportunity to test drive the wide variety of career options.  To enhance your education with career-related work experience before graduation, learn more at

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