Your Career Might Surprise You!
How students become brewmasters, tech leaders, and champions against human trafficking.
If you aren't sure what kind of career you want, don't worry. At university, you can explore possible careers through classes, co-op, exchange programs, or even business incubators.
You never know where your skills will lead
Jonathan Laurencic credits his success as co-founder of the Elora Brewing Company to skills he developed in his university classes. His degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies had little to do with craft beer, but it did help bring his idea to life. "The Recreation program gave me the skills to think critically, solve problems creatively, and make sure the departments and people in our business are communicating and working properly. But the thing that was ingrained — and that I use all the time in our business — is focusing on customer needs."
Building connections through co-op
Co-op programs and internships let you try on different roles until you find the right fit.
When Honours Arts and Business student Nicole applied for a co-op term at Microsoft, she assumed they wouldn't typically hire Arts students. To her surprise, she was hired into a project management role where she'd have calls with Microsoft's head office in Redmond and then execute the program with retail stores across Canada.
"Co-op exposes you to a wide range of skills and sectors... something that I could never understand without getting out there and trying it." – Nicole, co-op student
Although it can seem like there's more wealth in the world than ever before, homelessness remains a challenge around the world. Jacklyn, a Planning student at Waterloo, spent a co-op term as an assistant planner for Habitat for Humanity where she was involved with everything from site plan clearances to consulting with future residents.
Through her work term, she was able to get hands-on experience, help Habitat build housing, and support the local community.
"Build more affordable housing and you create a sustainable community built on diversity and inclusion," says Jacklyn.
You never know where great ideas will come from
Student organizations, volunteering opportunities, and resources make it easier to create change at university than anywhere else!
As a Health Studies student, Rachel Thompson planned to pursue a career in public health. Looking back now, Rachel says she didn't think she'd end up as an entrepreneur!
While spending time with her grandmother, she saw the need for reading materials for people with diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia. With funding and mentorship from on-campus resources, she launched Marlena Books, which now offers a collection of books that can be read independently or used with friends, family, or support partners.
In Sara's case, she discovered her calling during a two-month exchange in Spain. Meeting a victim of human trafficking inspired her to create a non-profit startup to combat this global issue. Once she finishes her degree, Sara wants to earn a Master of Social Work and become an expert to address human trafficking.
Sometimes where your career path leads is different from where you expect, but that's half the fun! University is a great place to explore through classes, co-op, and community engagement.
"Take advantage of all opportunities in front of you. Be present! That's how you'll find your passion." - Jonathan Laurencic, Elora Brewing Company
Check out programs at the University of Waterloo