The student perspective: Sophie Mok

The student perspective: Sophie Mok

I am a co-op student and have been working as a Project Assistant at the UBC CIC since January 2023. With my time at the CIC set to end in a few days, a lot of thoughts come to my mind as I reflect on my journey and growth as an employee here.

When I first began, I knew immediately based on the workplace interactions and events (notably the weekly coffee breaks) that the work environment would be comfortable and friendly. Despite sensing the positivity, I did have some anxieties when starting. As I read the onboarding documents, it felt overwhelming. There was a lot to learn in terms of how the CIC functions, the flow and timeline of projects, instructions for documentation, and more. However, as time went on and I began taking on project-related tasks, everything started making sense because I got to apply that knowledge.

From my experience at the UBC CIC, I got to learn a lot more about the CIC’s brand of Community Health and Wellbeing. I had not anticipated the wealth of knowledge I now have about the technological and logistical systems within healthcare settings. On top of the healthcare knowledge, as a PA I definitely gained a plethora of skills in project management, communication, group/meeting facilitation, and leadership, among others, that can be transferred to other settings. I also experienced the multitude of tasks that occur at work: administrative, project-planning and background work, and working with external clients. Working at the CIC also helped me gain confidence in the skills I possessed. Although I went into the CIC having a level of competence in skills like organisation or leading meetings, I became more confident in using those skills within a professional (and not just academic) setting.

One more aspect I appreciate about the CIC that separated this work experience from my other ones was the amount of personalisation provided by my (primary) manager, Liana. Since the CIC emphasises heavily on being a workplace that provides experiential learning to students, decisions about my learning experience such as the frequency and amount of feedback, or how hands-on she would be at meetings with clients were made based on my preferences and with the goal of refining those skills.

Reflecting on my last 8 months at the CIC, I can think of two major takeaways. The first is understanding why having meetings is crucial to progress. When I first started, I did not fully understand why meetings were happening so frequently. Eventually, it became an eye-opening experience as I got to see the efficiency of the Student Developers’ development process. Listening to the conversations between the Student Developers and the project management team also consolidated the understanding that having discussions face-to-face can bring up topics that would otherwise not have occurred without the meetings.

My second takeaway is that the CIC sets the expectation of what a healthy and positive workplace should be like. The people were approachable and the work culture/condition was nurturing and welcoming.

To wrap up, my main piece of advice for future CIC student employees is to be proactive. The UBC CIC is a good opportunity to work while learning. Although there are expectations of demonstrating good work, every task could be a learning opportunity to receive feedback. I am glad I had the opportunity to have worked in such a rewarding position alongside the long-term and student at the UBC CIC.

A picture of the post's author, Sophie Mok.