Tess Lipinski’s Co-op experience was certainly not a smooth ride. Half way through her first Co-op semester as Marketing Executive for new start-up Work.learn.travel, the company was forced to lay off half of the staff, and Tess was one of the unfortunate ones. Tess recalls the moment vividly, “I called my Co-op coordinator freaking out because I didn’t know what to do!” Thankfully, the Co-op team at Langara were able to put her in touch with another company, and although the administrative position they offered wasn’t ideal, it gave Tess new opportunities to explore and being a Co-op student meant the company were open to letting her try new things. Additionally, dealing with the disappointment and uncertainty of a tough situation developed resilience in Tess and boosted her confidence.
Five years later, Tess is living in London!
Langara caught up with Tess recently, and asked her to reflect on how the Co-op experience had shaped her journey to Europe:
What work are you doing now?
I work at Tableau in the London office as a Sales Programs and Events Specialist for the EMEA region. When I first came to London, I didn’t have any job prospects. I posted my CV on a job search website and ended up getting contacted by a recruiter. They had done a keyword search on SalesForce, which is a software program that I learned how to use at my co-op. They called me a few times, but I wasn’t really interested in the position because it was an admin role but they kept saying, “No, trust me. You’re going to love it. The company’s great and very fast growing.” And I said to myself, “Yeah right, I’ve heard that before”. I didn’t really want to talk to the recruiter anymore but they convinced me to go for an interview. Once I learned about the company, the culture, and how fast it was indeed growing, I ended up taking the job. I did some admin work at first but, I learned fast and quickly began taking on new challenges and even supporting our VP of Sales for EMEA. I was supposed to be in London for one year and now it’s been nearly five. When I started, I was the 16th or so employee in London. Now we have about 300 employees in London and have opened three other offices across Europe. So we’ve been experiencing insane growth! Currently, I organize our sales programs and events for the region. This involves organizing sales training, program rollouts, managing conferences, and generally making sure the sales team has what they need to succeed.
How did your co-op jobs prepare you for the work that you’re doing now?
Co-op helps you get your foot in the door. Vancouver was, and still is, an intense job market. If you have no professional experience at all it’s very difficult to get a job. If I hadn’t done my co-op term at Work.Travel.Learn, getting another job would have been a lot more challenging. My co-op also taught me how to deal with tough situations right away and really boosted my confidence.
Looking forward, where would you like your career to go?
My role at Tableau has evolved into managing internal events, which has really developed my skills in project management. I always wanted this kind of role so I’m very happy about it. Moving forward, I will continue to push to specialize in large-scale event and project management.
What would you say to someone who asks you about co-op?
I would say definitely do it. If you’re a student, it means so much more if you can pair what you’ve learned in class with hands on experience. It will definitely set you up for more and faster success when you are ready to get your second job when you graduate.