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Thoughts from a co-op student at Nestlé

13 Feb

I’m spending this semester on a co-op term at Nestlé Canada working with their Customer Development team. It’s about a month into the term and I figured that I would share more experience so far as well as a few tips for fellow co-ops.

First impressions at Nestlé? I absolutely love it there! Yes, it’s only been a month, but I could really tell that Nestlé was a company that valued its employees and that they wanted to make sure that this was a valuable learning experience for me. It was the little things that stood out to me. Like random jokes at meetings to employees who would make sure to explain acronyms and terminology to me in meetings. Plus, people were so willing to grab lunch or go for coffee to share their career advice (If you have no idea what you want to do, take the time to learn about your co-workers’ career paths, it helps a lot to just listen to other people sometimes). Some of the people I’ve talked to have spent around thirty years with the company. There were also plenty of people just starting their careers at the company who liked it enough to stay. You can tell that Nestlé’s a company where people can have their fun but still work hard.

The learning curve? I’ll admit, it was kind of overwhelming to come into a team where there were so many acronyms and new tools. There were definitely times where I felt like I was asking a silly question. But, everyone assured me that there’s no such thing as a silly question and people were more than willing to take time out and explain things. I definitely got my money’s worth out of my notebook! (If you’re a co-op, get used to carrying a notebook and get comfortable taking notes while people are talking to you, it might feel strange at first, but it’s completely normal!). So, a month later, things are making a lot more sense. What I really appreciated was that people intentionally challenged me. I was literally given projects and told that I probably wouldn’t know exactly how to do it, but to take a stab at it and we’d discuss it after. It was a great way to learn because I was forced to think for myself. Normally, people teach you things step by step and you learn from there, but being left to figure things out once in a while was a valuable learning opportunity.

I also like the variety in the work I have. Some of it is pretty routine, but I also get lots of ad-hoc projects as well as a few larger, longer-term projects. It keeps me interested and challenged.

Favourite moments so far? During my third week at Nestlé, I attended a 3-day sales conference with my team (my very first work conference!!). It allowed me to get to know the team outside of work and sit in on meetings and workshops. While a lot of the material was like a foreign language to me, it was good to see some of the people that our team interacts with. Plus, I had the opportunity to hear the Nestlé Canada CEO, Tim Brown, give a closing keynote! Let’s just say that so far, Nestlé’s been much more than “just your average co-op term”!

Btw, the views expressed above do not represent the views in any way of Nestle Canada or its affiliates. They are simply my own individual thoughts.

If you’ve been on a co-op term or internship, let me know your experiences, tips, and tricks in the comments! 🙂

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Maybe you should just take some responsibility

1 Dec

Recently, I participated in an external review of the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Management (B.B.A.) Program. In a nutshell, a bunch of students gave their feedback to three representatives from Harvard, Dalhousie, and Sauder. The whole point is to improve the status and quality of the Management Program. There was some great feedback about the program as well as some constructive criticism on how to improve it.

My issue was that some of the students at the review seemed to blame the university for their misfortunes or lack of effort. There were students complaining that the Management Program does not provide enough support for graduating students, yet, our campus has a Career Centre and online job postings available. Some students proposed that Management students should have a separate career centre to focus on business-related jobs. Seriously? That’s a lot of resources for a segment of our campus. Not really worth it’s weight in resources. My honest opinion is that the university actually does a great job of preparing graduating students. There’s seminars and workshops to prepare you as well as individual appointments with career counselors. While this information is usually not specific to management students, you can definitely take the overall content and use it in your applications. Plus, there are tons of professors at UTSC who would be more than willing to help you target your resume for a specific industry or provide advice.  I’ve met professors who would literally sit down and go through a 30+ page business plan for you if you asked! In life, no one is going to spoon feed you, university should be no different. It’s up to you to actually find the information that you need. Anyone can jump online and search “finance resumes” for tons of advice. Combine that with general advice, knowledge from industry professionals, and you’ve likely got a stellar job application.

Someone I worked with once told me not to take my lawn chair out just yet, to stay hungry.  Great advice. If you’re always looking for the next opportunity, you’re always learning and absorbing information. If you really want to break into a career in marketing/finance/accounting/etc., you’ll do whatever it takes to get there. That is taking responsibility for your own destiny.

Mo Social

28 Nov


A few weeks ago, we held a social at the London Tap House in Toronto to raise money for Movember (Prostate Cancer Canada). LTH Toronto was super-generous by donating all of the food for our mix-and-mingle and throwing in some champagne! Plus, the music was great, as usual! We’ve managed to raise over $500, most of which we have to owe to the help of our co-op coordinators at the University of Toronto! Why is this post-worthy? Well, the end of November means the end of all (or at least most) of these mustaches in Toronto! Now, THAT is something worth celebrating!

You can still donate now (Team CSA, Team Captain: Isan Yang) and help make a difference.
www.movember.com

Water, water everywhere

16 Oct

Turn on the tap, it’s easy to forget that 1.2 billion people don’t have access to safe drinking water around the world.  Children miss school due to illnesses caused by drinking unsafe water, which they had to miss school to get from wells or water sources kilometers away. Learn more at Free the Children here.

It’s tricky to think about how I would change this? I’m just one person, right? And while, change might not happen overnight, it’s important not to forget that we have a duty to do something – campaign, spread the word, tweet, volunteer, donate.

Homeless but still human

25 Dec

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It’s Christmas time. People tend to be more generous around this time. You see them dropping hundreds of dollars on clothes, toys, and gifts for people…maybe even stuff for themselves. You also will find that people are more charitable during the holidays. I read an article in the Toronto Star about people who did good deeds. Stories like this restore my faith in humankind.

But, today, I was reminded that life isn’t as rosy as I’d like to think. Most people aren’t that kind. Today, on the subway, this man walked in and sat down. He quietly asked the woman beside him if she had any change. He was polite. He was not offensive or pressuring her. She didn’t even look him in the eye or bother telling him that she doesn’t have change. She just got up and moved further down on the train. He asked another one, and she just didn’t look at him either. Then, he got off at Queen station.

If I walked on the subway and asked someone for change, dressed as I usually do, I can guarantee you that I would be treated much better than that man. But is it fair that I get respect because I look “clean” and he gets none because his clothes are tattered and hair unkempt? People are people.

Whenever things such as this happen, I regret working downtown. I feel as if I lose a piece of myself each time I walk by someone without helping. I’m torn, between wanting to help and being able to. If I could afford to buy lunch for every street person I met, I would. But, at this point, it’s just not feasible for me. And, whenever I do help, I feel as if I’m not doing enough. Really though, a muffin might help fill you up for a day. But, what about the next day? How do I even know that that person will still be walking and breathing the next day?

I’ll admit, I usually don’t give out change to people on the street. And, yes, I do reason it as not wanting to give out change when I don’t know what it’s going toward. So, really, I’m not any more kind than anyone else. In fact, I’m just as much of a jerk as the next person. But, what happened to the simple decency to acknowledge someone? He was a human being. Is there anything else needed for you to simply shake your head “no” if you don’t have change? Or say, “I’m sorry I don’t”? Or even look him in the eyes? I don’t care if you even lie to him when you’re saying it. It’s the principle of giving someone respect and keeping his or her dignity intact.

People avoid eye contact or any contact for that matter. Maybe it’s fear or perhaps it’s ignorance or maybe it just hurts your heart a little too much to look. I never look away. It’s my way of reminding myself that: (1) I’m lucky as hell to have the life that I do, (2) When I can, I should give back and help someone out, (3) This world is in a sucky state and I need to do something, someday to fix that.

Yes, I know I’m young and idealistic. But, what’s wrong with that? I refuse to give up on dreaming that I can change something.

I can’t convince everyone (if there’s anyone reading) to buy someone on the street a muffin or lunch. I don’t even do that myself except from time to time.  But, at least acknowledge that person you walk by everyday. A simple smile or a thank you makes a difference as well. It helps to rebuild that dignity, that human connection.

This holiday season, I hope that you take the time to give back to your community. And, I thank all of the good people who do this already – you rock my socks and shoes! 🙂

Make a move

4 Dec

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I’m sure everyone out there has had hopes and dreams as a child. The problem is most people don’t follow through with those dreams. And while I’m probably never going to become a famous artist or a doctor, I still have other hopes, dreams, and goals that I set for myself. My biggest fear is that time will pass, and ten years later the opportunity will have gone. I DO NOT want to end up as someone who has regrets about “What could have been if only…”. Instead, I want to be that person who follows through on her dreams…and who actually achieves something amazing. I want to be that old person who has awesome stories for her grand kids. I want to say that I’ve lived a pretty damn good life.

But that’s my problem. I want, I wish, I hope, I dream. But, so far, I don’t feel as if I’ve acted. I mean, yes, I’ve acted on little things – the smaller goals. But the big, comparable to climbing a mountain goals are still untouched.

One of the goals that I’ve had for a long time is to start up a company. But, I’ve been stumped as to what. I’ve got so many ideas that I’m not quite sure which ones would be best. My indecisiveness (and fear of failing) are what’s stopping me from just starting up a business. Recently though, I’ve been reading about a lot of young entrepreneurs….and it’s making me want to start even more. I’m hoping that soon enough, the fire under my bum will be big enough that I’ll actually take the next step. If I do, you’ll definitely be updated on my progress. But for now, I’ll just keep on dreaming and maybe one day I’ll be ready.