By Yamini Iyer, fourth-year BCom student
Receiving my Gustavson acceptance letter was an exciting start to my four-year university journey. My name is Yamini Iyer and I’m a fourth year BCom student. I chose Gustavson because I grew up on Vancouver Island and have always loved UVic’s beautiful campus. I was drawn by the co-op program and the 2+2 BCom program structure. Every student’s path through the Gustavson BCom looks a little different, depending on the choices they make: what specialization, where you go on exchange, which co-ops you complete, which groups you join. As I near graduation, I’m taking a moment to reflect and share what my personal journey has been, and what one student’s path through the program has looked like.
My involvement with Gustavson started when I joined the pre-core engagement team as a first-year student representative. I promoted and volunteered at pre-core Events. I was also a member of the Young Women in Business executive team. In that role, I collaborated with a group of supportive women to help plan networking events and speaker series. In second year, I joined the Commerce Student Society (CSS) as the Director of the pre-core Case Competition. I planned and executed a case competition where pre-cores were able to improve their analytical and public speaking skills. Participating in these roles was a great chance to connect with business students prior to core year.
In addition to all my work with the CSS, I also took a variety of courses that I found interesting including Spanish, Bollywood studies, sociology and economics. Some of my favourite classes were COM 100: introduction to business decision making and the entrepreneurship course ENT 100, which were a great preamble to core year.
One thing I learned from my time in Pre-Core: By getting involved in various Gustavson pre-core activities, you are able to connect with your Gustavson peers and faculty before starting core year!
Learn more about pre-core here.
After I finished my pre-core year, I landed my first co-op as a business analyst with the Department of National Defence. One of the main features that drew me to Gustavson was its co-op program. Learning material through textbooks is one thing, but I found that you really need to gain hands-on experience to understand what type of work you like and dislike. I chose to do three co-ops because I really wanted to expand my skillset and gain a variety of experience with various organizations. I worked in the Management Systems Division, where I created a centralized database system for the team to conduct an annual compliance review of their 200 Standard Operating Procedures. There were many other co-ops on the base, which made for a fun experience.
One thing I learned from my first co-op: No one expects you to know everything on your first day! Everyone values having a co-op student, so don’t be shy to ask questions and network with people in your team.
Learn more about co-op here.
Just like most students, I was nervous to start core year after hearing daunting stories from senior students. In reality, core year wasn’t as bad as it sounded, it was just different than pre-core. All of a sudden, you’re in a cohort, assigned a seat and your professors know your name!
Core year developed my time management and teamwork skills. Working with the same team and seeing the same people every day for a year allows you to develop strong connections. I spent time in the library with my team working on projects, prepping for exams and drinking lots of coffee to stay awake. The classes required hard work, but the material was interesting, and the professors were helpful. My favourite classes were COM 351 (marketing), COM 341 (operations) and COM 322 (LPO). I was involved in extracurricular activities during pre-core, but during core I chose to focus on my academics and my part-time job as a Federal Government Ambassador. Some highlights from core year were the Workplace Skills Conference, where we got to hear from multiple keynote speakers, and the RBC Case Competition, where we competed in small teams.
One thing I learned during core year: Core year is hard work, but it’s a fun time and goes by quickly! It gives you the chance to learn about time management, teamwork and effective problem solving!
Learn more about years three and four here.
Instead of heading into co-op for the summer like many students do, I chose to pursue my entrepreneurship specialization. I chose this option because I operated my own Bollywood dance school business in Victoria and loved every aspect of it. I loved the entrepreneurship specialization term because of its integrated approach and engaging professors, even in an online setting. My favourite part was working in teams to develop a business idea. This program has equipped me with the necessary skills to be a successful entrepreneur.
One thing I learned during the entrepreneurship specialization: I learned how to create a strong business plan, and conduct market research to assess if my business can grow.
Learn more about specializations here.
For my second co-op, I worked for the BC Public Service at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure as a disaster financial assistance arrangements project assistant. I reviewed and analyzed invoices for past natural disaster events in the province. I ensured all costs claimed were eligible for reimbursement by the Government of Canada.
One thing I learned during my second co-op: I enjoyed the team I worked with and this role improved my analytical skills and attention to detail.
I’ve just completed my last co-op as a social media and events co-op student with the Business Co-op and Career Centre at Gustavson. I managed the Business Co-op and Career LinkedIn page by posting engaging content for our students and employers and assisted with virtual event set-up and promotion.
One thing I learned during my third co-op: I learned how to manage a professional LinkedIn page, plan virtual events and how to work with various stakeholders in a remote environment.
I am currently wrapping up my degree this summer with the service management specialization. Most BCom students only complete one specialization, but I chose to do two. I have always been interested in starting my own service business one day and therefore I decided to double specialize in Entrepreneurship and Service Management to gain the most experience possible in this field. I picked this specialization because I enjoyed operations, marketing and LPO classes from my core year. I love working with people and delivering great customer service and am curious to see how successful businesses operate behind the scenes.
TO GRADUATION, AND BEYOND
I am unsure what I want to do after graduation, but I’ve accepted the fact that it’s okay to not know right away! My first-year self would have expected that I have it all figured out by graduation but four years later, I’ve realized how important it is to be flexible (who thought we would be in a global pandemic now?). My degree has taught me valuable skills such as teamwork, time management, communication, leadership and adaptability. I have discovered areas of interest such as marketing, organizational culture, strategy and event planning. I am hopeful that one day I will be able to run my own business, pursue a career in marketing and communications, or work in public service but the possibilities are endless. As sad as I am to leave Gustavson, I am also excited to use my skills and network I have gained over the last four years, to enter a new chapter of my life!