The Impact Your Co-Op can Have

We see a lot on campus and online about what completing Co-Ops can do for students — whether it’s building career skills, bolstering your resume, or networking within your desired field. Which is all true, and very valuable! But what about the impact that students can have on their communities when they complete a Co-Op?

In the summer of 2021 I completed my first Co-Op term with the Canadian Red Cross in a COVID-19 mass-vaccination clinic. You can read more about my experience here.

I also came back to the operation in late 2022 to help with the roll-out of booster shots. Then in January 2023, the Canadian Red Cross held a virtual BC-Vax ending celebration.

Thank-you notes from beneficiaries

It was at this virtual event where I learned some statistics that put this operation, and my involvement in it, into perspective. For example, the Canadian Red Cross supported 1.8 million vaccinations in BC.

Over 800 CRC staff helped run more than 300 vaccination clinics across BC. The event also featured videos from Dr. Bonnie Henry (Provincial Health Officer for BC) and BC Prime Minister David Eby, saying that this operation could not have been successful without CRC staff.

Message from Bonnie Henry

Many of these CRC staff were Co-Op students — at least 10 members of the staff at my clinic alone were Co-Op students at UVic, and many other students from institutions across the province were involved with BC Vax.

While I completed this Co-Op term a year-and-a-half ago, hearing these numbers brought me right back to the sense of pride and camaraderie I felt getting to help make a difference in my community every day.

Part of the team at the CRC

I speak about this experience again because I think it’s important to highlight the impact your Co-Op can have. Even if you’re working in a field completely unrelated to healthcare, many Co-Op jobs work directly with community members, or ask you to create work that will impact people in beneficial ways.

While you’re searching for a Co-Op job, or even contemplating whether you should sign-up for the Co-Op program, keep in mind what good your Co-Op can do — and how worthwhile this makes your work.

The Canadian Red Cross’s virtual celebration ended with a quote from a person who received their vaccine: “Thank you for being the driving force behind the world getting back to normal… Not all heroes wear capes — some wear masks, ID tags, red vests, and hand out stickers.” While some may say it’s cheesy, I think this quote is representative of how important this work was, and how important many other Co-Op jobs are.

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