Student stories

BCOM Alumna shares her valuable experience with the Government of Canada

Lumin McCutcheon

Government of Canada's Department of National Defence

Lumin McCutcheon is a recent Bachelor of Commerce graduate from the Gustavson School of Business. During her degree, she completed a co-op work term with the Government of Canada’s Department of National Defence. Learn about her experience below.

Why did you choose UVic, your program and co-op?

I’ve always been ambitious to understand the influence culture has on commerce and curious about how this knowledge can be used to benefit various stakeholders. This is why I chose to study at UVic’s Gustavson School of Business. Growing up in a 5,000-person small town, I’ve come a long way in fulfilling this passion and refining my experience in global business dynamics each step of the way.

During my time pursing the International Business specialization, I eminently grew both academically and as an individual. I developed a notable skillset to think critically upon understanding business practices. Throughout co-op placements, I applied the skills and knowledge my degree has provided me. I have employed entrepreneurship with a paddle-board company and was a Business Analyst with ATB Financial, and the Department of National Defence. Looking back at the collective of my co-op experiences, I was exposed to an abundance of avenues that I couldn’t have dreamt of when first starting my degree.

What Government department did you work with?

I worked with the Department of National Defence at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt.

What was your experience like with Government?

In January of 2019, I began working as a Business Analyst with the Department of National Defence (DND). I was located in the Fleet Maintenance Facility - Cape Breton (FMFCB) operating out of the Engineering Division. This unit is responsible for the maintenance and repair of DND's west coast naval fleet at CFB Esquimalt, with various buildings and operations throughout Dockyard, on the naval base. Having previous experience as a business analyst in the financial industry, this position appealed to me as an opportunity to get a feel for the government. In recognition of my successes after four months in my co-op position, I was offered the opportunity to stay on with the Engineering Division, as a casual employee. In this role, as a financial assistant, I worked part-time in tandem with my academic pursuits up until I finished my degree. 

What was your experience with the Government hiring process?

Specific to government interviews, I was fortunate to see the process from both sides of the table. As an interviewee, I felt the questions asked were all in-line with the job posting description, which enabled me to provide thorough responses. On the other hand, the latter portion of my involvement with DND as a casual employee entailed playing an integral role in on-boarding for new co-op students, including question development and interviewing. This allowed me to gain a comprehensive picture of the student hiring process, and how the evaluation process allows for fair assessment of an individual’s skills. 

What were the key responsibilities in your role?

In my time with the government, my tasks were centralized within Engineering Technical Services. However, some projects extended beyond this domain, as I also interacted with other functional areas - Naval Architecture, Marine Systems, and Combat Systems. My duties in both government positions consisted of creating and distributing data reports, utilizing Systems, Applications and Products (SAP), highlighting key operational and project-related metrics, and various financial and administrative tasks. While this largely incorporated research and analytical skills, communicating with a variety of individuals and working collaboratively were equally important. Course concepts learned from core-year courses relating to operations management, finance, and fundamental strategic thinking were very applicable, especially when extracting data and creating reports.

What were your highlights and takeaways from your position?

Personally, being around others who genuinely engage in aiding professional development processes are what make work terms enjoyable and valuable. My supervisor Vic, was incredible in this respect, providing professional advice and mentorship beyond just what was required. His passion for bringing students into the workplace at DND was admirable, and shone through myself, and other co-op students. As I transitioned into my casual role, my new supervisor, Tom, embodied these same fundamental qualities and dedication. Their lessons and advice provided me with valuable tips to carry with me throughout my future experiences. Additionally, government exposure allowed for me to realize the importance of a work-life balance. All in all, understanding the strategic objectives and environment of working for the Federal Government was a valuable experience which also provided opportunities to grow my network and explore a variety of career options. 

How do you compare hands-on learning with classroom learning?

I’ve always been someone who thrives when presented with hands-on experience and when faced with ambiguity. Learning in a classroom setting is a vital piece in the developmental process; however, utilizing these concepts in practice to produce tangible results is where cohesive understanding formulates. Speaking to my unique learning type, professional exposure applies and challenges the key takeaways I derived from coursework, while also allowing for realization of linkages across the various business areas.

How has your co-op experience helped you to get to your current position?

Upon completion of my degree in the summer of 2019, I accepted my current position with Gustavson’s Executive Programs team - something I wouldn’t have attained without the collective professional development and exposure gained throughout my degree. In this role, I have the incredible opportunity to work closely with an abundance of collaborators and Indigenous communities around British Columbia with my current focus on the Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs (ACE) and E-Commerce EAGLE programs. I enjoy connecting with new people and engaging in conversation. I have coached a number of individuals on personal branding strategies for success in the job-search process. Looking ahead, I am obsessed with delving deeper into how I can help individuals and businesses succeed, ambitious to continuously learn as globalization and technology increasingly excel, and excited to grow my passion, knowledge, and experiences. 

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