Student stories

Professional development with the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

Mona Soleimanieh

BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

In the fall of 2021, international computer science student Mona Soleimanieh received the inaugural BC Public Service Student Employee Award for Excellence in Professional Development on her very first work term. As the web technical support co-op student with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Mona’s initiative and commitment to continuous learning helped her approach co-op as an opportunity to connect with her colleagues, as well as learn technical skills.

Mona’s work with the Ministry was split into two areas—working with the web and social media team, as well as supporting the engineering services team. Mona updated and created government websites for clients, collaborated on outside projects, and analyzed survey data to support her team. With the engineering services team, she helped implement an interactive map into the existing website for maintenance contractors, allowing them to understand the steep terrain in their service area.

“The variety of projects I worked on always made me feel excited, as I had something new to work on each day,” she says.

While working with the Ministry, Mona took advantage of mentorship from her supervisor and director, as well as workshops for co-op students on topics like public speaking and using competencies. She also participated in the Co-op Advisory Board, facilitating a meeting and an event. “Through conversations I had with people at work, I was able to participate in projects I was interested in,” she says. Participating in the advisory board helped Mona develop her public speaking skills in a professional environment. “Public speaking is one of my biggest weaknesses, and I learned to challenge myself and overcome this fear,” she says.

Mona also stepped up to the plate during the flooding crisis that impacted BC communities in the fall of 2021. As websites and social media were required to provide updated information and answer questions from the public, Mona supported her colleagues as they provided emergency information by taking initiative to take on extra tasks.

“This award means a lot to me. I am an international student, and this was my very first job since moving to Canada,” says Mona, who was born in Iran and grew up in Japan. Despite her initial nervousness at the learning curve that came with her new role, Mona knew she wanted to get the most out of her time working with the Ministry. “Receiving the award made me feel that my effort was being recognized and that I am doing something right.”

Mona learned from her day-to-day tasks at work, but she also took advantage of her co-op work term to learn from her team members. She recommends that students on work terms take the time to get to know the people they’re working with, and reach out for help and advice when they need it. Mona says, “I think doing co-op is a great way to gain technical skills and experiences we can put on résumés, but we can also gain valuable information and connection from those conversations we have with people at workplaces.” 

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