Student stories

Kinesiology student combines his passion of sport with product performance during is co-op.

Erik Van Waes

Garmin Canada

My name is Erik Van Waes and I am currently in my 5th and final year in the kinesiology program at UVic.

Why did you choose to do co-op at UVic?

I chose UVic because of the strong tie it has with my family; my parents met here as student varsity athletes. I myself have a passion for sport and physical activity as a whole. I always wanted an occupation in an active and dynamic setting where I could interact daily with people with similar interests. I chose to participate in the co-op program because I thought it would be a great way to preemptively build my skills as a future health care professional.

What were your responsibilities during your last co-op work term?

My final co-operative education work term was in Cochrane, Alberta with Garmin Canada working as a product performance assistant. My responsibilities included: working with local athletes to test Garmin products like smart watches then recording and processing the captured data.  

What was your favourite part of your last co-op?

My favourite part was working with the group of product testers. The testers were all local, typically from Cochrane or Calgary, and were very passionate about sport, with many being triathlon veterans. I found it interesting and rewarding to work with both this group of characters, and the rest of the product performance team.

What have you learned on your co-op work term?

The most important skill I learned working in this position is how to communicate. I had to use my communication skills while engaging with and organizing groups of people in a fast-paced environment. I worked independently and typically ran 4-6 test sessions a day with 1-4 people, depending on the activity. Each individual had to be orientated and have their individual needs met in order to perform their best. My time at Garmin Canada allowed me to practice and improve my skill level.

Do you feel that you contributed to Garmin Canada?

I feel I made a positive impact at Garmin. I was enabled by my supportive team to work independently, almost more like a peer than a student. I believe this level of autonomy granted to me while at a very large company brought out the best in me and helped my professional development. With this being said, I still had my team's support whenever I had questions, concerns, or problems which, was very encouraging.  

How has co-op helped you with your career exploration and goals?

At this point in time my main goal is to become a physiotherapist. I believe co-op has helped me pursue this goal; it has allowed me to hone my professionalism, and build my interpersonal skills while working with an athletic population. Additionally, it has helped me build confidence and autonomy in a health care setting.    

More about Exercise science, physical and health education co-op