Student stories

English Major Learns Valuable Skills While Working With Service Canada

Julian Sketchley

Service Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada

Julian Sketchley is a fourth year English and Communications student. He completed a co-op work term with Service Canada as well as Public Services and Procurement Canada.

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

I was born in Victoria and started in the Physics & Astronomy program. Seeing as Physics and Astronomy were difficult, I switched into English as it was easier and seemed fun. I joined co-op when I started my fourth year. I attended a “What can you do with your degree in English” panel where I had the opportunity to hear from former English majors who participated in co-op. Hearing their experiences inspired me to take part in this valuable program, especially if you don’t know what you want to do.

What Government department did you work with?

I worked with Service Canada in Victoria as well as Public Services and Procurement Canada in Gatineau, Quebec.

What was your experience with the Government hiring process?

They made the interview and application process a little bit different than normal. They were looking for someone who could do video, design and other creative work, so they managed to tailor the interview around that rather than going through the normal government process. I had picked up a lot of videography/photography skills in my previous co-op but didn’t have any design experience. I guess they figured I had half of the skillset they were looking for and could probably pick up the rest. One of the things they asked me was how good my drawing skills were and I showed them this one painting of a cup noodle I made as a joke once, and I think that’s what sold them on hiring me.

What were the key responsibilities in your role?

My co-op included a variety of visual communications work. I had the chance to try a range of new tasks and develop new skills. My work involved writing, photography/videography and document and graphic design.

What were your highlights and takeaways from your position?

I think my favourite part was the work environment. Everyone is generally really positive and encouraging. Sometimes too positive, even. My team leader, Theresa would always compliment my work whenever she walked past my desk, which increased my confidence and motivation!

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

Most of the skills I have learned have been through hands-on projects from my co-op work experience. I learned videography and social media skills as well as basic design skills over both my work terms.

What are your future career plans and how has coop helped guide you in this direction?

One thing co-op has helped me realize is what skills and experiences I’m lacking. In the future, I would like to continue working on something in the communications/media field. One neat aspect of Government is that they are usually interested in retaining their students post co-op, either as a part time employee or transitioning them through the bridging program into a full-time position upon graduation. I have been alternating working part-time and full-time while I finish up my classes and would be open to the opportunity of pursuing a full-time career with government.

More about Humanities and fine arts co-op