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Kathleen Chan focuses her career path with co-op


For any student considering whether a co-op program is a worthwhile experience, they need look no further than Kathleen Chan, a management co-op student who is graduating this June.

Chan’s co-op terms have taken her from tech start-up company, Tunezy, to a top player in the technology industry, Microsoft. Along the way, she found herself a part-time job in marketing, her field of specialty, and discovered that she was passionate about pursuing a career in the high-tech sector.

“I had always been active in school, and I wanted a program with real-world experience,” she said.

She got that experience – by the bucketful. Her first co-op term was spent with Tunezy, a company that helps emerging musicians find an audience and gives the audience chances to connect personally with the musicians. It was founded by UTSC graduates, Derrick Fung and Brandon Chu, and Chan joined them just after they launched the company.

“There were only four or five of us and we began working out of one of their parents’ basements,” said Chan. “They weren’t treating me like a student, and I got experience in all aspects of marketing. I made mistakes and learned from them, and I had a ton of responsibility.

“That was the whole reason I picked a start-up. It was unorthodox, but the experience was unmatched and it led me into the tech world.”

Her next work term took her to Microsoft, a very competitive placement opportunity. Chan successfully interviewed for the position and worked with the student audience, promoting student mobile application development. She was involved in mounting and hosting a number of student-oriented events and competitions, travelling to various Canadian cities on Microsoft’s behalf. After spending two work terms at Microsoft, she has continued to work there part-time while finishing her degree.

“Microsoft was more structured, and I learned how corporations work, while honing my skills,” she said.

Chan said her co-op experiences have made her realize that she wants to pursue a career within the high tech industry and taught her that she has an entrepreneurial spirit that may lead her to develop a start-up of her own someday.

“If I had to do it all over again, I would take a co-op program in whatever area interested me,” she said. “It matures you faster and you learn what you like and want. You can develop at warp speed.”

© University of Toronto Scarborough