Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Doing four Co-op placements best decision, says StFX nutrition student Mike Keough

July 13th, 2017
Mike Keough

It’s been a busy, productive 16 months for StFX human nutrition student Mike Keough – completing four back-to-back work placements through StFX’s Co-operative Education Program.

“It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. The personal growth I’ve experienced has been incredible,” says the Sydney, NS native entering his final year at StFX this September.

“The self-confidence, in itself, is the biggest thing, and the professional skills, even being comfortable to provide my opinion on a subject, I feel like that’s been a huge gain through the co-op experience,” he says.

Starting in May 2016, he’s worked with the CACL in Antigonish as a community employment assistant; with Sodexo at StFX as a marketing supervisor; with Health Canada in Ottawa as a research assistant in the Bureau of Nutritional Sciences; and he is currently the campaign and events assistant with St. Martha’s Hospital Foundation in Antigonish.

Mr. Keough says the placements have helped him become more well-rounded both as a person and as a professional, and the experience with Health Canada, in particular, has given him the confidence to enroll in the honours program at StFX when he returns to classes in September.

He will do his honours in food sciences, working with supervisor and nutrition professor Marcia English, who is partnering with StFX chemistry professor Dr. Shah Razul on research to explore a new way of preserving frozen lobster to better preserve the flavour.

Mr. Keough says he was initially attracted to the co-op program as he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after his degree.

While he hasn’t yet narrowed this focus, he says, “one of the biggest lessons is I know I have the skills, the ability and the ambition.”

Mr. Keough says through his work terms, he’s gotten a taste of a lot of different aspects of professional life, from working as part of a team to strengthening his communication and interpersonal skills. He’s gained skills in marketing, research, not-for-profits and in fundraising, all experience that should serve him well when he enters the job market.

He’s also looking forward to applying these skills when he returns to the classroom in September.

His advice to anyone considering the co-op program? “Go in with an open mind, be flexible, and don’t be afraid to try something new. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. It’s ultimately how you grow.”

 

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