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From the Desk of a Co-op Student


May 25, 2012

Ria Aikat, Marketing Co-op Student

I first started working with FreeBalance in January this year. The term started with a training day for all 17 students where we introduced ourselves and were given an overview of the company’s purpose, products, standards etc. Instead of being given a manual to read about the company, different employees were asked to explain various layers of the company, giving us the opportunity to ask questions and actively interact with each other as early as the first day. At the end of the day, we were given a tour of the office and were explained the open-office concept that was implemented by President and CEO, Manuel Pietra. This concept was new to me and I was hoping to quickly get adjusted to the no-cubicle environment.  We were finally split into our respective teams around the office (Marketing, Finance, Quality Assurance, Human Resources), and settled into our spots for the next 4-8 months.

I had the opportunity of working with the extremely hardworking yet easy going marketing team of FreeBalance. Here, I was given the chance to work on weekly updates, press release distributions, partner/country profiles, procurement opportunities, how-to documents, and much more. The quality and quantity of tasks assigned to co-op students is something I do not take for granted. These tasks have allowed me to refine old skills as well as gain new ones that are all relevant to my degree and specialization. They have allowed me to take concepts learned in past courses and apply them to a real work-setting.

My last two work terms are being spent with FreeBalance, and there are many traits of this company that make it so unique to my previous work terms. It was a welcomed change to see how different Marketing can be in the public and private sector – most noticeably the speed and approval processes. When looking at FreeBalance as a whole, it is wonderful to see how diverse and multilingual the entire staff is. Every day, different languages are spoken, Skype is used to connect to employees stationed all over the world, and staff is sent to travel to various countries of interest.  Multiculturalism and diversity is an important value of mine, so I was happy to see this present throughout my work term. I did eventually become accustomed to the open office environment, and appreciated how well it allows staff to interact and integrate with each other. It gave me a sense of space that felt both supportive and open at all times when working.

FreeBalance turned out to be the best work term I’ve had so far. It is a fantastic place for students to receive meaningful tasks and really feel part of the team and not just a copy girl/boy. The amount of students hired continues to grow each term, and I am very grateful for the company going through the efforts to keep as many students possible for the summer semester as well.  They have given us students so many opportunities to learn, grow, and move onto future endeavors with an incredibly valuable and memorable work experience under our belt.

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