BCom Co-op student combines work with adventure in the far North


Hesham El Kassem, Commerce Co-op student, Business Improvement Analyst - Government of Yukon


Posted 2021-08-24

One of the things that sets UBC Sauder students apart is the diverse professional experience that they bring to the marketplace. Through the Bachelor of Commerce Co-op program, students complete three or more Co-op work terms with employers in all different sectors of the economy. By gaining in-demand skills and knowledge to augment their academic credentials, Co-op students come to the job qualified to make a meaningful contribution.

As provinces and cities across Canada slowly opened this summer following the COVID-19 pandemic, Hesham El Kassem—a fifth-year student at the UBC Sauder School of Business—felt the mysteries of Canada's North were extending an invitation.

The resident of Vancouver put aside the lure of the city’s beaches and went to live and work in Yukon for the summer.

Gaining meaningful work experience through Co-op

Hesham—who is pursuing a dual specialization in Operations and Logistics and Business Technology Management—was hired as a Business Improvement Analyst within the Government of Yukon's Business Modernization Unit. His job entails rolling out projects that bring innovation to critical functions and improve the delivery of government services across the territory.

"Our unit basically serves as a consultancy unit for the rest of government,” explains Hesham from his apartment in Whitehorse. "So, whenever other areas of government want to improve or modernize certain processes, they reach out to us and we help them achieve that transformation."

In one project, Hesham is helping the government's Transportation Maintenance Branch digitize the process of evaluating access to public highways in the territory. The academic courses he’s taken have proven to be useful as he’s able to apply his knowledge of how information flows and different systems work and interact.

"Our overarching goal is to reduce costs incurred by the government because at the end of the day, it's the taxpayers' dollars being spent. And this in turn increases trust in the government. Playing a part in modernizing processes helps remove the stereotype that governments are slow or inefficient,” he says. “My workplace is the most innovative department of a government I've ever come across and that alone instils so much meaning into my work.”

Hashem and Team

Creating memories in the land of the midnight sun

Spending a summer in Yukon is also satiating Hesham's appetite for adventure. When not working, he heads outdoors to explore different hiking trails and experience Yukon’s famously long summer days and short nights.


"The snowy weather in Yukon doesn't allow for a lot of green growth throughout the year so what you get is a different, rugged kind of beauty that's just as stunning—uninterrupted, untouched and unending expanses of picturesque nature.

Supporting students to achieve their aspirations

Hesham credits the Co-op team at the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre for making his summer adventure possible. 

"My Co-op manager helped me prepare for the final interview. We talked about how to structure my answers, what parts of my past work I should focus on, and so on.” 

He also connected with another Co-op student who had previously worked for the Government of Yukon and was eager to share her insights.

“That gave me a tremendous confidence boost going into the interview," says Hesham. 

Aside from the fun of exploring such a unique part of the world, Hesham says he’s enjoyed his job so much that he’s now contemplating becoming a consultant after graduation. 

“I’ve found the work really rewarding and it’s cemented my desire to work in a consulting or a business analytics field in the future,” says Hesham. 

With a diverse set of skills from his academic program and on-the-job learning, he’s heading into a future full of possibility: one that may combine his passion for business analysis and problem-solving with his love of travel.


For more information:

UBC Sauder Commerce students entering their second and third years of study are invited to apply to the Co-op Program. The application deadline is September 21, 2021. Register for an Information Session taking place on Wednesday, August 25 at 5:00pm PT.