Summer series: UBC Sauder BCom Co-op students design their futures
Commerce Co-op student
Project Management Intern – Labatt Brewing Company
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 work for a variety of employers in all different sectors of the economy. By gaining in-demand skills and knowledge to augment their academic credentials, these young people come to the job qualified to make a meaningful contribution.
Dhiraj Hariramani is working for Labatt Brewing Company this summer and loving every minute of it. He’s working for a major Canadian brand and gaining practical skills in project management – something he sees himself doing after graduation.
“Working for Labatt has been superb,” says Dhiraj, a fourth-year Commerce student who is specializing in Finance. “I’m a project manager with the Business Transformation Team and we focus on improving automations and efficiencies on the supply side. I’m a bridge between technology and people in the sense that I work with staff in the breweries to understand their requirements and then I communicate them to the developers to create an automation for certain processes that happen in the supply chain.”
Stepping out into the business world
When Dhiraj began his business education at UBC Sauder, he heard there was an opportunity to gain on-the-job experience. The idea appealed to him.
“Some students come in with the mindset of finishing their degree in four years. But then as you go through the Commerce program, you start to realize that there are a lot of different opportunities that you didn’t know existed.”
UBC Sauder’s BCom Co-op Program is open to students entering their second or third year. In addition to completing their academic requirements, they also undertake a minimum of three work terms in the form of four-month internships.
Dhiraj applied and was accepted into the program. Now in his third internship, he says each job experience has built on the one before.
“I started off as a business analyst, then I moved on to data analytics and reporting, and now I’m a project manager,” he explains. “The Co-op Program has given me the opportunity to carve out a career that reflects what I am passionate about, which is blending business with technology.”
The upside of remote internships
In normal times, Dhiraj would have been based at Labatt’s headquarters in Toronto, but he, like so many university students, is working online from his apartment in Vancouver. He doesn’t mind being a remote intern; in fact, there are some advantages.
“In my first online job, I wondered how I was going to connect with people. How would I understand the office dynamics? How would I get a real feel for the corporate world? But people have been working online for a long time now and they’re comfortable with the environment. So you need to think of it as an opportunity. You have access to people and resources just from your laptop, so you can actually build more connections. I’ve met colleagues from across the country.”
Test-driving different careers
According to Dhiraj, one of the best things about Co-op is that you get to pilot different career areas with little risk and get paid while doing it.
“In order to know whether or not you could do something for the rest of your life, I think it’s really important to get that work experience. Your degree takes four or five years but your work is going to go on for a lot longer, so I’d rather get it right and spend an extra year in university than work at a job I do not enjoy.”
As a result of Co-op, Dhiraj is now looking into expanding his scope of study. He’d like to add a specialization in Business Technology Management to his Commerce degree. The extra courses will support him in his ambition to launch a career that combines business with technology. Dhiraj is confident that putting in the extra effort now will yield benefits down the road: Professionally, he will qualify for a wider variety of roles and personally, he will know that he maximized his student experience.