Co-op interns show off creative side

While Statistics Canada reported a 17 per cent unemployment rate for 15-24 year-old students this past summer, Faculty of Arts and Science co-op students told a different story, as they were all too happy to flash evidence of their impressive co-op work term experiences.

Students submitted work related pictures for the second year of the Co-operative Education and Internship Programs' photo contest. Arts and science co-op students are voting for this year's winner out of three finalists.

Gavin McAtee, a third-year kinesiology and psychology major, clearly had a lot of fun on his work term at Camp Warwa, west of Edmonton.

"This photo encompasses my entire experience as a summer camp counsellor/outdoor school co-ordinator. Not only did I have the opportunity to work with a variety of different age groups, I also had a blast while doing it," says McAtee.

Co-op student Gavin McAtee alongside a stormtrooper in

He says that the work term has clarified his career aspirations.

"As the result of my co-op experience, it has finally become clear that I wish to use my university education to pursue a career that provides athletic development programs for youth."

Evan Vandervalk, entering his third year in biological sciences, used pictures to compare old and new ways of tracking grizzly bears.

"My job this summer was to set up, bait and re-visit what are called 'hair snag sites'," says Vandervalk. "A bait pile, made up of sticks, moss, and rotten cow's blood serves to draw bears into the corral, over the single strand of wire, on which they snag their fur."

The data collected was used to estimate the grizzly population in the area near Hinton, Alta.

"My supervisor is hoping that these sorts of sites will function as a cheaper and less invasive way to monitor grizzly populations as compared to the collaring and trapping typically done in the past, which causes stress to the animal and costs more money," says Vandervalk.

Other students have focused on the natural beauty of their work settings, including 2011 contest finalist, Lucas Pittman. A fourth-year environmental science student, Pittman did a co-op work term with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and is pictured walking in the direction of Chief Mountain and Waterton Lakes National Park.

"That's me using my hand-made yoke to carry out bags of weeds, which we manually removed from the Shoderee Ranch Property," says Pittman.

Inuit family
An Inuit family jigging for Arctic Char and seals on the broken ice near Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Photo by Lorin Doerksen

Lorin Doerksen's breathtaking photo in Nunavut was a part of last year's contest. He completed a 16-month co-op work term with Environment Canada before graduating with a Bachelor of Science with Co-operative Education last June. He now works for a small environmental consulting company in the upstream oil and gas industry.

"The experiences gained during the internship have proven useful, not only in getting my resumé noticed, but also in improving my ability to adapt to a new company and new responsibilities," says Doerksen.

Despite appearances to the contrary, Doerksen explains his photo was actually a late night scene taken at 1 a.m. one July morning.

"One evening I caught a ride out along the bay to a fishing spot. Each summer, by about July, the bay ice breaks up and Arctic Char move in to feed," says Doerksen. "Seals also follow the Char into the bay. Inuit families make use of the 24-hour sunlight to fish late into the night."

As a student intern, Doerksen was part of the Contaminated Sites Expert Support Group covering the Prairie and Northern Region.

"Contaminated sites include old mines (gold, uranium and silver), tailings ponds, Distant Early Warning (DEW) line sites in the arctic, and various other contamination sites all over the southern parts of our region."

Jasminn Berteotti, Applied Studies and Co-operative Education co-ordinator for the Faculty of Arts and Science, explains why the photo contest was started.

"We wanted to give our co-op students a creative venue for sharing amazing work term experiences with each other," she says. "We were looking for a 'Wow! Look what I did,' kind of message, and I think it worked. Our students get to do and see remarkable things, and this is the perfect way to showcase it."