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End of summer social celebrates co-op students and employers
Okanagan College Media Release

Coop Student of the Year 2019For fourth-year Okanagan College student Connor McCormack, the past eight months spent at accounting firm MNP have affirmed his career choice in more ways than one. So much so that his time in the downtown Kelowna office earned him Okanagan College’s Co-op Student of the Year award recently.

MNP, known for its accounting and business consulting, took McCormack on as a co-op student earlier this year. As part of his Bachelor of Business Administration degree, he opted for a semester of applied learning with the goal of gaining tangible experience in his field. Time spent at MNP meant he could expand his skills and learn more about the industry.

“My co-op experience 100 per cent confirmed that accounting is for me,” he says. “Not only did it solidify the career choices I’m planning to make, but it also gave me valuable insight into the lifestyle and what to expect from the work life balance and routine.”

McCormack was one of many students and employers celebrated at the End of Summer Social, put on by the Student, Graduate and Co-op Employment Centre. Employer of the Year was awarded to the Regional District of the North Okanagan (RDNO).

Both the Student of the Year and Employer of the Year recipients are elected: students nominate their employer and employers nominate students. The basis for nomination consists of those who have gone above and beyond, done outstanding work in their field and fueled a successful and welcoming environment.

Working at MNP, McCormack faced a steep learning curve, but quickly applied a methodical approach to his work. With a foundation of knowledge from classes in financial accounting, management and marketing taken at the College, he gained ground quickly. He learned the ins and outs of corporate files, tax returns, and letter drafting for clients all while being coached by MNP’s on-site performance coaches.

Winning the award came as a “bit of a shock,” says Connor.

“It means a lot to me to win this award. It instills a lot of confidence in my abilities that my efforts were recognized.”

Faye Craven, MNP’s Human Capital Coordinator says that “Connor exceeded all expectations with outstanding performance both technically and in soft skills.”

RDNO has employed Okanagan College students for many years and consistently delivers a supportive environment to explore and address environmental issues that relate to their career aspirations.Coop Employer of the Year 2019

“We value our partnership with Okanagan College,” says Stephen Banmen, RDNO’s General Manager of Finance. “We have subsequently hired a number of our co-op students based on their performance, work ethic and quality education and will continue to do so in the future.”

For students, co-op presents them with a unique opportunity to step outside the classroom and experience work from a relevant perspective. For employers, the gain can be exponential in training young employees, bringing fresh insight to a workplace and potentially hiring students once their term is over.

Co-op at Okanagan College is a mandatory part of the Food, Wine and Tourism programs, including the current Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts programs as well as the new Tourism Management Diploma program. It is optional for all other eligible programs, however, the Okanagan School of Business and Technology departments have the greatest number of participants. Since 2014, 531 students have successfully completed 929 co-op terms, with a near 100 per cent completion rate.

“We hope this event showed the value of taking part in a co-op, and that the time spent in a work-integrated learning environment is invaluable,” says Alison Beaumont of the College’s Student, Graduate and Co-op Employment office.

“These partnerships enable our students to enhance their education in ways that complement their time in the classroom. It’s a win-win for everyone.”