Written by Marjorie Turner (above)

During my first week as a co-op student with Opportunities NB’s (ONB) Export Development Team, Director Suzanne Turmel gave me a book, John Kotter’s Our Iceberg Is Melting. At first glance, it appeared to be a light, almost elementary read compared to the more scholarly, university-level books I had been consuming. Never judge a book by its cover! It set the tone for the next four months.

The story takes place in Antarctica, on an iceberg where an Emperor Penguin colony has lived for as long as they could remember. It was the only home they had ever known. The fable begins with Fred – an unusually curious and observant penguin – discovering that the iceberg has melted in some places and may literally fall apart. Kotter packs in numerous interesting details, analogies, and insights about change-management challenges at work, for example, fear of change and motivating action.

The book suggests a few actions:

  1. Create a Sense of Urgency
  2. Form a Guiding Team
  3. Define a Vision and Strategy for Change
  4. Communicate to Get Buy-In
  5. Empower Others
  6. Achieve Short-term Wins
  7. Build Momentum
  8. Build a New Culture

So, what does this have to do with my 16-week ONB co-op term? Everything. Kotter and Suzanne both understand what is needed to create and guide a team to work on a vision and strategy for change. In our case, it’s about helping New Brunswickers “buy-in” or understand ONB’s mission to empower and support New Brunswick businesses in achieving short and long-term goals and build a stronger economy.

Having good leaders in place creating momentum across an organization and building or maintaining a great culture is essential for the success of anyone in the organization, including co-op students on board for a short time.

The book’s teachings are an example of the leadership, mentorship, and tools Suzanne provided me to learn and grow as I touched real-world projects. Having been an entrepreneur, I understand business owners but did not know the work that goes into energizing the private sector by supporting businesses.

During my ONB tenure, I had the opportunity to:

  • Work on projects and reports prepared for cabinet ministers, the CEO, and other executives;
  • Prepare reports needed for international export officials;
  • Work on ONB’s Energize the Private Sector Charter projects and objectives, contributing research and building a survey;
  • Attend training sessions and team meetings;
  • Participate in the Business Growth Summit Expo, and;
  • Present my work in front of the entire ONB team.

This co-op term has sparked greater interest in both my career path and in doing whatever I can to build New Brunswick’s economy.

My key takeaways from this co-op term:

Work Hard: Put 100% in everything you do. You do not have to be perfect but showing that you are willing to put 100% into whatever you do will pay off in some form or another. For me, working hard resulted in an offer to extend my ONB employment to a part-time internship.

Network: Take advantage of the ecosystem of other employees in the organization. Since beginning at ONB, I have doubled my LinkedIn followers. This will serve me well as I navigate and build my business network.

Let Your Work Shine! Don’t be afraid to step out and show what you are made of. I genuinely believe that you will accomplish more in relation to representing yourself by talking less, listening more, and letting your work do the talking.

My thanks go to Suzanne, Stephen Lund, and the entire ONB team for making this co-op placement the best experience ever!

One hundred per cent of participants would recommend ONB to other students as a place to work. Interested in applying? We are currently recruiting for the Summer 2020 Term!