Why I recommend a Canadian Red Cross co-op term

By: Maddy Morrison, Red Cross guest blog contributor

This post has been adapted from MyUVicLife, the University of Victoria’s student blog.

In Summer 2021, I completed my first co-op term with the Canadian Red Cross, as an Emergency Care Worker in the Langford COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic. Although working in a healthcare setting was never how I imagined spending my first co-op, this summer work term proved to be one of the best work experiences I’ve ever had – and the Red Cross is to thank for that!
My role focused on supporting beneficiaries receiving their COVID-19 vaccine, while maintaining pandemic safety protocols. My job entailed everything from signing patients in and handing out stickers and hand sanitizer, to providing emotional support to people feeling nervous about their immunization.
A group of people standing in front of a wall covered in multi-coloured Post-It notes 
There were many things I loved about this job. In fact, it would probably take me several blog posts to describe them all. Instead, here are the top three reasons I recommend the Canadian Red Cross for a co-op or work term position:

1. Getting to work in my own community with an amazing team

I was fortunate enough to get placed with the Canadian Red Cross in my home community. There wasn’t a single day I worked at the vaccine clinic where I didn’t see someone I already knew, including former classmates, teachers, and family friends.
This also meant that as I spoke with beneficiaries who were complete strangers to me, we often found connections. I loved having the opportunity to get to know the people in my own community, and in effect, making these connections helped many of them feel more comfortable about getting their vaccine.
The Canadian Red Cross encouraged us to focus on supporting beneficiaries, which allowed me to spend the time to really get to know the people who walked through the clinic doors.

Another highlight was getting to work with an amazing team of passionate individuals. From our slowest days to our busiest days at the clinic, I always knew I had a strong and supportive team to lean on, and they were a group of people I didn’t want to let down. My experience with the people I met at the Canadian Red Cross has influenced the type of work culture I will look for in my future career.

2. Having the opportunity to develop leadership skills

One of the great things about my position with the Canadian Red Cross was being given the opportunity to act as a leader. The position of “team lead” was rotated between members of the team each shift. Responsibilities included creating a schedule for the team each day, monitoring the number of appointments, and making phone calls.  

This gave every team member an opportunity to take on a leadership role and it was a great way to practice troubleshooting and team management. And support was always there if we needed help.

3. Making a difference while realizing my future career goals

Before I started working with the Canadian Red Cross, I’d spent eight months of online university studies during the pandemic. I pretty much never left my house. As someone who likes to help where I can, this was very challenging as so much going on in the world was out of my control.
Therefore, one of my favourite things about this co-op term was feeling like I was actually working towards putting the pandemic behind us. I am endlessly grateful that the Canadian Red Cross gave me the opportunity to do so, because even though a frontline healthcare position wasn’t something I ever imagined I could be good at, I had effective training and was supported on the job – both helped make the term a success.

It felt good knowing that my work was worthwhile, and that I could be a resource to people in my community during the vaccine effort.
As an English and Communications student, I never imagined working on the frontlines of a Red Cross COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic. Now, I am truly happy that I did, as I learned a great deal about myself, the type of work I enjoy, and the values I want to seek in a future career.
The Canadian Red Cross helped me confirm my passion for connecting with others. Whatever career path I follow in the future, I now know that I will enjoy it if it involves working with and supporting people in my community.
Interested in becoming part of the Canadian Red Cross team? Check out our available volunteer roles and work opportunities.
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