How to Make the Most Out of Your WFH Co-Op Experience

This past summer, I had the opportunity to work as a Business Intelligence Analyst intern for Bell. As an Electrical Engineering student with a strong inclination towards management roles, this seemed like a great opportunity for me to hone my data analytics skills and get a feel for what it’s like to work for a large corporation. Although I was looking forward to the experience of getting dressed up in my business casual attire and strutting down the streets of downtown Toronto to work at Bell’s shiny glass building, I was fortunate enough to be able to work from home despite the circumstances during the pandemic. As we enter another few months of unpredictability where summer co-op positions will most likely be remote, I thought I’d share some of the valuable lessons I learnt from my first remote coop experience and how to make the most out of yours!


People are always willing to help- you just have to make the effort to reach out.

The co-op leadership team organized quite a few Zoom networking events where we were able to listen to grads, execs and other people at various positions in the company to learn more about their day-to-day tasks, their experience at Bell and how they got to where they are today. It surprised me to see how enthusiastic everyone was to answer our questions and share their personal experiences with the interns by taking out the time from their busy schedules to prepare presentations for the networking sessions, and I was able to arrange coffee chats with quite a few people to ask my questions and get some advice from those that had been in my position before.

My biggest takeaway is to never be afraid to reach out whether it’s for help or advice, because most people in higher-up positions remember what it’s like to be in your shoes and are more than willing to offer you their two cents if it means that you can learn something valuable from their experiences. I highly recommend searching up people in the company that are in a position that you might be interested in pursuing in the future, and asking them to schedule a quick coffee chat with you in order to earn more about their journey and make new connections!



Get involved with the company- it leaves a good impression.

I quickly came to realize that the most important thing that employers are looking for is someone who is able to take initiative and cares about improving their work environment. Even though you are not physically in the office, it’s important to reach out to your managers if you feel that there is room for improvement at your (virtual) workplace. In fact, the leadership team at Bell always encouraged us to connect with them if we ever had any questions, concerns or suggestions on how to improve the internship program.

One thing my peers and I did was reach out to our manager after noticing the lack of diversity and inclusion training at Bell, especially during the time of the George Floyd incident and the rising conversations surrounding racism and microaggressions. If we could have paid time off during work to do mental health, mindfulness and Tableau training, then why not for Diversity and Inclusion? We discussed what we wanted to see, why it was necessary and possible implementation plans, and the response from the leadership team was prompt. They were able to organize a guided discussion with the cohort on various topics such as gender biases and racism in healthcare, educational institutes and the media, as well as a wiki where interns were able to share valuable books, movies, articles, podcasts and other resources to help educate one another on this issue.



It’s never too early to start working on your personal brand.

Your personal brand is the unique combination of experiences and skills that makes you who you are, and what sets you apart from the other candidates. This internship taught me the value in developing one early on your career since only a portion of the 50 interns would be given a return offer and it was important for me to prove that there was a reason for the company to hire me again.

My personal brand was that I have an advantage when it comes to more collaborative roles since having lived in different countries while growing up has helped me to understand and appreciate people from different backgrounds and perspectives. While I had decent technical capabilities, I also had very strong people-skills, which is extremely valuable to have. Identifying your personal brand early on can help you discover your core values, stand out from the crowd during job opportunities and allow you to set goals in order to succeed in your career.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to work as a Business Intelligence Analyst intern for Bell. As an Electrical Engineering student with a strong inclination towards management roles, this seemed like a great opportunity for me to hone my data analytics skills and get a feel for what it’s like to work for a large corporation. Although I was looking forward to the experience of getting dressed up in my business casual attire and strutting down the streets of downtown Toronto to work at Bell’s shiny glass building, I was fortunate enough to be able to work from home despite the circumstances during the pandemic. As we enter another few months of unpredictability where summer co-op positions will most likely be remote, I thought I’d share some of the valuable lessons I learnt from my first remote coop experience and how to make the most out of yours!



People are always willing to help- you just have to make the effort to reach out.

The co-op leadership team organized quite a few Zoom networking events where we were able to listen to grads, execs and other people at various positions in the company to learn more about their day-to-day tasks, their experience at Bell and how they got to where they are today. It surprised me to see how enthusiastic everyone was to answer our questions and share their personal experiences with the interns by taking out the time from their busy schedules to prepare presentations for the networking sessions, and I was able to arrange coffee chats with quite a few people to ask my questions and get some advice from those that had been in my position before.

My biggest takeaway is to never be afraid to reach out whether it’s for help or advice, because most people in higher-up positions remember what it’s like to be in your shoes and are more than willing to offer you their two cents if it means that you can learn something valuable from their experiences. I highly recommend searching up people in the company that are in a position that you might be interested in pursuing in the future, and asking them to schedule a quick coffee chat with you in order to earn more about their journey and make new connections!



Get involved with the company- it leaves a good impression.

I quickly came to realize that the most important thing that employers are looking for is someone who is able to take initiative and cares about improving their work environment. Even though you are not physically in the office, it’s important to reach out to your managers if you feel that there is room for improvement at your (virtual) workplace. In fact, the leadership team at Bell always encouraged us to connect with them if we ever had any questions, concerns or suggestions on how to improve the internship program.

One thing my peers and I did was reach out to our manager after noticing the lack of diversity and inclusion training at Bell, especially during the time of the George Floyd incident and the rising conversations surrounding racism and microaggressions. If we could have paid time off during work to do mental health, mindfulness and Tableau training, then why not for Diversity and Inclusion? We discussed what we wanted to see, why it was necessary and possible implementation plans, and the response from the leadership team was prompt. They were able to organize a guided discussion with the cohort on various topics such as gender biases and racism in healthcare, educational institutes and the media, as well as a wiki where interns were able to share valuable books, movies, articles, podcasts and other resources to help educate one another on this issue.



It’s never too early to start working on your personal brand.

Your personal brand is the unique combination of experiences and skills that makes you who you are, and what sets you apart from the other candidates. This internship taught me the value in developing one early on your career since only a portion of the 50 interns would be given a return offer and it was important for me to prove that there was a reason for the company to hire me again.

My personal brand was that I have an advantage when it comes to more collaborative roles since having lived in different countries while growing up has helped me to understand and appreciate people from different backgrounds and perspectives. While I had decent technical capabilities, I also had very strong people-skills, which is extremely valuable to have. Identifying your personal brand early on can help you discover your core values, stand out from the crowd during job opportunities and allow you to set goals in order to succeed in your career.



It’s possible to make meaningful connections over Zoom.

I’m probably in the minority when I say that I absolutely loved working from home- the lack of commute allowed me to have so much more free time for things outside of work. I loved not having to wake up super early just to get ready and attending Zoom meetings in my pyjamas was a blessing, but initially I was quite disappointed about having a virtual internship because it meant I wouldn’t be able to meet my peers and have the opportunity to make new friends. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it is in fact possible to form meaningful connections online!

My team members and I instantly bonded over the course of a 2-day case competition and we were virtually inseparable ever since- we started video calling over our lunch breaks and connected on social media platforms outside of work. Moreover, all the interns in the cohort made an extra effort to socialize with one another through Happy Hour game nights on Fridays and setting up weekly coffee chats with one another, and I actually think I was able to meet a lot more people virtually than I would’ve been able to otherwise. I am so grateful for the people that I was able to connect with this summer and the amazing conversations we were able to have, and I can’t wait to meet everyone in person.


I’m probably in the minority when I say that I absolutely loved working from home- the lack of commute allowed me to have so much more free time for things outside of work. I loved not having to wake up super early just to get ready and attending Zoom meetings in my pyjamas was a blessing, but initially I was quite disappointed about having a virtual internship because it meant I wouldn’t be able to meet my peers and have the opportunity to make new friends. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it is in fact possible to form meaningful connections online!

My team members and I instantly bonded over the course of a 2-day case competition and we were virtually inseparable ever since- we started video calling over our lunch breaks and connected on social media platforms outside of work. Moreover, all the interns in the cohort made an extra effort to socialize with one another through Happy Hour game nights on Fridays and setting up weekly coffee chats with one another, and I actually think I was able to meet a lot more people virtually than I would’ve been able to otherwise. I am so grateful for the people that I was able to connect with this summer and the amazing conversations we were able to have, and I can’t wait to meet everyone in person.





Written by Rija Asif