Siena Testa is a University of Victoria student who carried out an internship as a CENGN student.
She was recently awarded the Business Co-Op Student of the Year Award and wanted to speak about her experience at CENGN.
My name is Siena Testa and I am currently a third year Commerce student in the Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria. I decided to pursue a business degree because I am interested in the different aspects of the business world and I was drawn to Gustavson because of their admirable cooperative programs. I strongly believe that in addition to learning from classes and professors, one of the greatest ways to learn in this field is by working alongside experts. In addition to getting my Bachelor of Commerce degree, I want to someday return to university and get a master’s degree.
“I want to spend my career enjoying what I do, and while I’m still deciding what that career will be, my co-op experience at CENGN helped to guide me in the right direction.”
My Path To CENGN
I first came across CENGN while browsing through the different job postings on the University of Victoria’s job board. The position was for Human Resources Specialist Student and it caught my attention as HR was a field I was considering. I believed I was a perfect fit for the job and matched the qualifications that CENGN was looking for.
“When I first received a job offer for the position, I became unsure of myself and whether or not I should accept the position.”
While it was in a discipline in which I was interested, I would have to move across the country, and was completely unfamiliar with the Information Technology industry. I was so unfamiliar in fact, that networking was only a word I had heard used in a business setting. Despite not knowing whether this position would be the right fit for me, I decided to try something new and accepted the offer.
As time went by during my 4-month term, I became more and more thankful that I accepted the offer. I learned an incredible amount of new skills and practices during my placement. I had the opportunity to work with every department and get a glimpse into other disciplines I never thought would interest me, such as Project Management and Marketing.
The CENGN Work
At the beginning of the term, I was tasked with managing several components of the student program. CENGN recruits an average of 12 students per term and I received over 800 applications while I was there. It was my responsibility to screen every application and pass on qualified applicants to the correct hiring managers for interview decisions.
I had the opportunity to sit in on the interviews for every department, including the technical roles. That was a major learning opportunity for me. I learned techniques for interviewing the business roles, while also gaining experience in interviewing technical roles.
My Supervisor and Mentor, Nathalie
My supervisor, Nathalie Guthrie, took the time to mentor me and teach me all she could in the short time that I worked at CENGN.
Throughout the term, Nathalie gave me different projects to work on where I could expand my knowledge of HR and the different aspects it includes. When I came to Nathalie with an idea on how to expand the student program, she let me have the independence to execute my idea and guided me when I needed help.
“She left it in my hands and trusted me completely.”
Nathalie always made sure she answered my questions and provided personal examples when I asked about her previous experiences in Human Resources which was extremely valuable.
My CENGN Experience
My favourite part about working at CENGN was the independence of students. As a result of it being a smaller company, they rely heavily on their co-op students to contribute to the work that needs to be completed.
I was the only other person in my department (aside from Nathalie) so there was always plenty of work for me to do. This granted me the opportunity to learn constantly and face new challenges almost every day. I was given independence to complete the tasks I was allocated but was always given support when I needed it. Additionally, I got to do a touch of work in the Marketing and Finance departments as I was encouraged to accept new challenges in order to get the best overall learning experience.
In addition to all of these positive learning outcomes, I got to witness the direct impact of my work on the company, which was extremely rewarding.
At the end of the term, the students were asked what we enjoyed most about working at CENGN and we collectively agreed that it was the people. The CENGN team cultivates a culture of kindness, passion, and learning. It became quite clear during my time at CENGN that every single team member is passionate about their work and are always seeking chances to learn something new.
“The passion that these people exhibit is what I strive for in my career.”
How CENGN Has Helped My Career
While I am still uncertain of what I would like to do with my degree and in my career, working at CENGN has helped me pave the way in making that decision. I am seriously considering a career in Human Resources because of my time there.
This co-op exceeded my expectations beyond belief. Deciding to accept this offer was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I am so glad I did it. CENGN has set the bar very high for my next co-op, and I can only hope that it will provide me with even a fraction of the educational experience that CENGN did.
“Being mentored by Nathalie showed me my passion for people and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity she and CENGN gave me.”
My Recommendations for Future Students
The best advice I can give to future students is to demonstrate your willingness to learn from the CENGN team and from your mentors, because they have so much to offer you. Putting hard work and effort into your position will give you the best overall experience at CENGN.
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