Volunteering has always played a role in Alieza Cyr's life. When the opportunity arose to take part in Co-operative Education with Volunteer Lethbridge, it was a no-brainer for Cyr. The Bachelor of Management (BMgt) student has even created a contest within the University of Lethbridge to help promote volunteering amongst her fellow students.

Have you taken part in co-operative education? If so, tell us about your experience.

I finished a four-month co-op this past summer and I'm in the middle of an eight-month co-op right now. It's been a great learning experience all around. I have worked at the Lethbridge School Division in the Human Resources department and I am currently doing a co-op with Volunteer Lethbridge. In both co-ops, I have been pushed to think about problems in new ways to find the best answers. I think the best thing about co-op is you get a chance to take what you are learning in school and apply it to the real world. You learn what works and what doesn't, and you can start applying what you learn in the classroom.

What Dhillon School of Business' experiential learning programs have you participated in?

I was part of the 20/21 Integrated Management Experience (IME) and I have also done some applied consulting classes. In both I have worked with actual businesses within the Lethbridge community, and had to do a majority of the work online. I really liked the team aspect of the job while taking part in IME, and how we had to work together in small groups to design and conduct projects for a local non-profit. I became the project manager for the Hope Mural that is now on the side of the Streets Alive building in downtown Lethbridge. While it was a lot of work, I'm proud of what was able to be accomplished in what was a very difficult year.

As for the applied consulting group, I was fortunate to make a good friend who is part of the Calgary campus. We worked to come up with a business plan for a business within the Lethbridge area. This experience showed me more about the hard skills needed to become a consultant. It was also a great opportunity to work with someone I may have otherwise never met.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time in the Dhillon School of Business?

Being flexible is a must. You can't come up with a plan and expect it to go accordingly, even if you do make contingencies. When I started my university program in 2019, I though I had it all laid out. I would do certain courses at certain times and be able to hit interesting milestones. However, as we all know, everything changed and all my plans had to change to fit a new environment. I don't think it was the worst thing that could have happened, I met and became close to people who I probably never would have met otherwise, and I got to try things that might not have been available in different circumstances.

What advice would you give to those who are about to begin their journey at the Dhillon School of Business?

Find your passion. So many people I have met didn't know what they wanted to do and stayed in their first major, dreading each course as it came. The University and all its courses make it easy to try different things, and if something piques your interest, talk to the professor of that class and see if there's a way to learn more about that subject. In my first semester I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but it wasn't until one of my professors talked about a topic that interested me, and I found out it was a possible career path.

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

One day I hope to run my own consulting firm that works on creating high performing teams.

We noticed your volunteer work, can you tell us why you have a desire to give back? Also, tell us more about your UVolunteer contest for students!

Currently I am working for Volunteer Lethbridge to help promote volunteering within the student body. Personally I have been volunteering for most of my life. Helping others makes a community better and there are so many new things a person can learn by volunteering.

As for the UVolunteer contest, this is something I am running for my co-op to help get more students interested in volunteering. It has been running since the middle of October and will end Dec. 5. The idea is to get students to do five hours of volunteering at one of Volunteer Lethbridge's member agencies. Students will submit their hours, and I will compile the hours and send them to the MyExperience office so they can be added to students' MyExperience transcripts. There are five prizes to be won, each worth $100 in gift cards. The goal is for students to realize that it is easy to give a couple hours each month and it can make a big difference in their university career.

For more information on the UVolunteer contest and to log your volunteer hours, visit MyExperience transcripts here.

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