Jessica Mo Recipient of Science Co-op Award 2019
The annual Co-op Student of the Year award recognizes three students who display exceptional job and academic achievements, and contribute in a meaningful way to cooperative education and extracurricular activities at McMaster and in the community. Jessica was among the 383 students who were registered in co-op programs and completed 507 work terms with employers across North America in 2019.
Cooperative Education is an integrated approach to higher education that enables highly motivated students to alternate academic terms with paid, relevant work experience. Science co-op students complete a standard academic degree program, as well as 3 or 4 co-op work terms in jobs related to their studies.
Jessica, a student in the Chemical Biology co-op program, completed summer and fall co-op work terms with Gang Zheng, Canada Research Chair in Cancer Nanomedicine and a professor of Medical Biophysics with the University Health Network. Jessica will represent McMaster in a province-wide co-op student of the year competition.
“In less than eight months, Jessica has acquired skills that require the typical graduate student at least one to two years to master,” wrote Gang. “Given her impressive research abilities, and strong work ethic, she was given additional projects to work on. Again, Jessica rose to the challenge and was entrusted to work independently on difficult experiments with minimal supervision. Although she is still an undergraduate student, Jessica’s productivity, and quality of work, is on par with graduate students in my laboratory.”
AWARD-WINNING ADVICE FOR STUDENTS AND EMPLOYERS
What’s the most important lesson you learned through your co-op?
The most important lesson I learned during my co-op term was the importance of networking and building meaningful relationships with other young professionals. These relationships were critical for learning about my field of study, and the different career paths I can pursue with my undergraduate interests.
What was the best part of your co-op?
The best part of working at University Health Network was the environment; my lab was well organized and I was able to learn many hands-on experiments involving cancer research. I was also situated in a building with many different networking events, resources, and facilities, which allowed me to really utilize my full co-op experience.
What advice would you give to employers who are thinking of offering a co-op work term?
If you are an employer and are willing to mentor a student that is willing to learn, the benefits are tremendous. Not only can the student provide knowledge and skills that are fresh from their memory, but they have extensive learning capabilities that will flourish in such an encouraging working environment. I recommend all employers to consider hiring co-op students.
What advice would you give to students who are thinking about doing a co-op?
To students who are considering co-op education, I highly encourage it, because you are able to build valuable connections, develop new skills, and gain so much outside of didactic learning, which are all things that are easily transferable to opportunities beyond your undergraduate degree.