A co-op with Suncor is one of the most common ways to start a successful career with Suncor Energy.
You may be thinking “easier said than done,” but students and new grads have found a wealth of opportunities in various fields with Suncor. It all comes down to how you play your cards – will you use your role to work in the background or stand out amongst your peers?
We had the chance to connect with four recent grads who have successfully turned their co-ops into careers with Suncor. Take a look at their stories and discover what it takes to find success with this company!
Dylan knew exactly what he needed in his career when he applied to Suncor. He was looking for a challenge.
“I get bored easily,” admitted Dylan. “So whatever I do has to be challenging, and it always has to be changing.”
He began his career at Suncor through their Emerging Leaders Scholarship Program – there were a few things about the program that immediately piqued his interest, even before he accepted the offer. He noticed the high level of engagement Suncor had with students, which was a different and welcome dynamic from the other employers visiting campus.
“I heard about them in my first year of university,” he says. “They took the time to hear what I had so say in that early stage. Suncor was very proactive in approaching me.”
Coupled with his interest in Suncor’s sustainability and environmental initiatives, Dylan was sold. While his program at McGill University didn’t offer a formal co-op component, he made the effort to secure his internship over the summer months, and ended up completing 2 co-op programs over his university career in Convenience Retailing and Supply and Optimization.
His two roles were very different. In Convenience Retailing, he worked with a team to ensure retail merchandise was properly distributed to their various gas station locations, while Supply and Optimization focused more on how they could streamline and improve their processes. In order to stand out in each role, Dylan says he had to devise different approaches.
In Convenience Retailing, he look the lead on several projects for product rollouts, such as transit fares for different cities, mobility devices (cell phones) and even piloting fresh fruit in the different locations. In Supply and Optimization, his role was more about improving what already existed, so he focused on analyzing and simplifying processes to make work for his team smoother and more efficient.
Dylan’s advice: How to improve existing processes
- Understand the existing system – ensure you know how information flows and how it works. Who uses the info? What’s important? How does it impact the result?
- Know the stakeholders – stakeholders refer to anyone the information affects (team members, clients, etc.). Understand how the information impacts them and how they use it.
- Proposal – bring an alternate solution to your manager before implementing anything. Have it laid out in a document so they can see your vision (even if it’s something small).
- Trial and error – know that not every plan will be successful the first time around. Every adjustment will need some tinkering, so pay attention to how the new system is working, and make changes until it’s efficient.
For his efforts, Dylan was offered a full-time role as a Wholesale Operations Analyst in their New Grad program on the last day of his second co-op term. It was a bit of a surprise for him, as he wasn’t required to go through the interview process like most co-ops and applicants. He was called into his team executive’s office, where he was told the exciting news in person.
“It’s always one of the executives who offers your the position,” he says. “It really shows how much they care about the New Grad program… and it means a lot for someone like me to be offered the job in person by someone on that level. It meant a lot.”
After graduating from the Finance program at the University of Lethbridge, Matthew found landed an accounting co-op role with Suncor. Even though he was slightly out of his element, he took this new opportunity in stride. His goal was to get a sense of the accounting industry, as well as the oil and gas industry.
He ended up returning for 3 co-op roles before landing his full-time role in Finance Projects. Matthew says he loved that they gave co-ops the opportunity to step up and take on real responsibilities.
“This is a good opportunity to see how a big organization works… it’s great to see all the little pieces and see how they work together to achieve success.”Matthew Regier, Suncor Energy
His very first role came at a busy time – Suncor was in the midst of a merger with Petro Canada, which meant there were a lot of tasks to take on.
“I was a Training Coordinator at the time,” says Matthew. “A typical day would involve following up with people, putting statistics into PowerPoints, speaking to people, and setting up different training sessions.”
There weren’t set deliverables, so Matthew really had to use his intuition to keep up with his team and get the job done. He went on to work in Financial Reporting and Performance Analysis in his later co-op programs.
“The culture was one of the main reasons I wanted to come back,” he says. “Everyone is willing to help you grow your knowledge and skills… if you can step up and show you can do a good job, it can open doors for you in the future.”
Matthew certainly did just that. At the end of each of his co-op terms, he was given an exceptional rating by his leader, as well as a review of all his accomplishments that he made during the program. On top of that, he interviewed for a full time position with the New Grad Coordinators at Suncor during his third co-op term. He was offered his full-time role in Finance Projects during his last semester at school.
“It was a huge weight off my shoulders,” says Matthew. “I knew when I got that call that I’d have a job to go back to when I graduate.”
“Treat your co-op like an interview or test cycle. If you do a good job, it can translate into a permanent role.”
Matthew Regier, Suncor Energy
Today, Matthew does a lot of project work for Suncor, where he’s been heavily involved with rolling out new programs to improve company processes. He says he really enjoys seeing a tangible result at the end of all his work.
“ My favourite thing right now is that I get to be involved in a project that affects all levels of this organization,” he says. “It’s been a unique opportunity that’s been really beneficial to me.”
Timeshri is all about taking something great and making it better. During her co-op program as a Customer Order Management Representative, she was responsible for working with her team to facilitate orders that would be delivered overseas.
Each day, her tasks consisted of working with customers to place the correct orders, contacting warehouses, dealing with the associated paperwork, and seeing the shipment through from beginning to end. After 2 months, Timeshri became really proficient at her job, and began looking for opportunities to learn from her fellow co-workers.
- Learn your role – Don’t try to make any changes before understanding how the existing processes work. Work hard to excel at your job.
- Improve the processes – If you see a gap or something that can be done better, propose a solution to your team leader.
- Seek knowledge – The more you know about the people you work with, both inside and outside your department, the more you’ll be able to contribute to your team!
“Before I applied here, I had heard from some peers that Suncor co-ops get lots of responsibilities and input with their leaders,” she says. “I wanted to work in a place where I’d have an impact.”
During her spare time, Timeshri would shadow her co-workers, and eventually she asked her leaders if she could support them in their work when she completed her own tasks. She eventually took on more and more responsibility until she had taken over the orders for South America and parts of Europe.
Timeshri says that the most important thing was being able to identify the needs in the group and managing her own experiences. During her time in the co-op role, she designed an electronic filing system to make the process more smooth. It’s been 2 years, and she’s pleased to know that the team is still using her tracking system.
“I went to visit them and they said they’re still using it, so I was pretty happy about that,” she says.
Due to her positive impact on the team, Timeshri was granted an extension on her co-op program by 4 months, where she worked as a contractor. After her program, she was invited straight to the second round of interviews for the Suncor New Grad program. She was offered the position before she graduated that Spring, and came back to work in the fall.
Today, Timeshri works full-time as a Fraud Analyst. She analyzes transactions for out-of-place trends and develops processes to track the trends that are always changing. While it’s more analytical and behind-the-scenes than her co-op role, Timeshri is enjoying the change of pace and new challenges that come with the job.
“It’s interesting in a different way,” she says. “But no matter the role, it’s important to take any opportunity to show your skillset and show what you’ve done to the correct people.”
As a new grad, Amanda still wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to do in her career. She saw a lot of opportunities in front of her, but couldn’t quite picture where she fit in best. But she was excited for the opportunity to find out through Suncor’s co-op program.
“I like to say I have a bit of an engineer in me,” says Amanda. “I find the oil and gas industries fascinating… how we can build these large facilities and have multiple people working to produce a product.”
After making the move to Alberta, Amanda began her role as a Planning and Scheduling Coordinator. For the next 8 months, she worked on site at their main plant, where she was responsible for working with buyers and the business unit to ensure all the parts and materials necessary for their operations were available and delivered on time. It required a lot of attention to detail, as there were many parts to track, with deadlines to match.
But Amanda says the main thing that she did to stand out was taking initiative to ask for work. “Sometimes students are timid to ask for more when they’ve completed their work,” she says. “I was always asking and eager to lead… that’s what makes you stand out instead of just doing the work you’re being asked of.”
Her hard work paid off. During her co-op, Amanda heard about the new grad program at Suncor, and was able to get an interview during her co-op term with the new director. A few weeks later, she got her offer for the Supply Chain role before the even completed her co-op – 8 months before she graduated school.
“After my performance review, I was given a thank-you card with a gift from my Team Lead and Manager. I was surprised – as a co-op, you feel so small and insignificant, but it reassured me that I had a reason to be here, and that my contributions were making a difference.”Amanda Markovich, Suncor Energy
“They called me right at my desk,” says Amanda. “It was a shock, but I was excited. I did a jump up and down, but I also had a sense of relief because I was going back to school, but unlike my peers, I wouldn’t have to worry about studying and finding a job at the same time.”
Soon after, she found herself back with Suncor, launching an exciting career with their team once again. Her advice to students and new grads is that it’s never too early to apply – after all, her risk paid off!
“I wasn’t super serious when I applied, but not I’m glad I took the step while I still had the opportunity,” says Amanda. “Even if they don’t have the space, they might ask you to come back for the next round of hirings. For me, it resulted in a career!”