A proactive approach and co-op launches a career

Lina working at the City of Hamilton

Equipped with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, Lina Yonnadam turned to Mohawk College with a clear goal in mind. She wanted work experience that would complement her previous education. Lina found just that in the college’s Biotechnology (Health) program, which includes three embedded co-op work terms. The experience turned into an opportunity she took advantage of to immediately launch her career. 

“My career goal was to work in a laboratory,” says Lina. “I completed a one-year co-op with the City of Hamilton as a student. I gained a lot of experience, and it was this experience, along with
my education, that enabled me to secure a full-time position with the City of Hamilton after graduation.” 

Because Lina’s goal was well defined when she entered the program, she immediately understood the importance of ensuring she was proactive and enthusiastic about her co-op opportunities. Julie Farnand is the co-op specialist for Mohawk’s Biotechnology, Chemical and Environmental programs. In her role, Julie facilitates a six-week co-op prep course during which students learn about everything from writing cover letters and resumés to applying for jobs and successfully conducting interviews. She says Lina’s level of dedication is something she tries to instill in all her students.

“I always tell students to take their co-op course as seriously as all of their other courses because it can really set them up for success,” she says. “You have to apply yourself. Lina hit the nail on the head in that she was a go-getter, and she was very engaged in the co-op process from the beginning. With her level of engagement, I’m not surprised at all that she was hired by the City of Hamilton after she completed her co-op.”  

For her part, Lina says that having supportive faculty members like Julie helped her to be confident when applying for co-op jobs and to feel fully prepared for the interview process. Additionally, she says, Mohawk’s well-networked faculty members were a great source of information for understanding what today’s employers are seeking.

“Ask your professors about their experience in the biotechnology industry,” she says. “Many of them worked in the industry prior to becoming professors.”

While Lina was originally interested in pursuing a position in the pharmaceutical industry, she is very happy in her current position as a lab technician with the City, which she has held for two-and-a-half years. In addition to offering her a fulfilling career, she says the City’s friendly work environment is a plus.

Just as Julie knew that Lina’s hands-on approach would serve her well in launching her career, she says she also isn’t surprised that her former student is thriving at the City of Hamilton. Mohawk’s 50-year affiliation with the City has benefitted both the college’s students and the City’s various departments and organizations.

“The City of Hamilton is one of our biggest employers and also one of our longest-term employers,” she says. “We have 25 co-op programs, and the City hires students in almost every industry. Not only do they have amazing opportunities, but they are also supportive and engaging.”