International co-op students hit the ground running amidst COVID-19

International co-op students hit the ground running amidst COVID-19

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Mina Atia
Halifax Chamber of Commerce
Intern, Communications Coordinator
Tianchu Tang, Dalhousie CRMBA co-op student

The Halifax Chamber of Commerce was thrilled to take part in Dalhousie’s Corporate Residency MBA Program this year and welcomed two international students as co-op program coordinators. When COVID-19 hit, the students, like the rest of the staff, had to adapt quickly.

Not only were they able to pivot and carry on their programs from home, but they were able to navigate the pandemic on their own far away from their families.

Tianchu Tang is enrolled in the Corporate Residency MBA program at Dalhousie University. She holds a bachelor degree from Nanjing Audit University in China, her home country, with a major in finance. Her co-op program with the Halifax Chamber started in January, and she was more than capable to take on what was asked of her.

“The Chamber is amazing; people here are always so nice, friendly and approachable. We work very closely as a small but mighty team,” says Tianchu. “Not to mention the wonderful events that the Chamber has hosted to serve our members.

“It is definitely a valuable experience for me to be a co-op student here.”

With previous experience as an exchange student in Morocco, Tianchu was able to develop multicultural awareness. She has been part of many associations including Enactus, Piano society and Currency Museum during her undergrad.

As a marketing and program coordinator at the Halifax Chamber, Tianchu is responsible for market research based on different projects and goals to support new plans. “I write and schedule social media posts for Member to Member offers, government funding programs and resource page.”

“I also contribute to the Chamber Connects program and run the routine report monthly.”

Pre-COVID-19, Tianchu was working on a marketing request for proposal (RFP) project, which was very exciting for her. It was her first time writing a real RFP and experiencing the entire process of developing a marketing campaign from beginning to end.

When the outbreak happened, it was put on hold. “I don’t know if I’ll still have the chance, but if I can resume the project that would be exciting again,” she says.

On top of her marketing experience, Tianchu is working on improving her professional skills, gaining practical work experience and learning even more about marketing, communication and public relations in the business community.

On her own time, Tianchu enjoys listening to classical music, watching movies and reading books. She used to enjoy the city and looks forward to enjoying it again soon.

“From my perspective, Halifax is a quiet and beautiful seaside town without many distractions,” says Tianchu. “People here are lovely and care about each other, which is very suitable for an international student.”

“It is undeniable that my life is different from usual, but I’m still trying to adapt to this new normal. And although we all have to keep social distancing and stay home most of the time, I still keep in touch with my friends through video chat.”

Supriya Srivastava is an international student from India. She’s enrolled in the Dalhousie Corporate Residency MBA and holds a technical undergraduate degree, with three-year work experience as a software engineer.

Last year, she booked her flight to Halifax only a day before she had planned to travel. Supriya had less than 24 hours to pack up and move from India to Canada.

“I find Halifax a peaceful place to live in. It has breath-taking views and good food,” she says. “This year was my first winter and it has made me fall in love with the city.”

She has brought her own skills and learning style to Canada to enhance her amazing experiences through her internship. Supriya joined the Halifax Chamber for her co-op program as a business project coordinator in January, just before the pandemic hit.

“I believe this is the best start for my career in Canada,” says Supriya. “The Chamber has been extremely helpful in building my confidence and polishing off my strengths. I have gained great knowledge of Canadian businesses and how they operate.”

“Other than learning about team and project management, I also have acquired skills and experience on how to handle difficult challenges like the current global pandemic.”

Supriya has worked on several projects she’s extremely proud of – for example collecting information on the recently launched guide on reopening businesses. She’s also been working on ensuring the Chamber actively and effectively services its members and their needs.

“I’ve been keeping track on social media and gaining information about various topics of concern for our members, which are being discussed during webinars,” says Supriya.

She has also created scenarios and flowcharts of all the funding programs in Halifax, providing a comprehensive overview and understanding of resources available. It helped sort the eligibility criteria for Chamber members to appropriately use government support during this difficult time.

A non-lover of chocolate, Supriya enjoys music and dancing. She tries to allow herself to loosen up and get out of her comfort zone. Since quarantine started, she’s been cooking for herself for the very first time in her life.

Supriya lives by a piece of advice given to her once by someone and that is to “chase for what you desire in life; there’s just one life with no time for any regrets.”

Supriya Srivastava, Dalhousie CRMBA co-op student

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