March has been a busy month for CBU student, Rachael Murphy. Between her co-op placement with the United Way Cape Breton, her hours at the Highland Arts Theatre and her directed study at the Boardmore Theatre on top of a job and a social life, she is certainly looking forward to some downtime this April.
Rachael, who spent her childhood growing up between Cape Breton and England, returned to the Island in twelfth grade and will be graduating with her Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Certificate in Theatre Arts this May.
When a friend told Rachael she should apply for the student job opening at United Way, a network of non-profit organizations dedicated to improving communities across Canada, she was eager to hear more. Rachael learned that the opening was a co-op position and was thrilled to find out that she could use the credit toward her degree at CBU.
“Being able to gain work experience in an organization like United Way Cape Breton is so valuable,” says Rachael. “Getting out into the real world and seeing how various circumstances affect plans and ideas has helped me learn so much.”
As part of her co-op, Rachael helped to organize the 2019 United Way Gala, an annual event hosted to raise awareness and reduce child poverty in the community. Rachael was responsible for much of the sponsorship material for social media, along with supervising performers, arranging table toppers, slideshows and other details that made the night shine. She says getting the opportunity to take part in such a large and important event as a student has been an incredible experience.
“It was so rewarding,” says Rachael. “Knowing that everything I worked on was coming together to help create something beautiful made everything worth it.”
Rachael says this semester has made her confident about the future and compares co-op opportunities to a “trial run” of potential careers. She says whether you end up enjoying the field or not, you’ve gained crucial experience that will help you in future endeavors.
Though managing her time over the past month hasn’t been easy, Rachael says all of the hard work has been worth it. “Having a sense of community is so important for a balanced life,” says Rachael. “I find myself happier and healthier with a busy schedule of things I love.”
As she nears graduation, Rachael’s advice for incoming students is to ask for help on campus and get involved in something that piques your interest. Though she says her university journey has been “slow and steady,” now that it is coming to an end, Rachael is excited to see what the next chapter brings.
“In the past, I was definitely one for burying my head in the sand and pretending that life after graduation would never come,” says Rachael. “But I honestly feel so prepared now, I feel like I have a plan and all of my experiences this semester have been invaluable for my personal development.”