When you think about what kind of summer job a physics student might land, would marketing pop into your mind?
It certainly didn’t for UFV physics and math student Josh Friesen, but he recently wrapped up a work semester in the marketing department of Prospera Credit Union in Abbotsford. And he found that the analytical skills he’s learned in his physics and math classes were well suited to the job.
Friesen is working on a Bachelor of Science degree with double minors in physics and statistics, while concurrently completing UFV’s Data Analysis certificate. And he’s also pursuing the Cooperative Education option at UFV by completing a series of paid work terms at businesses and organizations.
His job at Prospera involved analyzing the credit union’s member databases to figure out ways to help develop current and potential members.
“We can analyze data to figure out which members fit the criteria for a particular campaign or product, and focus our efforts around that segment,” he notes.
One example is Prospera members who might benefit from converting to a fixed rate mortgage before rates rise.
And he contributed to the ongoing project of revamping the Prospera website, by conducting statistical analyses of the type of information that members and other site visitors are searching for.
“We wanted to figure out how best to serve them the content they are seeking.”
Friesen has learned a lot this summer, about marketing analytics, the credit union movement, and career possibilities in data analysis.
“I didn’t know this type of job existed before!”
He explains the connection between his studies and his work this way:
“Math and physics provide intriguing ways of expressing the reality of the world around us.
“I wanted to learn how we can explain phenomena through the laws of physics and mathematics. I find that math can get very theoretical, but you can use math as a tool that can be applied to physical systems. That’s a strength of physics, you can apply everything you learn immediately. This job is another setting to apply those tools and mindsets.”
Jeff Sawers, Manager of Business Insights for Prospera, has supervised several co-op students from several different UFV departments completing work terms at Prospera, and says they help his department take on projects that they might not otherwise be able to do.
“We have more ideas than people so our co-op students work on projects like predictive modelling that we would otherwise not have time for,” he notes. “We help them early on by building up their skill sets, but after just eight months things change and they are the leaders in analytics, helping us make more informed decisions about our members.”
Friesen was inspired to continue on in math and science after high school by “great teachers who encouraged me.”
The WJ Mouat Secondary grad has worked in the IT industry as well, where he found his math and physics skills very applicable. The economics courses he has taken at UFV have also served him well in his co-op position.
Co-operative Education at UFV combines academic studies with relevant work experience. Academic semesters alternate with work terms, giving you one, or even up to two years of relevant work experience. The UFV Arts, Professional Studies, and Science Co-op programs are nationally accredited by the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE), a recognized seal of quality.
Work terms are four, eight, or 12 months in duration. Co-op work term placements are not guaranteed, but are awarded on a competitive basis. The hiring decision is up to the employer.
Apply for Co-op before the last Monday of the month in September, January, and May every year. The UFV Career Centre encourages more science students to look into applying for the Cooperative Education option. Find out more here.