Beyond the job description

Shae KhanShae Khan (’13 B.A.) was delivering a presentation about social media strategy in front of a CEO and staff leaders when it hit her.

“This wasn’t in the job description,” she said.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn alumna landed a co-op with SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers) during summer 2012. Khan figured she would get credit for the co-op, add experience to her resume and move on.

Not exactly.

SME asked Khan to extend her co-op for another semester. Then another.

“I was excited every time they did that,” said Khan, who majored in communications. “Each semester that I stayed, my work got more intense and more hands on. It progressed into this thing that I did not ever expect it to.”

One week before winter 2013 graduation, SME offered Khan a full-time position as a public relations representative. She accepted.

Khan chronicled her co-op experience with SME, as part of the Michigan Career Educator and Employer Alliance’s (MCEEA) Carol Quandt Student Essay Contest. Her essay caught the eye of many judges, resulting in a first-place finish and a $400 prize, a gas card and a free stay on Mackinac Island.

Khan accepted her award this summer at the 2013 MCEEA Annual Awards Banquet in Mackinac Island. There, Khan credited much of her success to Patti Martin, coordinator of experiential learning for the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters’ Co-Op Program.

“It was a huge challenge, life changing in fact,” Khan said. “If you have an opportunity while you’re in school to take advantage of the co-op program, why not take it? I don’t think I would be here today if it wasn’t for the co-op office.”

Khan is the second UM-Dearborn student to win the contest in consecutive years. Ashton Steele (’12 B.A.) took first-place honors in last year’s contest for an essay about her co-op with Initiative Science.

The Carol Quandt Student Essay Contest was instituted in 1992 to honor Quandt’s retirement from UM-Dearborn and her years of dedication to co-op.

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