People often consider their work colleagues a second family because of how much time they spend together.
For three Goodman School of Business co-op students, this notion took on a deeper meaning after spending nearly every waking moment with each other over the past four months while they worked and lived in the same house.
As part of their sales roles with Felton Brushes in Hamilton, students were required to live in a company-owned house across the street from the factory.
“It’s an entrepreneurial experience,” said Cassandra Plute, a fifth-year Brock University Business Administration student. “Working and living together helped us quickly learn the products, understand methods on how to sell and generally come up with ideas and learn best practices from each other.”
Under normal circumstances, the co-op students would have worked in an office environment within the factory. Restrictions related to COVID-19 meant not only living in the same house, but also working there.
Jonah Schenck, a third-year Business Administration International Double Degree student and Antonio Gallo, a fifth-year Business Administration student, set up their workstations in the front room, while Plute shared an office space in the dining area with a student from another university.
“It’s been interesting working from home,” said Schenck. “Everyone was willing to help each other out.”
The students reported directly to the company owner, who was also the house landlord. Although he visited the students often, his presence did not mean micromanagement.
“We each had a lot of responsibility and the authority to make our own decisions,” said Plute. “Many co-ops don’t give you that opportunity. I would change pricing or give discounts where I thought they would be worthy.”
The students would often hang out with each other in the evenings and weekends, throwing around a football or playing golf. Although work conversations were welcome most of the time to enhance the students’ entrepreneurial co-op experience, they found it was necessary to set boundaries between work time and personal time.
“I saw my desk when I walked into the kitchen to grab a snack, so it was easy to think about work,” said Schenck. “One weekend, we were all feeling stressed and wouldn’t stop talking about work. We had to agree to forget about it until the next workday, so we could enjoy our free time as roommates.”