When Jacob Stickel walked through the doors of his new co-op workplace, he knew it was crunch time.The third-year international business dual-degree student was being handed significant responsibilities at the PepsiCo Frito-Lay manufacturing plant in Cambridge, Ont. and he was determined to succeed.In addition to assisting with daily taste tests to examine the quality of potato chips made at the factory, the 20-year old Kitchener native made use of skills learned during his studies at Brock to oversee a shift of 15 to 20 employees.“I used the lessons from my human resources course to better interact with people, and to examine their motivations and personalities,” he said. “Some of the employees were 50 years older than me, so it was important that I knew how to get them to listen and how to effectively lead the team.”As the manufacturing resource manager for one of the plant’s three daily shifts, Stickel was charged with ensuring everything on the production line, which included two fryers, four kettles and two seasoning lines, ran smoothly during his shift. And the significance of the task was not lost on him.“The responsibility and accountability is beyond anything I would have expected,” he said. “When I was running the first shift, I was completely accountable for meeting our potato chip processing targets. They trusted me with so much, and it says a lot about their screening process when they are hiring co-op students.”While finding a role that allowed him to increase his work experience was key, Stickel had also hoped to secure a job near his hometown. He was thankful that Brock’s co-op job board helped to make that happen.“The job board is fantastic,” he said. “There are lots of really cool opportunities to make an impact, to test yourself and to apply what you learned in school.”Stickel was proud to take on the huge responsibilities that came with being named a manufacturing resource manager.“I felt like I was making an impact,” he said.That impact included harnessing his organizational skills to conduct a special project concerning food safety.To help make the plant more efficient and safe, Stickel helped the plant transition into having colour-coded processing zones by creating a tool audit that ensured tools were in the right place. He also helped to improve the company’s compliance with food safety standards.It was the reputation of Brock’s diverse co-op education options, which include co-op employment opportunities in 40 programs and the participation of 15 per cent of the University’s students, that helped Stickel make his post-secondary decision.“When I went to the Ontario Universities’ Fair in Toronto, the Brock booth featured a business program with a co-op and that was important to me,” he said.  “After reading more about the program, I decided to come here.”Stickel’s confidence in the program and its ability to impact his career development has remained strong ever since.“I was happy to apply my skills in the real world,” he said. “If I had worked a standard summer job, I would not have been doing such meaningful work that would advance my career.”The experience taught him about “taking risks to find out what works for you and those around you,” he said. “The four-month term gives you the ability to try new things. You meet new people and make connections. It’s all about capitalizing on those opportunities.”Now back at Brock for the Fall semester, Stickel brings with him a wealth of real-world experience and new networking contacts that he hopes will help to fast-track his career after graduation.He also brings with him new admiration for the work, such as sampling for quality control, that goes into each bag of the popular treats.“Initially, tasting the chips was fantastic,” he said. “But eventually you lose your taste for them and it just became another important part of the job.”