Balancing the rigor of Co-op job searches with the credit load of a semester, is undoubtedly daunting for all students. However, it becomes seriously amplified if that semester also happens to be your second last semester at SFU. With the passing of months, the stress of securing a Co-op job become more acute. And with that, whatever residual of hope I had of being successful in my last semester started to dwindle dramatically.
But isn’t this all really my own doing? If I was considering Co-op all along, given my early acceptance into the program three years ago, why did I choose to delay seeking for Co-op work experience until the very end?
Well, if I had been so diligent with plans from day one at SFU, there would have been a lot of things I would be able to confidently check-off from the panoptic, and frankly speaking; romanticized, authentic undergraduate experience list. Rather, I accepted my faults and nonetheless chose to pursue that validating work-experience before my name vanished from the halls of the Academic Quadrangle. What reassured me of my choice was honest advice gained through personal interactions with individuals, which made it a point to pursue the same. I earnestly believe that, having done so, was probably the single best decision they ever made as a student.
The 30th of November brought a different kind of emotion, one that we become all too familiar with over time as students - desperation! At this point of my Co-op work search, there were a few things that I remember vividly. It didn’t hurt anymore to not hear back from companies, my Co-op advisor felt like the only individual rooting for me in the world, and I had to start learning things about Adobe InDesign, to give my resume that coveted edge everyone wants in communication or marketing. December rolled away even more disappointing than the previous month, bringing my total job application tally to over 150. The last words Liesl, my Co-op advisor, left with me before I had to leave for my home in Qatar for an emergency, was to “keep positive and keep applying. Although it’s may be painful to keep putting yourself out there, I believe good things are in store for you. I’ve seen people get hired even after a month into the start of a work term.” That was all the motivation and positive reinforcement I needed to push harder than I thought possible.
The rest as they say, is history. I got hired by a non-for-profit called Westcoast Family Centres as a Marketing and Communications Assistant, within two days of coming back to Vancouver. Today, I’m excited beyond belief with the prospect of learning new, industry-oriented skills and garnering invaluable experiences every day. Westcoast Family Centres Society is a multi-service non-profit organization that has dedicated over 30 years towards strength-based family support services throughout the Lower Mainland. Working directly with the Director of Development and Communications, I have had the opportunity to refine my skills in internal and external communication in a manner that closely relates to the agency’s mission. On a typical work day, you may find me busy working on email campaigns, producing external/internal communication collateral, or coming up with proposal to grow our client base for various services offered by Westcoast. Working on such projects have allowed me to hone my design abilities, copy writing skills, and marketing tech skills.
If you find yourself in a similar position, constantly doubting the value of co-op or maybe your ability to pursue it – I say to you, think it through.
Like many students, I was seeking work experience before graduation in hopes of validating my university education with some real-world experience. But leaving it so late meant I had to choose persistence over comfort. After many trials and tribulations, innumerable resume edits and job applications, my journey finally led me to that Co-op job.
So, even though the light might not seem bright at the end of the tunnel, I hope my story makes you see why it’s worth it to choose patience and persistence over surrender!
One more thing…
Make sure you leverage every resource you can add to your arsenal; the SFU Communication Co-op department, as well as Career and Volunteer Services are fantastic resources and accessible to all students seeking career advice or support.
Beyond the Blog
Nearing the end of your degree and still haven't applied for Co-op? Read Sasha's story of why she choose to delay graduating and do Co-op.
Stressed out from applying to Co-op? Jessica explains how applying for Co-op positions is like dating and gives some tips to seeking students with their interview.