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SFU Co-op Student

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Hilda Martin Kasyanju Co-op Reflections

It can get scary to step into a new environment or an unfamiliar industry. Not only are there misconceptions brought forth by people every day, but there are misconceptions that you tell yourself as a reflex to protect yourself from the unknown. Here I share three myths that I have debunked that you may have heard about working in a high-tech industry with a communication major.

Myth 1 - Soft skills do not matter in the tech world

When it comes to working in the technology industry for the first time, with no strong technology experience, everyone worries about if they have enough technical skills. That is TOTALLY understandable: it's new territory for most people.

Fact: Soft skills matter... a lot. Maybe even more than technical know-how in today's day and age. Hiring managers, or future employers, want to hire people who are easy to work with. The team players, good communicators, can adhere to deadlines, and so on. Last time I checked, we, communication students, have those checked, EASY! In my case, a phone interview was done before even inviting the candidate into the office in order to gauge whether their personality is a good fit. It's a screening interview pretty much. Are you easygoing? Could you mesh well with the rest of the team? And like my co-op supervisor explained to me, "unlike a technical skill set, an outgoing personality and driven work ethic cannot be taught", which is what will make you so valuable! 

Myth 2 - You won’t fit in/belong in the tech world

I came in to my co-op with this mentality. With the overexcitement of working for a not-for-profit high tech company, the fear of not being able to fit in/belong hit hard. It is easy to get overwhelmed and feel like the underdog working in a field you are not versed in.

Fact: You will fit in. The reason you feel like you won't fit in is that you would not know most of the terminologies or abbreviations that they use, and they understand. Like with education, many employers don't care as much about how you look on paper as they do about what skills you can demonstrate to them. However, after this co-op experience, in an industry that has always fascinated but scared me, I realized that you would fit in and belong anywhere your skills are noticed and appreciated, which is exactly how I feel with my communications degree. 

Myth 3 - There will be other tech opportunities in my city, so there's no reason to move

I know. You must think this myth is true because of the relocating hassle you foresee. However, these are not hassles that will impact you in the long run. Organization and planning ahead of time is key to making relocating less of a chore than you think it is. 

Fact: There are opportunities everywhere, but you won't gain the experience you need anywhere. Out of town work opportunities are one of the fastest approaches and best options for people to grow their leadership skills and, as a bonus, build stronger global networks. Maria Montessori said, "only practical work and experience lead the young to maturity." The opportunity of relocating and experiencing new cultures and environments is also a part of the experience that, in my case, has definitely led me to maturity. The best part, learning to work in a different environment will make you even more valuable to future employers.

There are lots of misconceptions about what it's like to work in high-tech. I can say that working for the company I work for now, BCNET, has helped me debunk those myths and fears. I have learnt to appreciate my skills and look forward to working in many more industries, whether in or out of Vancouver. That said, don't knock an opportunity before you try it! Keep an open mind, so you don't miss an opportunity because of a misconception.

SFU Co-op Student
Connect with Hilda on Linkedin

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