When I first started my co-op job search I read what seemed like hundreds of job descriptions every day, in the hopes of finding the one that I thought was just right for me. After a few weeks of searching, I realized that I was never going to be a perfect fit for any job, but if I showed I was willing to learn, anything was possible! At first I was scared to apply to any jobs that I wasn’t 100% qualified for because I was scared of the unknown. However, it wasn’t until my first interview that I realized that meeting every qualification wasn’t necessarily what the employer was looking for. That first interview went better than I could have expected and after much anticipation, I was offered my first co-op job!
Words could not describe how excited I was, until I learned that the design component of my job took up a large part of the tasks that I was required to complete. When I first started, I was able to get by using software like Microsoft Word and Power Point, but as time went on I knew I had far surpassed the things these programs could offer. It was time to learn how to use the software, which I had dreaded for the past month, Adobe Creative Suite.
The first step to learning this sometimes very confusing software was attending a workshop put on by my employer. It was an all day workshop and I came out of it feeling more confused than when I had entered. “I am doomed”, I thought to myself. What was I going to do now that everyone was expecting me to be a design expert? Well I did what most people do when they want to find out the answers to a question they have; I Googled it! I found videos, blogs and even helpful beginner’s guides that all taught me various ways to use the software that had nearly taken over my life.
After watching countless video tutorials and reading up on everything I could, it was time to practice. I started small by creating simple collages and posters until I built up enough confidence to try designing different types of promotional materials at work. I still remember the first time I presented to my supervisors what I had been working on. Although they had some constructive criticism, they were, for the most part, really impressed with how far I had come. Not only had I succeeded at impressing my supervisors, I had also learned a new skill that I could forever add to my resume, allowing me to apply to jobs that I otherwise never would have been able to.
Even if you are not as fortunate enough as I was to be provided with a design workshop, learning how to use Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and even Photoshop is not nearly as hard as everyone seems to think! In fact, as an SFU student you have access to all the entire Adobe Creative Suite, as well as subscriptions to websites designed to teach beginners the in’s and out’s of these design programs. Some helpful websites include: www.lynda.com, www.youtube.com and www.google.ca. Try taking it slow, maybe learning one or two new things a day, and before you know it, you’ll have a whole new skill set to add to your resume. Enhancing your competitiveness is the right step towards your first, second or even third co-op work term!