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Beedie School of Business
SFU Co-op Student

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Crystal Fung at work
A few tips that I would like to share based on my co-op experience as a manager.

Five years ago, I would have never imagined that I would become a manager so early on in my life. Reflecting on the moments when I first began to think of searching for a part-time job, many of my high school buddies suggested working in retail stores, such as McDonald’s or Aritzia. I almost decided to send in my application but realized that it was not something I was interested in.

My passion for music was what influenced me to work at Showcase Academy, a subsidiary of Showcase Pianos. Unlike other typical teenagers, I continued working with the same organization from the time I was sixteen, until today. Two years ago, I was promoted to become an academy administrative assistant manager at Showcase Academy. However, as I was working part-time while being a full-time student, I was restricted to a limited amount of work responsibilities. Therefore, I decided to work there as a co-op student instead, with the expansion of a second location of the organization in Vancouver in order to further explore my interest in human resources.

Now reminiscent of these past seven months of my co-op experience, I realize this distinctive opportunity of working full-time as a manager has allowed me to develop confidence, professionalism, leadership skills, and enhance my management abilities. Here are a few tips that I would like to share based on my co-op experience as a manager:

It is Okay to Say “No” 

Everyone has a different threshold when it comes to stress and the number of tasks they can handle. Sometimes it is smart to notify your supervisor when you are feeling overwhelmed by work and would like some support and assistance. Management will not be aware of your problems unless you talk to them, especially if you are new to a work environment. I appreciate it when my colleagues ask me for help, and it makes it easier for me to do the same. There is a phrase that I was taught at work: “we are a team, so always remember that you are not alone”.

Ask Questions and Clarify 

As a manager and supervisor, I find it productive for junior employees to ask questions for clarification purposes prior to performing allocated tasks. This ensures that they fully understand what is being asked and are able to perform the tasks set out for them. This also allows supervisors to know that the employees are trying their best to perform by clarifying any confusion. For myself, I realize it is challenging to absorb information by simply listening to what others tell me, which is why I find it helpful to conduct a role-play exercise with junior employees. Also, when one asks questions during roleplay, they are able to retain information well.

Build a High Tolerance Level 

A common aspect among all industries and workplaces these days is stress and frustration among employees. It is normal to experience a “bad day” at work, just as long as you learn how to overcome it. Sometimes I encounter complicated situations where a demanding parent is yelling at me on the phone, asking me to fulfill their impossible request while I try to run around and complete other urgent tasks. At times like these, I often joke around with my colleagues by saying “I wish to have a clone of myself so that I can be more efficient.” While it can be challenging to deal with such problems and to move past them, it is always wise to leave work-related stress at work before going back home.

Further, being the youngest employer in the organization who has the face of a twelve-year-old, I have to be honest about the difficulty of being taken seriously at work. However, I have proved myself capable of being a manager throughout these years by demonstrating my hard work and strength to my employer while maintaining a level of sincerity and willingness to learn as I welcome everyone with a big smile on my face every day! 

SFU Co-op Student
Connect with Crystal on LinkedIn.

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