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Discomfort isn’t bad - it’s just stepping outside of your comfort zone. Moving beyond your comfort zone opens up exponential potential for growth and learning.

New employment opportunities can be exciting, stressful, and sometimes nerve-racking. After spending so much time in classrooms and reading textbooks, a new job can definitely be disorienting; suddenly, you’re faced with new responsibilities, trying to remember all the names of your coworkers, and a completely new environment and culture. 

In the fall of 2018, I had the opportunity to join a team of inspiring and caring women at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, working as their Fundraising and Communications Assistant. Over the course of 8 months, I was regularly faced with challenges, and learnt to embrace the feeling of discomfort. No matter the outcome, I was still growing and learning.

Here are a few tips and tricks to keep thriving in discomfort:

1. Ask Questions

This might be a given, but also something worth mentioning. Co-op is a wonderful opportunity for students to try something new, gain new skills, and obtain a better understanding of where they’d see themselves after graduating. Once separated from the student-teacher setting, it’s easy to forget that students are here to learn – this is something I used to remind myself regularly during my first few weeks. Asking questions will not only make your job easier, but it also demonstrates interest and initiative.

2. Don’t be Afraid of Feedback

Asking for feedback gives you the opportunity to touch base with your employer about successes and opportunities for growth. Sometimes feedback isn’t always going to be positive; however, it offers a clearer understanding of what is expected of you and how to be successful in achieving your tasks. Still unsure: refer to the point above and ask questions.

3. Jump at New Opportunities

Working as a Fundraising and Communications Assistant, most of my responsibilities required me to stay at my desk. So, when I was asked to represent the women’s centre by speaking at Hootsuite’s Head Office for International Women’s Day, I welcomed the change of scenery. This was my first public speaking event where I was the only representative from my organization, and my first time speaking to an audience of this magnitude. While I was hesitant at first, I also recognized that an opportunity like this one would be unlikely to present itself again during this co-op work term, not to mention the experience that I’d gain, would a similar opportunity arise later in my post-academic career.

4. Trust your Mentorship

After spending so many hours working alongside your supervisors, trust in your abilities and their support. They wouldn’t be assigning you with a task if they didn’t believe you were capable of achieving it. In addition, your supervisors hold a wealth of experience and knowledge: not only have they been around longer, but chances are, they have also been in your shoes. Everyone has a first day, and your supervisors might be able to shed light on how they overcame similar challenges.

Ultimately, challenges and feelings of discomfort offer opportunities to learn new skills, become more adaptable, and gain confidence in your abilities to succeed in unfamiliar territories.

SFU Student
Connect with Magali on LinkedIn & check out her adventures on her blog!

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