I would have never imagined doing a fifth co-op semester as part of my studies when I first began school, yet fortunately it has been the most interesting and most memorable experience that I have gained with SFU.
I started my first co-op placement as an ambassador and communication specialist for an applied science department where I acquired many valuable soft skills, including practice doing public presentations to large audiences. From this experience I had a rare opportunity to practice public speaking in front of various people of diverse ages, which has definitely been a good preliminary step for me to enjoy working in the campus community while having opportunities to travel to many cities in the Lower Mainland.
For my second co-op placement I really wanted to work in the industry where my studies could really shine, so I decided to work for a local software company located in downtown Vancouver. Since my work place was located in the heart of Vancouver, I had opportunity to take a night course at the SFU Vancouver campus, which has allowed me to gain both practical and theoretical learning at the same time while also applying knowledge inter-changeably. Working in one of the busiest place in Vancouver has been very pleasurable and interesting. During breaks I could walk and see many events that were happening downtown. Since this was my second placement, I had a clearer idea of whether I wanted to work or go to graduate school after I graduate from SFU. Moreover, I had a valuable opportunity to see what it is like to be a software engineer and also to work independently on a project by taking initiative and having the responsibility to lead the project with minimal supervision. Towards the end of my second placement I also had a strong desire to pursue a minor degree in mathematics, which would allow me to enhance my problem solving and logical thinking skills.
During my minor degree progress, I was not planning to do any more co-op terms, however I realized it would be worth the effort to be very busy in my last semester at SFU as I had only one course left to take. This co-op semester has been very interesting, I had a chance to visit a forum that was held in Korea for ten days which has allowed me to travel while working and studying. This has been the most pleasurable experience that any student could have wished for. I am very proud and fortunate that I took the opportunities given to me. I feel as though my last co-op placement has been like the final stage of the process, where my placement simulated real-world work more this time than any of my other co-op experiences. The past work experiences have been valuable stepping stones which have allowed me to be fully prepared to immerse myself into the IT industry.
Thinking back to how my journey started, and where it has taken me since, I know that choosing to join co-op was important to getting me to where I am now, but it was the decisions I made to take full advantage of the opportunities these co-op terms have provided that have created the most pleasurable and fulfilling experiences.
The Co-op program is definitely a good stepping stone for anyone looking for exposure to real working environments, with many opportunities to work in various fields. It also helps students learn at an earlier stage which career or education path to take while they are still at University.
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