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SFU Co-op Student

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Natasha
There are many things that I will be taking away from this experience, but one of the most important is this: while working towards a career you are passionate for may not always be easy, it is always worth it. 

When people ask me whether I have enjoyed working at Options this summer, I can’t help but smile. I’ve spent my summer swimming, planning scavenger hunts, milking cows, playing capture the flag, making sandcastles and so much more. My coworkers have become my friends, and I’ve gained so much experience and developed so many skills; but most importantly, I have built relationships with my clients and I have learned just as much from them (if not more) than they have learned from me. As I near the end of my second co-op work term, I can’t help but look back on my summer in awe of how perfectly everything fell into place.

I spent my first co-op working as an administrative assistant at a non-profit organization in Vancouver. While it was an amazing experience that allowed me to gain many skills, it was nowhere near the type of job that I have always aspired to attain. I was so worried about getting a co-op position that I accepted the first job I was offered after only completing one interview. I vowed that this term, I would hold out for something that was more closely related to my field (social work), and while it wasn’t always easy… it was definitely worth it.

Natasha's pens and supplies at work

My interview for Options was a group interview, and it lasted 2.5 hours. Options is such a diverse organization, with so many departments, that there wasn’t even a specific position I was interviewing for. Options is a non-profit organization that is committed to supporting and empowering individuals and families, and promoting community health – I may not know exactly what I want to do, but I know I want to help people, which is what Options is dedicated to doing. At the close of the interview, I was instructed to select my top three choices of fourteen available summer positions. A month went by, and I was extremely discouraged because I had not heard back from Options, as I thought my interview had gone really well. I had been harassing my poor (yet fantastic!) co-op coordinator, asking every week whether she had heard anything back. Finally, I decided to take the reins and call Options myself.

After calling and leaving a message for the HR manager, I waited a couple days with no response. I called again, leaving a second message, without much luck. A week from leaving my initial message, I decided I would call one last time, and to my surprise Options’ HR manager answered the phone! My excitement was short lived as I was told that they were unable to offer me any positions for this summer. Due to it being the second to last week of May, I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to attain a co-op job this term – I began applying and interviewing for retail positions for the summer.

But then, at the start of the last week of May, I received a call from Options offering me not a co-op, but a six-week position that would go from the middle of July to the middle of August. While it still wasn’t what I wanted, I accepted. I attended the mandatory employee orientation and the first aid certification. As I was leaving after completing the first aid course, a man approached me and asked if he could speak to me about my future position. This is when he sat me down and told me that he enjoyed my enthusiasm and drive, and would like to offer me a full, thirteen week co-op placement. This man is now my program manager, and I have spent the past three months working as a child and youth care counsellor for the Special Services to Children and Their Families department of Options.

I went from having no job, to a six-week placement, to a full time co-op at Options in a matter of weeks. Looking back at how discouraged I was, I am so thankful that I decided to pursue this position as much as I did, because if I hadn’t there is no way that I would have developed a passion for working with children who have special needs. There are many things that I will be taking away from this experience, but one of the most important is this: while working towards a career you are passionate for may not always be easy, it is always worth it. 

SFU Co-op Student

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