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Co-operative Education

Oliver, next to a computer with work on his desk

Captain’s log (read in a deep super cool narrator voice), day 99 of my first work term. So here we are, a bearded up and battle-hardened Co-op student nearing the end of his first work term. What started three months ago feels like it was just yesterday. If you’re reading this, you’re most likely in the same shoes as I was, fresh out of an academic term and excited but anxious about your upcoming Communication Co-op placement. The question lingering in your head at this very moment is probably “what is this Co-op student rambling about, and can he just cut to the point?”. Well my dear reader, in this final entry of my Captain’s log, I will be going over my transformation from a bumbling Co-op student to a full-fledged Marketing Coordinator and give tips on how you too can navigate through your first work term.

Tip 1: Remember Where you are

Video game characters looking at a screen

Well, here we go, day zero. Today isn’t even your first day, it’s the day before your first day and you’re already bumping into obstacles. Even though you haven’t started the job, you’re already meticulously planning your commute to the office. “Should I drive?”, “What if the other Co-op students drive and there’s no parking?”, “Should I commute?”, “How early should I leave the house?” Finally, you decide to commute and show up early. Better early than late is what they always told you, right? Now that we’ve decided how we’re getting to work, here comes the real question. Do we wear a suit? The age-old question for people starting a new job, do we wear a suit or go in business casual? Airing on the side of caution, we go with a full-blown suit.

D-Day. Today is the first day, and somehow you manage to show up way too early. The second we walk up the stairs to the office, the first words that come to mind are “Toy Room.” You’ve let the fact that you’re working at a VR company slip your mind! Of course, you don’t wear a suit. It’s a company with nerf blasters and video games all over the office. Here comes the first lesson. Remember the type of company you’re working for and avoid dressing like a tool. Save yourself the embarrassment and just use your common sense. Although it’s good to come over prepared rather than under prepared, this issue could have easily been avoided if I used some of that precious common sense.

Tip 2: Build Rapport with Coworkers

A view of an amusement park

As simple as it may sound, build rapport with coworkers and supervisors. Although you are still technically in school, your coworkers and supervisors have nothing to do with school and in essence nothing to do with your grades. So, what does all this mean? Talk! As full-time employees, many of your coworker and supervisors have worked with this company for an extended period and may have tips and tricks as well as things to teach you as you go.

In my case, I was very lucky to have entered a job with three other Co-op students and been given two fantastic supervisors. Having met the other students during first day orientation, it was great to create a support network. If you don’t know something, the odds are that others don’t as well. Having a support group of other Co-op students is great especially in that first month. While you’re making connections with other coworkers and supervisors, it may be intimidating to ask certain question. Through your support network, you can ask express similar concerns and ask questions.

Tip 3: Don’t be Afraid to Say I Don’t Know

Person wearing a VR Headset

If you’re going to take anything away from this blog, this is it. This final tip goes hand in hand with the last. Don’t forget about your supervisors. Talk to them! At its core, your supervisors are there to help you through the Co-op process. In my case I was truly fortunate to have two caring supervisors by my side. Since the first day, my supervisors made it crystal clear that they had an open-door policy and were there for any questions or concerns I had. Knowing that my supervisors were real people made the communication process much easier. Even after the first few days, I felt open and able to express my true opinions and expertise. With all this in mind, remember that it is perfectly fine to say that you don’t know. As first time Co-op students, supervisors understand you’re fresh to the work force and may need help along the way. By stating that you don’t know how to do something upfront, you can skip the headache of back tracking and start the learning process from scratch with a guide along the way.

As cool and collected as I thought I sounded while writing this, there may have been some confusing parts. Fear not, I will recap the tips for you my dear reader.

  • Tip 1: Remember where you are and dress for the occasion. Although it is good to come well dressed, it is equally important to fit in with the work culture.
  • Tip 2: Build rapport with your coworkers and supervisors. Everyone started where you were once. Talk to your fellow coworkers and build a strong support network.
  • Tip 3: Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know. Your supervisors are people too and understand that you’re fresh to the work force. Faking it is overrated, be transparent with your supervisors and let them be your guides.

Well, space cadets, I hope these tips will help you on your first work term. This is your Captain signing off for the last time.

Co-operative Education

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