Skip to main content
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
Co-operative Education

Laptop on a desk next to a plant
Photo by Alesia Kazantceva on Unsplash

After accepting my first Co-op job offer, I was delighted and looking forward to my work term because I could finally put my knowledge into practice and work with professionals in the same field and learn from them.

But things may not always go as "planned." While working as the Communication Coordinator during my Co-op, I was a "one-man band" — I was the only communication person in my department; there were no experienced communicators to work closely with and learn from. I thought this situation would limit my room to learn, but surprisingly I gained valuable experiences and exercised skills that I didn't expect.

Problem Solving Skills

At the beginning of my Co-op work term, I asked questions to different people in the office when I faced problems. However, because everyone has different roles within the department, they could not provide the answers.

So, I started the journey of searching for and implementing solutions to find out which worked best by myself. When the same problem appears again, I know what to do. By constantly exercising my problem-solving skills, I can now come up with creative solutions to different issues.

Trevor from The Daily Show saying "problem solved"

Learning without an experienced person can be time-consuming, but in the process, I explored something new that inspired my curiosity and motivated me to further discovery.

I was told that I was going to do a website refresh project, which included changing the layout and updating the website's content. A small portion of the project required editing and writing HTML code, which I had absolutely no idea how to do. Because there were no other communicators to provide training, I spent time watching tutorial videos to learn the basics of HTML, practice, and use that knowledge on the project. 

I was amazed that I could do something related to HTML because it is something I never thought I could do since it looks challenging to learn.

Cat reading a book and flipping the pages
Communicating to Colleagues

People in my department have different roles. Since I work with them and I am the only communicator in my department, there will be times when I need to explain a concept or idea to them. Doing so exercises my communication skills.

There is a difference between explaining something to someone in the same field and someone who is not.

When I explain my process on the website project to my colleague, who does administrative work and doesn't have knowledge of communication work, I will use a way they would understand. For example, instead of saying, "on this page, I use a toggle to present the content to the viewer," I would say," on this page, I use a component that would hide the content, and when the viewer clicks on it, it will reveal the content." By doing so, my colleague, who doesn't know what a toggle is, will still be able to understand what I have done on the website.

It is definitely a unique Co-op work term experience without experts in the same field to work closely with. If you face the same situation in your Co-op work term, don't think you won't be able to max out your Co-op experience. See this situation from a different perspective, and you will find out that you are learning more than you think.

Co-operative Education

Posts by Author

Headshot of Janvi
How To Land Your First Co-op

Knowing what I wanted to specialize in allowed me to start making plans for my first Co-op term. In all honesty, getting your first Co-op term can be exciting and intimidating. However, with a little planning and effort, you can position yourself for success.

A pen over a paper with the Fraser Institute logo
Employer Feature: An Interview With The Fraser Institute's Senior Manager, Development Events

Meet Danielle Fleck, the Senior Manager of Development Events at Fraser Institute. In this quick Q&A, Danielle discusses the benefits of having an intern at the organization, the growth of the interns they hired and how the organization made the interns feel comfortable in their position.

Anik standing outside in front of trees
A Q&A with a MA Political Science Co-op Student

Meet Anik Ahmed, an SFU Master of Political Science Co-op student. In this quick Q&A, Anik shares a bit about his co-op experience. Keep on reading as Anik shares his co-op's workplace culture, his employer and how he got the unique experience of travelling to Victoria.

You Might Like These... During the Work Term, Professional Development, Workplace Success, Workplace Transition, Communication

Co-op coordinator wth student during site visit
Make the Most of Your Co-op Site Visits

Your Co-op Coordinator, supervisor, and you in the same room -- time for a site visit! Co-op site visits are a time for reflection on your work term including what could be improved and what has been great so far.

person with their head in a book
Responsibility and Success

One of the most memorable parts of my time in co-op was the collection of accidents, errors, mistakes, and mix-ups that happened in the course of working in the laboratory.


Picture of Katelyn smiling
SFU Home to Canada’s Top Co-op Student

SFU Biology and Biochemistry Co-op student Katelyn Mueller was awarded the 2008 National Co-op Student of the Year award from the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education during National Co-op Week, March 23rd - 27th, 2009.

You Might Like These... Major Decisions

Annelyse standing in front of a window
Interview with an Arts Co-op Student: How a Policy Intern Position Improves your Writing

Meet Annelyse Ross, a Political Science and Social Data Analytics Co-op student. In this quick Q&A, Annelyse shares about her co-op experience. Read about how she discusses how she determines if a position is a good fit for her, what she did in her Policy Intern position and even how she got to travel as part of her position.

A person on their computer at a work desk with a landline phone on the side
The Unteachable Skills

Beedie student, Alex Beechney, shares his experience in learning essential life skills such as decision-making, communication, and working under pressure during his Co-op work term at ACD Systems. 

a girl lying on top of her books because she's tired
It's Not About You

In the summer of 2008, Yat worked 40 hours a week while going to school with a full course load. Managing time was essential to getting things done, but everyone has struggles with time management. Read more to find out the lessons Yat learned while reading the book, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko