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SFU Co-op Student

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Maggie and her colleague Jen posing in front of a television screen at their workplace
My advice to other co-op students is to not only take every opportunity your organization offers, but also make your own.

As I reflect on my co-op term as a Junior Regional Recruiter at Kal Tire, I can’t thank the organization enough for giving me the opportunity to develop my skills, both technical and personal, with them.

Looking back, one of my biggest initial challenges was learning how to navigate a remote team. Our team was made up of eleven different recruiters from Vancouver to Ontario. For that reason, it required a lot of effort to maintain a sense of community. I love meeting new people but found it difficult to build relationships with people who I hadn’t met in person before. However, I developed a great relationship with my direct supervisor immediately and found myself relying on her as my link to the rest of the team. Because of this, I felt a little isolated when she was not in the office.

I quickly realized I needed to step up my game. I started reaching out to people on the team, asking about their weekend plans, and sending motivational messages. Through this, I learned about my colleague’s venture into resin art, and became her first customer. I now have four of her incredible coasters sitting on my coffee table. I created an eight-week ‘Goodbye Inches Challenge’ in April to encourage healthy living and more intra-team interactions.  Perhaps the most important step I took was voicing my ideas during our weekly Skype call without being asked.

I took the opportunity to be involved in things I was passionate about. I explained to our manager at head office that I was very interested in putting my CSR knowledge to work, and she asked me to write up a report on CSR in Recruitment. In the process, I made great connections with our Head of Social Responsibility and Sustainability.

I thought the result of these efforts would be an increased understanding of my coworkers—I did not realize that I would end up sharing more of myself with them too! Everyone on a team needs to be committed to promoting cohesiveness and collaboration, and I’m now in a much stronger position to do that. I don’t think I would have gained the same experience if I had stayed solely focused on my own experience.

My advice to other co-op students is to not only take every opportunity your organization offers, but also make your own. Work hard, share your ideas, and put up your hand—even when it feels uncomfortable. You’ll build relationships with more people while making a meaningful contribution—even if your ideas aren’t used, both you and your organization will benefit from your increased confidence!

SFU Co-op Student

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