Skip to main content

Lauren Borean

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

empty
Students dressed in business wear in a meeting
So, You Got a Big Girl Job — How to Navigate the World of Adults
There is a saying that “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”. Take this opportunity as a co-op student to really soak up the knowledge the people around you can provide.

You know when you go to another country on vacation and everyone is speaking a different language? That’s the way it kind of feels walking into a new job and you are by far the youngest in the room. Everyone seems so educated, knowledgeable and probably old enough to be your parents. But don’t worry - I’ve (kind of) successfully learned how to navigate this intimidating world of adults and I’m here to share my awkward experiences to minimize yours.

Dress the Part

If you have no idea what you are doing, at least you can look like you do! Finding the perfect power outfit for the first day can give you that extra boost of confidence you may need. Ditch the skater shoes and baggy pants for a nice pair of dress pants and a blouse or collared shirt. Dressing professionally will make others and yourself feel more confident that you are in the right place.

Wearing my boss hat giphy
Credit
giphy.com

The Art of “Small Talk”

Ah, small talk - probably the most uncomfortable activity if you don’t have much experience doing it. Here are some tips:

  • Always introduce yourself to everyone who hasn’t met; don’t wait for them to approach you first. By going out of your way to introduce yourself to someone, it shows that you care about engaging in conversation with them and will leave a lasting impression.

  • Once you introduce yourself, try to remember their name and use it next time you see them. This is harder than it may seem – especially if you’re meeting a lot of people at once and you typically blackout after “Hi, my name is …”. One trick is to write down as many names as you can in a notebook or on your phone.

  • Some easy go-to conversation starters can be “how was your weekend” or “how was your evening”. You can never go wrong with a compliment as well.

Pro tip: Remember what your co-workers tell you and follow up with them. This shows that you were actually listening to what they were telling you - and it’s another good conversation starter.

simpsons so you like stuff giphy
Credit
giphy.com

Now that you started the conversation, try to relax! Don’t be afraid to contribute or crack a joke once in a while, which leads me to my next point…

Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions

Asking questions in your first week at a new job can sometimes feel scary. If anything, asking questions shows that you are engaged and want to fully grasp what you are being taught. Want to really engage? Whip out your notebook and write down some notes when being trained to really impress them. It not only shows you care about what you are learning but will also be useful.

keep those questions coming giphy
Credit
giphy.com

Make the Most of Your Time & Learn, Learn, Learn

Going back to my first point about feeling like everyone around you knows so much more than you – instead of dwelling on that, think of it as an opportunity for you to learn from the people around you. There is a saying that “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”. Take this opportunity as a co-op student to really soak up the knowledge the people around you can provide. Remember you are not restricted to your job description – if you hear about a project that interests you, ask your supervisor about it! There may be an opportunity for you to be involved in some way but you never know until you ask. Make the most of your time – your future self will thank you.

kevin hart you gone learn today giphy
Credit
giphy.com

About the Author

Lauren Borean

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
Keep in touch with Lauren via LinkedIn

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Career Exploration, Seeking, Work Term Extension

author, courtney, smiling
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

Having completed my first work term for Health Canada as a Communications Officer Intern, I was eager to try something new, and the government was not where I believed that was going to happen. That is until I was offered a position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

picture of glichelle pondering a though
Surviving Workplace Politics

Ever been peeved with workplace politics? Have you ever been a victim of office politics? One student shares her experiences from the workplace with tips on how to survive.

 

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.

 

Students dressed in business wear in a meeting
library_books
Blog
So, You Got a Big Girl Job — How to Navigate the World of Adults
Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Workplace Success, Workplace Transition, Workplace Wardrobe

You know when you go to another country on vacation and everyone is speaking a different language? That’s the way it kind of feels walking into a new job and you are by far the youngest in the room. Everyone seems so educated, knowledgeable and probably old enough to be your parents. But don’t worry - I’ve (kind of) successfully learned how to navigate this intimidating world of adults and I’m here to share my awkward experiences to minimize yours.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

Convocation Reflection Lead Image
Is Co-op Worth Delaying Your Graduation?

Practical experience isn't always gained in the classroom. Sure there are labs and projects, but nothing tops a real workplace environment. If you’re second guessing participating in co-op because of delaying your graduation, this post is for you! 

Landscape image of SFU Burnaby Campus and the Academic Quadrangle
What is It Like to Work at Your Own School?

A lot of Oliver's friends and classmates would talk about wanting to travel away and work in new and novel places. Oliver didn't feel the same way. In this blog post, he shares his reasoning for staying at SFU and why he always wanted to work where he studied.

Article Banner
SFU’s Big Secret: A Look into My Summer Working for the University

Find out more about my co-op job as a Research Assistant for SFU and discover how Lauren learned to navigate the data, politics and presentations to appreciate a side of the university students don’t normally get to experience.