During an interview, whenever I got that dreaded “Tell Us About Yourself” question, I talked about my education, my hobbies, and my experience. I never thought to talk about who I am, what makes me tick, what I want and how I plan to get it. There are many great things about co-op; the experience, building your portfolio, networking… But after these four months working as a Communications and Marketing Specialist at WorkBC Employment Services in Cloverdale, I have discovered so many things about myself that I could only have found out by participating in the Co-op program. Because of my co-op experience, when I get the “Tell Us About Yourself” question again, I will be ready.
Here are the five things I learned about myself during my work term that I never knew before:
1. I Need to be Challenged and Seek Challenges
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there"
– Will Rogers
Coming into my position, I had a long to do list. I had to: build a consistent social media campaign for the company Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn platforms, create marketing materials, develop the website for the Cloverdale and White Rock/South Surrey location, be a part of the Surrey WorkBC team to plan hiring fairs, and many other tasks. Even with all of these pending action items, it is very easy to put things off or wait around until things get approved, especially in the slower-paced non-profit sector. By challenging myself to work on a new initiative or really push the envelope with every task, I not only performed better, but I was more motivated over the course of the day. I realized that I need a challenge, and I cannot fully benefit from an experience if I’m not pushing myself.
2. I’m an Entrepreneur
“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live”
– Anne Sweeney, Gecko and Fly
I am not saying I need to start my own business or be the next business super-star, but I thrive on ideas, possibilities, and big thoughts. I am a dreamer, and I can think of a million things at a time. I get excited when I get into a conversation about the future, and love to plan out what my next move will be. This can be a challenging thing sometimes, because it can stop me from being in the moment and focusing on what is right in front of me. I can also put a lot of pressure on myself, and beat myself up if I’m not doing what I think will get me somewhere. I learned to work on this by keeping a journal, with my hopes, fears, aspirations, and plans all clearly laid out on paper. Knowing I have put away some “me” time helps me to be stay focused and appreciate the moments of the day.
3. Work Culture is Very Important to Me
“You can't be your best self until you find your tribe.”
– Misty Day, American Horror Story
My work term would not have been the same without the people I worked with. I would have still been able to accomplish what I did, but I would not have had half as much fun doing it. I worked with people who pushed me, believed in my abilities, and were all around amazing people. I love a team-oriented attitude, where we all have our strengths that are utilized. But at the end of the day, we are all in this together. I learned how important it is to appreciate the people I worked with and always know how important their time is, because maintaining a supportive and fun work culture takes commitment from everyone.
4. I Have to Love What I’m Doing
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it, keep looking. Don’t settle”
– Steve Jobs
There are many things I loved about what I was doing, and at the end of the day, I couldn’t help but feel happy and proud of myself, and I want to feel that way every day. What you do is essentially what is getting you up in the morning, and if you love what you do, you will be up and at ‘em. This may not happen at every moment, but when it does, take note, and recognize patterns of what you are liking and what you do not like as much, because you will not get it perfectly right on the first try and that is okay. I learned to not settle for anything but the best, and to also see the benefit in all the opportunities that were presented to me. While not everyone wants the same things, it is so important to work for what you want and not be afraid to ask for it, we only have this one life after all.
5. I’m One of a Kind
"Arrogance is trying to prove yourself, confidence is trying to improve yourself”
– Someone said this at my yoga class
This is the most important thing I learned. We all have a specific skillset that will add value to the right employer and it is just about finding your fit. But when it came down to it, it was really up to me to make things happen for myself, and to believe in who I am. This is what drove me to take initiative on projects I had not originally considered, like being the lead on the planning committee for our Non-Profit Career Fair. Little things matter too, like speaking up at meetings when I felt like I had something important to say. While I still have a lot to learn, I have so much to offer an employer, and it’s so exciting to know that my future is in my hands.
So, the next time you are asked to “tell me about yourself” at an interview, think beyond your education and hobbies and identify what makes you, you! Reflect on your experiences and identify what makes you tick, what are your plans, and how you are going to get there!