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SFU Co-op Student

Cast members from Ned's Declassified Guide
Entertainment Weekly
A positive attitude and a strong work ethic outweigh any skills you aren’t brilliant at, especially since you can and will foster and strengthen your skillset during the Co-op.

I, Bakhtiar Yaqub, have decided to formally appoint myself as the designated Ned Bigby of Simon Fraser University. While I wish the Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide series had continued after the stars graduated from James K. Polk Middle School, we must cope with the loss of this Nickelodeon show and tackle university by ourselves. However, it won’t do you or I any good to dwell on this 2004 sitcom. 

I believe that after my first Co-op as a Marketing and Communications Intern, I can provide us with a life jacket in the form of four tips to help you excel in your Co-op journey. My transition from customer service-oriented jobs to working at a not-for-profit organization was like when Cookie rigged a net of water balloons over the doorway of Evelyn’s class: a shower of adrenaline and fear that quickly dried into confidence and victory.

Girl getting soaked by water balloons


Tip #1: Dress for Success, not for Recess! 

If you ever need to borrow obscure patterned pants or t-shirts straight out of a 90s magazine, I’m your guy! However, my Co-op organization’s dress code was business casual, and as you guessed, my closet was severely lacking in that department. Prior to my first shift, the only formal clothes I owned were the plaid pants I wore to prom. To solve this misfortune, I went to the nearest shopping centre and purchased the cheapest formal clothes from H&M, Winners and Walmart. I therefore invested in apparel that my future self can wear to my 2nd and 3rd Co-op, and you can too!

Boy in suit cockily answering cell phone


Tip #2: Have Fun Dealing With Imposter Syndrome!

Your inner voice will always be either your biggest fan, or your biggest nightmare, and at your first Co-op, you need to trust that you’re good enough! Your supervisor and colleagues know you’re a novice at your position, so why stress over making mistakes or feeling out of place when you can use this to your advantage? Remember, we’re learning and growing in a low stakes environment for only a few months. Your call-to-action is to either embrace the feelings associated with imposter syndrome or scream in terror like Coconut Head!

Coconut Head screaming 

Tip #3: Stay Inspired, Don’t Get Fired! 

Remind yourself how full of pep you were when you got offered your first Co-op placement, and more importantly, how lucky you and I are to even work during a global pandemic. Be grateful for the temporary position, Zoom meetings, experience you’ll eventually condense into bullet points and every moment in-between. You can gain inspiration from inside the workplace through your co-workers and their extensive experience in a field you may want to pursue. Or you can pick up wacky hobbies to occupy time once your 8-hour shift is over. Don’t worry, the probability of a student actually being fired is like viewers finding out whether or not Ned and Moze got married. There is a 99.9% chance it won’t happen. But rather than imagining the future of these polar opposite characters, let’s spend our energy applying the knowledge we gained from school, recognizing transferable skills, building our own brand and acknowledging our weaknesses!

Ned and Moze looking horrified 

Tip #4: It’s Bliss if You Make the Most out of This!

Listen up folks, you must stay engaged, seek feedback, develop connections and search for opportunities for growth at this baby stage of your career! These often overlooked and forgotten factors hold the power to gain great references and maybe even an employment offer in the future. A positive attitude and a strong work ethic outweigh any skills you aren’t brilliant at, especially since you can and will foster and strengthen your skillset during the Co-op. Promise me that you won’t leave your workplace wishing you had learned more because you have the option to voice your willingness to do so! Lastly, believe in yourself as much as the comedic BFF trio believed Mr. Sweeney was an evil teacher out to destroy them.

Cookie, Ned, and Moze talking to teacher


Beyond the Blog

SFU Co-op Student
Connect with Bakhtiar on LinkedIn

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