I always knew I was more of a hands-on learner than a reading and writing learner. As much as I enjoy reading, writing, and listening, the thought of rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty was just way more enticing and exciting.
My hopes of enriching my university experience were fulfilled when I joined the by the Co-op program. It gave me the opportunities to immerse myself in a professional setting and meet some amazing and inspiring people along the way.
For my first Co-op term as an Events Coordinator, I had the privilege of going through the term with 10 other Co-op students across different schools, and it felt like summer camp all over again. We shared our excitement and uncertainty of what this work term would bring, and it felt very much less intimidating as a fish fresh out of the water.
Fast forward two years later into my next (and final) Co-op term, I joined a global company as a Corporate Communication Co-op student - working remotely through a global pandemic with teams across the globe and being the only Co-op student in the organization at the time. Having no “buddies” to muddle through the bewilderment, I took matters into my own hands to ensure that my virtual work experience would kick butt - starting with being more self-aware about my work habits and goals for this work term and my future.
As my work term comes to an end, I can wholeheartedly say that I have grown professionally and personally from a timid university student to a budding young professional. From worrying about making mistakes, stressing about time and how I should act and dress in a professional setting, I have blossomed into a “newer” version of me that is inspired, confident and victorious. Here are my top three takeaways from my Co-op journey through the years.
One of my biggest fears when I first started applying for jobs in the Co-op program, was feeling inferior due to my lack of experiences in the field. How could I show that my experiences as a restaurant server could translate into a corporate communications role? That waiting tables could reflect a content writer and event planner?
The job description may be asking for experiences in an industry you have never worked in, but you would be surprised how much your soft skills can exemplify a positive trait. Any restaurant server that has dealt with a dinner rush can translate their patience and resilience through those hours as somebody who can stay cool under pressure. Just like the Iceberg Illusion, people don’t see what is underneath unless you show them! So, before you feel discouraged and turn away from that detailed job description, dive deep below the surface of your experiences and knowledge because YOU definitely have more to offer than what meets the eye.
Learning should always be at the forefront of your journey. One of the advantages of the Co-op program is the chance to explore, inquire and thrive as you begin your career development. This is the best time to try new things, step out of your comfort zone, and learn from experts in the field. As intimidating as it may be, having a positive mindset and openness to learning reflects down the road.
Any tasks and conversation can turn into an opportunity to learn – to learn more about your teammates, professionally and personally, to improve your understanding of the industry and of course to amplify your passion! Incremental improvements can result in exponential results so never underestimate the opportunity to learn.
Remember your list of New Year’s Resolutions? Instead of doing it only at the start of the year, take some time during the week or day to recap the highs and the lows. Being self-aware and reflective of myself and my decisions have made it easier to understand the WHY and WHATs in my life.
One of the heaviest baggage I carry with me is regret - the fear of not doing enough and missing the mark. But I’ve come to realized that the luggage will always be heavy unless you take the time to unpack the contents of it. When I stumble upon a hurdle or achieve my goals, I would set time aside for myself to unwind and unpack those emotions and thoughts. Yes, overthinkers – this might be your time to shine.
It can be as easy as writing down your feelings or speaking to a friend about the things you have overcome. So, take the time to reflect, compartmentalize and acknowledge how far you have come through your journey. Reflect on the good, the bad and even the mundane. Because there is always more to learn below the surface.
Overall, you are the protagonist in your story so don’t be afraid to take a chance on yourself! Be open-minded and make the best out of the experiences and people you meet along the way.
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