First things first, this was by far my best co-op experience. I worked firsthand with stakeholders and had the opportunity to see my work actually being put to use. However, it was not an easy feat. When I accepted my one-year co-op position at Scentuals Natural & Organic Skin Care as their Marketing & Design Assistant, I did not know what to expect.
On my first day, I was introduced to my desk, a giant manual, and the alluring scent of lavender. I was tasked with many things – graphic design, social media, customer service and marketing. It was a lot of shoes to fill. Though much of the work was pre-planned for me and I just needed to execute things, it was still overwhelming because of the need to learn new procedures and adapt to a new environment, as happens with most new experiences. There was no time to waste and I had to adapt quickly because I was required to work directly with my boss (who is an incredible woman) for the first three months.
So, to overcome my work term hurdles, I did a few things that I will share with you:
1. When You Leave Work, Leave Your Work Behind. It Will Still Be There.
You worked really hard at work already, so take your breaks. Let your mind rest. When you are off work, do whatever you do on your off-time. Plus, most ideas come when your brain isn’t occupied.
2. Take Your Lunch Break and Don’t Forget to Use the Bathroom
You’re busy at work. All of your deadlines are coming up. You feel like you shouldn’t take your breaks because time is ticking. It’s OK. But, you’re not going to be OK if you don’t feed yourself. So, take your lunch breaks and answer mother nature’s call.
3. If You Don’t Know Something or Need Help, Ask!
You may be given a lot of responsibilities. If you don’t know something, simply ask someone. Source out your coworkers, they’re your teammates and their successes are your successes. They will help you if you ask. And for everything else, there’s Google.
4. You’re Going to Make a Lot of Mistakes, but Always Remember to Brush It Off
I’ve made a lot of mistakes and it’s hard sometimes. But, that’s the best way to learn. When you make one, it’s OK to take some time to lick your wounds. Reflect on it, but always get back up. Then apply what you learned from your mistake to a similar situation next time. Remember, you did not learn to walk without falling.
5. Be Adaptable and Try to Think on your Feet
At times when tasks need to be done, and there’s no one to ask, you have to be creative and dig into your own repertoire of knowledge. One time, I needed to edit photos for the company’s website. I edited some and sent them to the Web Developer to post onto the online portal. They didn’t show up right and were squished. I asked him what size the photos should be. He simply replied, ‘more rectangular’. I did not have the requisite expertise for web development, however, I had used the Web Inspector tool before. So, I opened that up and acquired the proper size ratio.
The point is, there may be times when it’s just you on your own, faced with a problem. You’re going to have to be creative in how you solve the issue independently. You have experience, and you are smart and resourceful. You got to your current position using these skills, and now you can get to the next. You are capable.
This experience highlights my first term with Scentuals Natural & Organic Skin Care. Since then, however, a Marketing & Communication Coordinator has also joined to help me with her expertise. Yes, it was an overwhelming experience, but it was worth it. I have learnt so much only in my first term and have so much more to learn in the next eight months. It is experiences like these that make working for a small business more valuable by letting us make a real impact in a business. It won’t be easy, but nothing ever happens if we don’t move ahead. So, whatever your next experience, embrace it and conquer it. Good luck and rock on.
Beyond the Blog
Interested in learning about opportunities like Jimmy's? Visit the SIAT Co-op homepage.