"If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to it."
In the changing labour market, there are increased opportunities for seeking your own Co-op placement through a Self-Directed Work Search. While Co-operative Education is an opportunity to test out possible career paths, there is an even greater possibility for you to maximize your experiences in Co-op by taking the initiative to search for your own placement. Self-Directed Work Searches are excellent opportunities to develop the life-long skills of finding your own 'dream job' and help you to develop skills that you can use in future job searches. Over the next few articles, I will explain how to pursue a Self-Directed Work Term by knowing yourself and your skills, tapping into the hidden job market and accessing the support offered through Co-op.
What is the First Step in Initiating a Self-Directed Work Search?
The first step is to make sure you know yourself: know your values and take into consideration where your interests lie. For example, if you enjoy playing team sports over working out by yourself in a gym then you may be more suited to looking into jobs that involve teamwork. Taking the time to really consider your likes and dislikes, your values (for example, profit vs. not-for-profit) and your areas of interest all help point to the different directions and career paths you could pursue. There are many great resources for those of you who are interested in self-discovery activities:
Set up an appointment with a Co-op/Career Advisor or a Co-op Coordinator is one way to help figure out which direction to go.
Take a career test through the Career Services office. Career Services offers the Jackson Vocational Interest Survey (JVIS), which helps with educational and career planning based on personal interests as well as the Typefocus survey which helps with educational and career planning based on personality type.
After you explore your values and interests and have your sights set on a particular kind of job, the next step is to take inventory of the skills you possess as well as the skills you would like to gain. If I wished to go into copywriting for an advertising company, I would research some general job descriptions of the skills needed for copywriting and see if any of my skills and past tasks completed could transfer into this type of job. Break down the tasks from your past work, volunteer and student experiences into foundational skills that could be general enough to apply to several different kinds of positions. For example, as a student, we learn organizational skills as we juggle classes, homework, and extra-curricular activities. For more on skills transfer refer back to Bridging Online I.
Take some time to contemplate thyself and stay tuned for next week's article which will look at tapping into the hidden job market and some networking strategies!
Beyond the Blog
- Check out the rest of Heather's invaluable advice, in the Self-Directed Co-op Guide.