Writing has always been squarely in my comfort zone, so when I was hired as a “Writer/Jr. Editor” for my first-ever Co-op job, I couldn’t have been more excited.
It wasn’t just what I’d been hired for that made me excited— it was who I’d been hired by: a trip-booking app start-up. Writing about travel was a departure from what I normally wrote about, but it was fun to explore different cities through research.
The one detour from my writing was our weekly meetings. At first, I didn’t get why I was there. It was a mixture of tech jargon and finance talk that mostly went over my head, and what I did understand didn’t matter much to me. Of course, I wanted the app to launch and be successful, but I figured I could stay in my own little corner and work independently. That lead me to my first lesson:
There’s no such thing as independence in a start-up, and for good reason. Over time, I came to understand that the company was an ecosystem. The articles I wrote functioned as inspiration for the video creator and were pushed on social media by marketing. We helped each other achieve the same goal. Everything we did, no matter if we were a writer, a developer, or the CEO himself, was for the app.
That didn’t mean I had to sacrifice my personal goals for Co-op. Although I was focused on the company’s success, I still strove to gain experience in different areas. I volunteered to help with a marketing project, and from there, my responsibilities grew.
About a month into my Co-op term, I was suddenly assigned to a new project for a few days. I wasn’t enthused about this change of pace, but it was more important and helpful work than the travel articles.
Later, all 18 employees devoted time out of our days to find bugs on the app and validate data. Neither task was in any of our job descriptions, but they were necessary projects, and it got us one step closer to launch.
Putting the app first made it much easier to be flexible with tasks and knowing that everyone else was focused on the app’s success also made it easier to seek opportunities to gain experience in different departments— no one was going to turn down a helping hand if they needed it.
I was writing a travel article when my supervisor messaged me. One impromptu Zoom call later, the article I was working on was scrapped, and so was my job. I still worked there for my Co-op term, of course, but there was no more need for travel articles. Instead, I was put to work on hotel descriptions.
Things shift all the time in the world of a start-up— it’s a fickle, changeable environment, where financing can get delayed by weeks and bugs can kill a launch the day it’s supposed to happen. Working outside of my job description early on made me adaptable, and that adaptability saved me when I was no longer writing articles and was instead juggling multiple tasks outside my comfort zone.
Though this experience may just be listed as “Writer/Jr. Editor” on my resume, I wound up wearing many different hats in my first Co-op semester. I came into it wanting to learn as much as I could. Somehow, I learned more than I thought I would, including about the changeable nature of start-ups. I’ll always be grateful for the flexible work environment that allowed me to gain experience in things I never dreamed of doing.