I’m about to enter my fourth co-op term, giving me a year and four months' worth of design, communication, and event planning experience. Without a doubt, with the experience I’ve gained so far, I’m determined to reach my dream job after graduation. But I have to be honest, before finding my first co-op placement two years ago, I was out of touch with my career goals and set unrealistic expectations for myself. I had no plan or direction. Who knew what I was really doing…
In the beginning of my search, I was frustrated that the “ideal” job I had pictured in my head wasn’t available for me and that certain companies I wanted to work for were not looking to hire co-op students. I became very picky and rejected even looking at jobs based on the job title, company, and overall job description. If there was one thing I didn’t want to do on that job description, I didn’t apply.
After eight long months of not getting a single offer, I was tired of looking at jobs and felt very defeated. However, I decided to give myself one more term of searching, but this time, things had to be different; I needed to change the way I was thinking. I needed to be open to opportunities that would help me grow.
What does this mean for the first time co-op job seeker? It means:
You’re not always going to find the “perfect job” or the “perfect company” for you. Instead, seek jobs with aspects that can help you build the skills you want to develop.
Remember, a co-op job is an experience not a permanent placement. So, learn as much as you can and take your newly developed skills to your next job and continue growing.
Before saying “no” to a company prior to reading the job description, do your research and find out more about them. You’ll never know if an employer is a good fit for you until you do your research.
Once I had an open mindset, I started to map out the skills I wanted to work on and began to find jobs that matched those skills – even if the jobs had aspects I didn’t really want to do. More important was getting to build on the skills I wanted to improve so that in the future, I can get to where I want to be.
Within sending the first job application with my new mentality, I finally received my first co-op job offer, which happened to be in Calgary, Alberta for Devon Energy – a natural oil and gas company. Previously, I did not give much thought to working in the oil and gas industry. Although, upon reading the job description, I knew that the Creative Communication position would allow me to gain skills that I needed to start me down my career path. Also, after researching the company, I felt a lot more comfortable submitting my application.
Since then, I’ve been alternating back and forth between school and a new co-op placement. After Devon Energy, I was the Marketing and Communications Assistant for the Heights Merchants Association, a not-for-profit organization in Burnaby, and today, I am currently at SAP Labs Vancouver as the Communication Specialist.
Over the course of my three co-op placements, I’ve been able to design advertisements, help organize a massive street festival, be part of the communication team for a large office renovation project, design communication material that has been shared with top leading professionals around the world, develop projects and work closely with Executive Directors and COOs, and have extensively grown my communication skills in networking. These are just some of the experiences and skills I’ve gained so far and I know I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t changed my attitude and adopted an open mind.