“How in the world will I be able to add value to this team?” This was my initial (and pessimistic) reaction upon hearing that I would be working with 9 other individuals in the Donor Relations & Events team at the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation.
Previously working for a very small company in my past co-op work term, I was both excited and nervous about the foreign scenario; excited to be working and interacting with more individuals on a daily basis, and nervous about not meeting expectations due to lack of experience in a formal office setting.
It didn’t help that the majority of what I was studying and practicing in a previous couple of semesters (social media marketing) was entirely out of the picture for my role. Besides merely fulfilling my standard responsibilities I wanted to add value to my existence on the team. I made sure to look for and capitalize on opportunities where I could add value. The following are some simple tips that can strengthen your role as an asset to the team.
Information Presentation: Make Things Easier for Your Supervisor
Due to my position, I frequently construct and deliver information through reports. Communicate with your supervisor to learn what it is they need to know from the document you need to develop. Oftentimes you will have more information than they will ever make use of. Make their job easier by streamlining so that you only present the essential data they will need for their task. It’s not often that a spreadsheet with 50 columns and over 400 entries would prove efficient. Get down to the facts and keep it neat and tidy.
Establish Relationships: Connect Needs With Skills
Take advantage of working in a larger team by socializing and getting to know your teammates and what they do. Let them know what skills you have to offer and how you can be of help for particular projects. Although my job description doesn’t entail copywriting or technical writing I was able to assist a colleague with developing a proposal for a new project by making it read more presentable. In return, they were able to assist me in a task that required software-dependent skills. The camaraderie and teamwork present has made this work term a very enjoyable experience.
Provide Feedback and Opinion: Inexperience Does Not Equal Ineptitude
Despite being a co-op student there has got to be valuable knowledge and information that one could share. If the situation arises, do not be afraid to voice your opinion or give an assessment based upon what you know about the subject. Your fresh perspective could be the very key your team needs to generate a better alternative or transform a good idea into a great one.
Do not simply fulfill the bare minimum and make the most out of your work term. Figure out what you can do to make your co-op experience a great one. You’re in control of how much you’re willing to learn and develop during this time period so take advantage of your opportunity!