When I first started seeking, like many of you, I imagined myself working for big, well-known companies. I often ignored job postings that I thought wouldn’t look glamorous enough on a resume. I would also refuse to apply for jobs where the pay wasn’t as great as I wanted it to be. I focused a lot on wage, the company name and its location, since I wanted to work downtown.
It wasn’t until I began to work at a startup company, Periphery Digital, a digital marketing and public relations company, that I realized the skills and experiences I was collecting would be what mattered most. A smaller company like mine can offer many opportunities that you might not find in a larger corporation.
Less People = More Responsibilities Per Person
Something that I noticed right away was that every single person in the company carried a great amount of weight. Start-up companies often have smaller teams so they allocate more responsibilities to each individual. I was hired by Periphery Digital as a Project Manager (PM), trained for two weeks, then started doing some basic PM tasks. As someone who had very limited experience other than retail, I was very fortunate to have gotten a position this advanced right from the start, especially in a new industry for me. As cliché as it sounds, it was a perfect sink-or-swim situation. I learned the fastest by “throwing myself in the deep end of the pool”. For example, I had to learn about not only the general structure of the industry, but also what the process and time frame of each real estate project looks like in order for me to properly schedule and manage each task. It was a huge learning curve, but I am sure I took on more responsibility faster than if I had been in an entry level job at a larger company.
Lots of Freedom
While I was training to become a PM, I took an interest in Community Management with an event the company was organizing called Chopstick Fest: Vancouver’s First Chinese Food Festival. My duties with Chopstick Fest were entirely different from the projects I had been managing with real estate clients. I would have never had this freedom of jumping into an entirely different department and managing multiple projects simultaneously if it weren’t for the start-up environment I was in. I was given a lot of freedom in what I wanted to learn and what projects or tasks I could take on throughout the duration of my co-op work term.
Something that thoroughly impressed me is the time everyone took to communicate with one another. I had the chance to ask questions, voice my concerns and challenge how things were done. This was not only allowed but encouraged. Beyond that, I also had one-on-one meetings with my supervisor every week to talk about feedback on my work while also getting a general projection of what my tasks were for the next week.
These are just my personal experiences and opinions from working at a start-up company. Keep in mind that finding a friendly, supportive work environment has a lot to do with the company itself, your co-workers and supervisors.
Sadly, as I am writing this blog post, it’s one of the last days of my co-op work term. My experience working at Periphery Digital was like nothing I ever imagined. I learned so much from everyone in the company – their friendliness and support definitely made me a better employee. I wish everyone the best on their co-op work terms and hope my perspective can help you out when you are seeking for your next co-op job.