I had a lot of questions entering my first co-op placement. Would it be so dull and dreary that I’d dread waking up in the morning? Would it fill me with stress and anxiety every night? The possibilities of what I could be walking into were endless and maybe, just a little fabricated by my tendency to worry about pretty much everything.
Luckily, I was wrong. The working environment at Small Business BC was one of my favourite parts of my co-op experience and it’s what will make it the hardest to leave. Here’s why I think finding the right working environment should be a large consideration when you’re deciding where to work.
I could tell immediately from my interview at Small Business BC that this would be an environment that I would enjoy working in. I was surrounded by some of the kindest and most supportive colleagues that gave me the confidence to grow and do things out of my comfort zone like plan and host one of our monthly meetup events. I was a little nervous the first few weeks on the job, but I was included in every activity, outing and weekly staff meeting. It wasn’t long before I felt like I was part of the team. This allowed me to feel comfortable asking questions and clarifying things that would help me do my job better, but it also made going to work that much more pleasant.
I think everyone has had to deal with a manager that isn’t on the same page in terms of how you’d like a team to work. While I’ve had my fair share of difficult managers, my manager was not one of them. Her positive demeanour made it extremely easy to communicate and ask questions when necessary. It’s easy to feel like the onus is on you to complete every task and fix every problem without help from anyone else, but I’ve realized that sometimes I do need help and that’s okay. If there was a problem or I was unsure, I didn’t feel like it was something I needed to hide, especially if I knew I couldn’t fix it on my own.
There should be a reason you get up in the morning other than that you must, or you want to make money. Both extremely valid and probably part of the equation, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes you need another reason to get out the door. Working for a non-profit that helps entrepreneurs get on their feet and knowing that I was helping people do what they are most passionate about, made getting up early every morning feel extremely worth it. I’ve heard stories from people from all walks of life and it’s an amazing feeling to be able to watch them succeed. A connection to what you’re doing and the impact you are making goes a long way in having a great co-op experience.
To sum it all up, I’ve learned a lot from my co-op at Small Business BC but the most important thing I took away is that every job has its up and downs, and that there will always be challenges no matter where you end up, but having a working environment that is cheerful and supportive makes those challenges that much easier to overcome. So before taking a job, consider what aspects of the environment need to be there for you to stay happy and motivated. I guarantee you, it will make all the difference.