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SFU Co-op Student

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These ABC’s of workplace success will help you to be awesome during the initial stages of your co-op.

When trying to get hired for my work term, I hardly considered the prospect of actually working at the jobs I was applying for. I was more concerned with building professional resumes, writing engaging cover letters, and appearing impressive at interviews. But once I landed a position at a software company, I suddenly realized that I would need to perform in a strange, new environment – one that I knew nothing about. In a panic over bombing my work term, I frantically researched any and all articles regarding workplace success.

Although there was no shortage of tips articles, they often weren’t helpful for two reasons. One: the articles weren’t geared towards Co-op students who, because they won’t be with a company for long, are tasked with work in a way that is different from regular employees. And two: every workplace is unique, so it’s hard to know how to succeed in any new work environment until you experience it for yourself.

Being a student who has now experienced the nerve-racking first weeks of a Co-op work term, I’ve consolidated my experiences into my own article to provide you with some Co-op survival advice. Read on if you want to thrive and not suck during your first work term:

A – Ask Away

Let’s face it. It’s unlikely that you have ever had experience in a workplace like the one you’ll soon be working in, but that’s the beauty of Co-op. You get to safely experience potential careers and nobody thinks you’re a loser for not understanding everything. Nevertheless, your co-workers won’t be thrilled if you don’t make the effort to figure it out. Be proactive and ask questions! Chances are your co-workers who have had plenty of experience and are quite willing to flaunt their knowledge for you.

B – Be Brainy

Even though you’re taking some time off of school to pursue your options doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your education. In fact, your work term is giving you the opportunity to apply your academic knowledge in a practical setting, and this can put an innovative edge on your work! Use your knowledge right and you’ll be sure to impress your employers.

C – Comprehend the Company

One of the best ways to make yourself look good in front of your employer is to know the company you’re working for. You need to understand what they do, how long they’ve been doing it, and why they’re doing it. Furthermore, know your own role - read over that job description like it’s a holy manuscript before you start your job!

D – Don’t be Docile

It’s almost inevitable that you will learn a lot during your work term, but remember that ultimately you’re going to get what you give. You need to actively engage with your workplace at all times; don’t just assume work will come to you. If you find you have a lot of free time, start asking for bigger projects or inquire about what you can do for your coworkers. Employers don’t want to have to babysit you, and sending them a quick email that says “is there anything I can take off your plate” is a surefire way to get in their good books.

E – Enjoy the Experience

You already know that your first few weeks are going to be stressful, learning the ropes of a new environment always is, but don’t let that get in the way of enjoying your experience. The best way to not suck is simply to have fun. Participate in lots of team building, engage with the awesome people you’ll be working with, and immerse yourself in the company culture.

These ABC’s of workplace success will help you to be awesome during the initial stages of your co-op. The most important piece of advice you should bring with you is to be flexible. You never know what to expect until you’re in the midst of the experience, but as long as your excited to learn and ready for amazing new things, then you’ve already achieved greatness. Good luck!

SFU Co-op Student
Connect with Miranda on LinkedIn!
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Oct 23, 2014

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