I’m about halfway through an 8-month co-op, and man do I love working 9 to 5 (I actually work from 9 to 4:30, but Dolly didn’t write a song about that workday). A Monday to Friday set up isn’t for everyone, however, and it takes time to adjust from student life to ~pseudo adulthood~ while keeping stress in check. Hopefully my insider knowledge will help you make the most of it:
Go. To. Bed.
The hardest adjustment when making the switch from full-time student to full-time worker is your sleep schedule, so the most important advice I could give you is to go to bed early and sleep as much as possible. I don’t care if you pulled all-nighters for school, or partied on a Tuesday night and still made it through your midterm Wednesday; I can guarantee that you won’t be making it through an 8 hour day on just a few hours of sleep.
Pack Lunch Like You’re in Grade School
Do you remember PB and J sandwiches? Celery sticks with peanut butter? Get nostalgic and bring those staples back into your life ASAP. You may feel like your rolling in dough from working full time, but that won’t be the case when you buy lunch at every occasion. Eating out adds up quickly, and you won’t notice how much you lose when you’re spending in such tiny increments. For me, the big one was tea: I drink upwards of three cups throughout the day, so bringing my tea bags and using the kettle at work saves me major $$$.
Actually Take Your Lunch Break
There will inevitably be days where you munch down on a sad, sad bagel while simultaneously typing up your report for tomorrow, but don’t make that day every day. You’d be surprised how much you can do with a lunch break: a small walk, errand run, or workout will help you feel like a real person when you are swamped at work.
Plan out Your Weekends
Before starting my co-op, I couldn’t fathom not having to work on the weekends. Whether or not you’ve always worked on the weekends like me, everyone can appreciate a newfound sense of relaxation knowing that there’s no test or assignment eating up your free time on Sundays. After a few weeks of slothing about your house in your pyjamas every Saturday and Sunday, I greatly recommend taking the time to plan small trips or outings on your weekends. Who knows when you’ll have two days off in a row once you’re back at school!
Take up a Hobby
All that free time is both a blessing and a curse, as it turns out. To keep from bingeing Netflix every night of the week, take up a new hobby, volunteer, or commit to something outside of work. Not only will it be fun, but it will also help you focus on yourself when work becomes stressful. If you need help looking for volunteer opportunities, take a meander through SFU Volunteer Services’ Newsletter.
Well, that’s all I’ve got. It’s only been four months after all. Just remember, co-op is not only a fantastic way to gain new skills, but it’s also a great time to try new things and figure out a life balance that works for you as an employee.
Beyond the Blog
- To learn more about Co-op opporturnities, visit the Co-op homepage.