A year ago, I was full of excitement as I started my first day of work as the Communication and Marketing Assistant for SFU International Co-op at Work Integrated Learning (WIL). The International Co-op program provides opportunities, guidance, and resources for students to gain international work experience. I was looking to apply some of the knowledge and skills I had for marketing, design, and writing. Originally, I only planned to complete one work term at SFU. However, at the end of my four months, I was given the opportunity for another four-month extension. Eventually accepting the extension offer, I must say it was one of the best choices I’ve made, here’s why:
1. You Can Learn More Skills in an Environment You’re Already Comfortable With
After working for four months at Work Integrated Learning, I had already adapted to the environment and work culture there. I had a good relationship with my supervisor who was flexible and encouraging and had met a lot of my co-op learning objectives from my first work term. After choosing to accept an extension, I was asked to come up with new learning objectives. I indicated that I wanted to improve my video editing, writing, and social media skills. I knew I would be able to achieve some of those more challenging objectives as I didn’t have to worry about adapting to the workplace.
2. You Can Take On Bigger Projects and Add to Your Portfolio
Extending my work term gave me a chance to take on bigger projects. One such project was developing the Country Profiles pages on the International Co-op website. The goal of this project was to organize the many different resources of videos, articles, and photos that highlight International Co-op experiences in the most popular countries amongst students. Through this project, we were able to discover which countries needed more resources developed and also helped encourage students to go on an International Co-op by making it easier for them to find information.
Aside from the Country Profiles project, the highlight of my second work term would have to be the many video interviews I did with SFU students returning from their International Co-op work terms. I interviewed students who worked in China, Spain, Nepal, Korea, and other countries, who shared their experiences working and living in these different places. One video that I worked on was an interview with Erik Bainbridge, a Political Science student who did all four of his co-op work terms in three different positions in China. For Erik’s interview, I put together an OLC article as well as included him in the Co-op China video on YouTube. From putting together the videos, my communication and video editing skills have definitely improved, which are assets to achieving a future career in marketing and design.
3. You Can Build Better Relationships With Your Co-Workers
Aside from the skills and experience, I had more time to develop my relationships with co-workers. Your overall job experience really does depend on the people you work with as my co-workers were one of the main reasons working at SFU was so exciting and memorable. Whenever we worked on our own projects, we would give each other constructive feedback, advice, and encouragement. Spending another term in my position allowed me to go to more work social events and have more meaningful conversations with others. The strong relationships I’ve developed broadened my knowledge and inspired me to become more confident towards my career goals of working in marketing and design.
Overall, I must say that I have grown a lot through my eight-month co-op work term with SFU International Co-op at WIL. Not only did I expand my portfolio, but also improved the skills I had and gained some new ones. In addition, I made valuable connections and friendships with my co-workers that I plan to maintain. Even though extending my work term caused me to fall a bit behind in my studies, I can now make deeper connections between my education and work experience and have more skills and knowledge to offer future employers. If you are considering a work term extension, or if the opportunity comes up, I really encourage you to accept it!