My story is a little different than other co-op student stories. I had a long professional career already – I had been fortunate enough to get an entry level Logistics Coordinator position at a publishing company at the same time as I was accepted to SFU six years ago. This unique situation meant that there were many benefits to working full time and studying part time for five years but also many sacrifices. My company was very generous and allowed me to leave early so that I could take some courses that were not offered online but in general it meant that I had to give up on completing the Psychology minor I was so interested in because of my work responsibilities.
Getting more responsibilities and a great raise after a few months with the company was a big motivator for investing myself fully into this work experience and putting my course selection on the sidelines. However, through my volunteering experience I became very aware that some of my core personal values were not fulfilled by my work. I would like to recommend to everyone who is trying to figure out their dream career to listen to Sam Thiara as his public talks and private conversations on choosing your career based on your core values really helped me become very clear on what matters to me the most. My biggest value is the need to make a difference in the world and help others. As years went by, this need to feel like I was doing more for the community kept growing stronger and I started applying for part-time positions in non-profits, and at universities and colleges. While I had a resume full of work and volunteer experiences, invitations for interviews were rare.
Transitioning from my full time job to another full time job was my dream scenario. However, after a couple of years it was more than clear that this strategy was not working. My volunteer experiences did not make me qualified for the jobs I was interested in and that is when I saw co-op as a fantastic opportunity to start my career transition and try new things. I was super excited about all the amazing positions I found through the co-op program but I was also really scared as I was going to leave an established career for a position that could only last a few months. After working hard on overcoming this fear of uncertainty, I was ready to jump in last year when I finally accepted a position with Student Services at SFU.
Looking back, this was probably one of the hardest, most daring and best decisions of my life. It was a dream come true to work at SFU, and my co-op term was amazing! Even though I already had over five years of work experience, there was so much I learned during my co-op including writing and formatting professional business reports, managing Rebel Mouse software, and I even had the chance to work on the project management team for the newly launched Student Ambassador Program.
I became aware of so many things I could do and still want to do through this co-op experience and now I feel like nothing can stop me in pursuing my dreams and finding a career that reflects my values. I do not think I would have had this opportunity without entering the co-op program and I would strongly recommend it to everyone whether you already have some work experience or not. Maybe just do it before you spend five years in a full time job, as co-op can help you figure out your true passion a lot faster.
Beyond the Blog
For more information on SFU's Co-operative Education Program, visit: sfu.ca/coop