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SFU Co-op Student

SFU Burnaby Campus
I really wanted to learn as quickly as possible so I can be an efficient and effective member of the team. Of course, this did not happen overnight (as much as I wished it did) and I had to accept that I am still learning and this takes time.

I was really surprised to learn that for the first week and a half or so, I was to be trained by the previous coordinator. Not only was this completely different from my other job, but I did not even expect such support.  At my previous job, much like most jobs, I would imagine, I was just trained on the spot on a need-be basis.  I suppose since this role requires me to manage things I had to be thoroughly trained.

It was great to have an opportunity to ask questions, and to be taken through the day to day operations. Though, my first official day was incredibly nerve-wracking!

Because of my training shifts, I was introduced to everyone in my area and I quickly got to know their names.  Training was really like having training wheels.  The previous coordinator was with me every day and was incredibly supportive which really helped ease my way into the role. Though as supportive as all the staff were, it was tough to say goodbye to the training wheels when I started my first official day without my predecessor.

Even though I felt like I had a sense of what I was doing, I was still very nervous.  It was about 20 hours worth of intense training, learning new rules, protocols and just a lot of information! My supervisors made the transition as painless as possible.  My direct supervisor made a particular effort to spend extra time with me to get me started and my co-workers all told me to ask them if I have any questions. What a friendly environment! I must say, it is very nice to be welcomed in such a fashion!

I did have some challenges though. On the first day, you’re still trying to figure out your job. I got to the point where I did not know what to do with my time! Once you get into your job, you realize there is plenty to do, but when you get started you barely know what tasks are expected of you. I managed to find things to do, re-reading the manual that was kindly provided for me and before long I was busy!  It’s important to make yourself busy, and to be productive with your time because there is always something you can do and your supervisor would like that too!

Another challenge I had was remembering names. I have learned a couple of new name strategies since my last co-op that has made learning the gazillion new names a little more manageable:

Look at the Staff Directory

In the department I am working in, there is a list of all the staff and their titles.  Because I am a visual person, this has served as a great way to learn names and to just become a little more familiar with names.

Repeat Their Names When You Meet Them

When I meet someone new, I find an excuse to repeat their names.  “Nice to meet you _____”, or if they have a unique name I might ask them to repeat it so I can repeat it back.  I have found that the act of saying a persons’ name out loud in front of them increases your odds of remembering their name.

Ask for Their Name Again

If you’re not sure of someone’s name and you’ve only met them once before, it’s completely OK to apologize and ask them for their name again. Beware!  Timing is crucial for this strategy. Trust me, it’s a lot easier to ask for someone’s name after knowing them for a day versus asking for their name after knowing them for a year.

I think my biggest challenge when I got started though, was to remind myself to be patient. There is a lot to learn at any new job, whether it be the company rules, protocol, or the job itself. I really wanted to learn as quickly as possible so I can be an efficient and effective member of the team.  Of course, this did not happen overnight (as much as I wished it did) and I had to accept that I am still learning and this takes time.

The first days are always overwhelming, but it gets better especially when you have supportive co-workers and supervisors!  Just be patient with yourself and before you know it you’ll be halfway through your Co-op term!

Beyond the Blog

SFU Co-op Student
Connect with Natalie on LinkedIn or Twitter Natalie is a Communications and English graduate with a love for writing and learning. In the midst of her first co-op workterm as a marketing assistant, where she learned many practical skills and life lessons that inspired her to write this blog series. She volunteered at SFU as an Orientation Leader, and a FCAT Mentor.

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