Four years into my Bachelor of Administration degree, I started wondering, as most students do, when is this ever going to end. Although having been privy to all the opportunities that the Beedie School of Business offered, I had never really taken full advantage of them. I felt as though I had hit a mid-life, educational crisis of sorts. Uncertain about the direction I wanted to go in (yes, this was after four years of studying), I was drawn in by the immense desire to complete my education as soon as possible, yet also fearing the unknown after graduating from university.
However, after changing my degree to a joint major in Business Sustainability, I realized I would be at SFU for much longer than I had originally planned, and thus, decided to make the most of it. After my life-changing, amazing and unforgettable experience studying abroad in Germany, I thought “what else have I been missing?” Lo and behold! The answer lied in doing a co-op.
Although I applied for the co-op program in my second year, it wasn’t until the Spring 2018 semester that I made the decision to actively seek a co-op position. I’m not going to sugar coat the job application process because it’s a tough gig. After endlessly editing and customizing resumes and cover letters for every job posting I applied to, I felt defeated. I had appeared for three interviews, none of which I heard back from. Until one day I opened my email to find a message from Teck Resources Ltd. regarding a Human Resource Assistant position. However, much to my dismay, the email informed me that “after reviewing the requirements of the position and careful consideration, my application was not selected to move forward”.
Although fortunate enough to have been shortlisted for a couple of interviews, the deadline to find a co-op position was fast approaching and I had yet to obtain a position. Fortuitously, following my job application rejection email, I received a random phone call - it was from Teck Resources! According to the voicemail, my information had been passed onto a different department that was interested in speaking with me about an alternative position with their Talent Management Team. After a very positive phone interview, I was given a second chance to have an in-person interview. There was still hope! After having been rejected numerous times, I went into the interview with little to no expectations of the outcome. Although I maintained a positive mindset and put in immense effort prior in preparing for the interview, I had also mentally prepared myself for the worst possible outcome. After meeting with the interviewer and having gone through, what I thought was, a successful interview, I reminded myself that even if it didn’t work out, it was another learning experience.
It goes without saying that I was overwhelmed with surprise when I received an email, from the same organization that had once rejected me, now offering me employment! I was thus hired as the Talent Management Assistant at Teck Resources Ltd.
I am now halfway through my co-op with Teck Resources and have nothing but positive things to report. Whether through basic administrative tasks or complex autonomous assignments, I have been given endless opportunities to grow professionally by participating in learning and development programs, developing project proposals and continuously developing my communication skills. Through the simple act of being in a professional setting, I am constantly learning from those around me and creating great professional relationships. I never truly understood the value of doing a co-op until now. I feel as though it has re-motivated me to complete my degree.
If there is anything I hope you gain from reading this article, it is the following:
Rejection isn’t always bad as we think and can often lead one to another opportunity or a learning experience that is better (although it may not seem like that initially). When one door closes, another one opens, and sometimes that other door is where you are meant to be.
Throughout your application process and even when you obtain your job position, don’t worry about the outcome. That is not to suggest that you give up, but yet, approach your experiences with a humbler mindset – worrying less about disappointment and rejection, and focusing more on gaining experience, whether good or bad, impactful or minute.
Regardless of hearing endless positive reviews from various students, I made a dedicated effort to go into the co-op process with low expectations, preparing myself for the reality that I may not obtain a job – at which point I would figure something else out. While some might call this mindset pessimistic, I believe that it helped me to be resilient and persistent in my job application efforts, not getting caught up in rejection or feelings of defeat, knowing that every setback was another learning experience. More importantly, I believe that this mindset made me more grateful about finally finding and experiencing a co-op.