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SFU Co-op Student

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I felt like I was merely playing the part of “super-skilled intern number 2” and that everyone knew that I was acting, but because my acting was pretty good, they let me stick around

Not everyone can say that they’ve had their movie moment. Getting the girl right before she gets on that airplane, finding a winning (powerball) lottery ticket, and saving the day at the last second are events that mostly happen on screen. Weirdly and luckily enough, it happened to me, and it happened in the exact way my theatrical mind dreamt it would. Near the tail end of the summer co-op Lighting Round, I received an offer to work at Rogers Publishing as a Project Management Intern in their highly competitive M-School internship program. Not only was this my dream internship, but it was in Toronto (only a few hours distance from New York – the ULTIMATE dream), and required me to be there in exactly 5 days. Talk about drama! I knew that this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, so I accepted… then freaked out.

I was completely blindsided by the offer because I didn’t expect to land the position at all. So when I said yes, there were so many loose ends and important details that I had to figure out. I still had a part-time job, I hadn’t figured out accommodations, and I had no idea how to live alone, let alone know how to “adult.” Thankfully I had money saved up for a rainy day, a family friend in Toronto who could accommodate me until I found my own place, and my part-time job allowed me to take an immediate leave of absence. Things fell into place, though I was determined to make it there regardless.

Once I had my living arrangements sorted out, I was then overcome with worry over the job itself. The night before I started, I was restless; many thoughts and worries kept me up. What do I expect? What do I wear? How do I keep my clammy hands from being so darn clammy?! Since it was my first co-op job, I had nothing to compare it to and had no idea what to expect. I began thinking, what the heck did I get myself into? New city, no friends, no family, new job – too many changes too fast. My thoughts boiled down to wondering, is this worth it?

When facing new opportunities or risky endeavors, my main concern always ends up being whether this new job/role/commitment/etc. is “worth it.” To somehow calculate this worth I would create a pros/cons list, pester friends and mentors, and eventually lie in bed, have a mini existential breakdown, then imagine five different ways the particular situation could play out – only to conclude that there’s no surefire way of knowing. Now, I decide to not solely make decisions on the potential worth of something, and choose to also consider regret. Would I regret taking that position? Would I regret not ever knowing whether x/y/z would be worth it? Oof. Heavy questions, am I right?

The next morning, I was full of nerves and excitement. The worries from the night before were temporarily buried by another worry – that I was going to get caught. Once I walked through the doors of 1 Mount Pleasant Avenue, they would immediately realize that they made a huge mistake. “Who is this charlatan?” they would say! I felt like an undeserving fraud, faking her way into the “biz.” Being reminded that 11 of us were chosen from a pool of 600 applicants only made me feel more unworthy. My fellow interns were more experienced, had more to show for their skills than I did, and overall, had more impressive bullet-points on their resumes. I felt like I was merely playing the part of “super-skilled intern number 2” and that everyone knew that I was acting, but because my acting was pretty good, they let me stick around. However, despite my insecurities around landing a sought-after position, I knew that the Rogers M-School internship was special and that I needed to be there.

As I continued to “act” my way through the position, I didn’t feel like a typical intern as movies portrayed; instead I felt valued, needed and supported. As a Communication and Publishing student, it was so cool to be in the middle of an industry-wide revolution. First-hand, I witnessed how the changes in our consumer behavior and technology are affecting the publishing industry and how the industry is adapting to those changes. The program also included bi-weekly learning sessions hosted by a speaker from different departments in Rogers Publishing, such as the Editor-in-Chief of Sportsnet Magazine, the Art Director from Flare, to name-drop a few. Thankfully, there were organized and impromptu social outings that allowed the fellow interns to bond in a way that I needed. Being the only intern from the west coast, I went against Drake’s advice and welcomed new friends with open arms.

In my actual position, I also learned a lot merely from realizing what tasks I liked and didn’t like. The title Project Management Intern sounds very ambiguous and not relevant to communications; I didn’t know what it entailed really. I discovered that it requires intense time-management, attention to detail, strong communication, ability to assist multiple supervisors, and adaptability - all skills necessary to succeed in my field. I was so lucky to work with supervisors and colleagues who were all rooting for me. Each mistake was a chance to be better, and each success felt like a win for the team. In short, the program was hard, rewarding, and well-rounded.

Now that I’ve completed that position, I know that it was worth it and more importantly, I would have definitely regretted not taking it. Regardless of what x/y/z is, there’s always something to learn. It may be that you’ve found your calling in life or that you never ever want to enter that industry again. That’s the beauty of co-op, regardless of the job or position, whether it ends up being a nightmare or a dream, you come out of a work term a more experienced, self-aware and a little bit more grown-up you. I learned that I hate wearing pantsuits, I dislike what sitting all day has done to my posture, and that I want need a creative career. I also learned that I love the fast-paced city, I like working in a team, and I am motivated more by company culture and interest in my work than by money. As for “adulting…” I’m still working on it!

For those who’re lucky enough to be offered an awesome opportunity and can’t decide whether to take the risk, try to think about the grand scheme of things. Would you regret not taking that job halfway across the world? Would you regret not accepting the seemingly more challenging but rewarding position? Would you regret?

And in case you think this is a load of introspective rubbish and are still confused as to what to choose, don’t forget, you’re in co-op! It’s only 4-8 months in the scheme of a 30+year career! 

SFU Co-op Student
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Jan 28, 2016

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