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I learned to accept that whether my ideas worked or not, what matters is that I know that I put my best foot forward.

Having self-confidence has consistently been a goal of mine to achieve. And for a long time, I would get scared at the thought of pursuing Co-op positions as I thought that it would surely make me feel less confident about myself. But little did I know, my experiences in Co-op have been one of the biggest factors in building my self-confidence.

In my Co-op term this summer, I went from being in a marketing team of 5 to a team of 1. I had to handle every aspect of marketing from social media to website design to email marketing to supporting PR and more. It has definitely been overwhelming and challenging. And with the added pressures of working remote, not knowing anything about the industry, and doing it all during a global pandemic, it sure was a tough start. But throughout the 3 months, I went through big changes internally. I have learned to trust myself and to take pride in my work. I have learned to take initiative and believe in my own ideas. And I learned to accept that whether my ideas worked or not, what matters is that I know that I put my best foot forward.

Here are 5 tips I learned in my Co-op term that can help you build your self-confidence:

1. Think About What You’ve Already Achieved

It’s easy to lose confidence if you believe you haven’t achieved anything. But guess what? You got the job - that is already an achievement itself! To help jumpstart my confidence at the beginning of my Co-op term this summer, I made a list of all the things I have accomplished from my academic work and past Co-op jobs: whether it was acing that one interview, completing that project, or even making a friend at work. And I suggest you do the same. Keep that list close by and add to it whenever you do something you’re proud of. On days when you’re low in confidence, pull out that list and use it to remind yourself of all the amazing things you’ve done.

2. Set Some Goals and Celebrate Every Time You Complete Them!

Set goals for your Co-op term and list out the steps you need to take to achieve them. They don’t have to be big goals; they can even be things like learning how to use a new software, writing your first blog, or creating your first Instagram story. Just aim for some small achievements that you can tick off a list to help you gain confidence in your ability to get stuff done. And also make sure you celebrate them! Congratulating yourself on ticking off even a few things on your list can collectively contribute to the way you see yourself and will help you build a positive attitude.

3. Embrace your Creativity

If you're like me, you see the world differently in your own creative lens; don't be ashamed of that! In fact, use it. Many employers value and often encourage creativity and using your own perspective to drive new and innovative ideas. And well, they hired you for it. Embrace it and find creative ways to incorporate a bit of yourself into your work.

4. Strategize Your Work Based on Your Strengths and Weaknesses

In any Co-op term, there is no doubt that at one point you may find yourself having a longer list of to-dos than usual. Take a breather and mentally reflect on your work. Knowing your strengths and weakness will contribute to your confidence and awareness of skills. Recognize what you’re good at and how you can build on it. Use your weaknesses to help you motivate yourself to improve in those areas. What also helps on a day-to-day basis is recognizing what you deem are the most challenging tasks and the most enjoyable tasks. You can schedule your day so that you take on the most challenging tasks first and reward yourself at the end of the day with the tasks you enjoy doing the most.

5. Be Your Own Cheerleader

Being kind to yourself is probably the most important aspect of gaining self-confidence. You’re never going to feel confident if you continue to fill your mind with negative commentary. Think about your self-talk and how it is affecting your confidence and your work habits. Treat yourself like you would with your best friend or co-worker and cheer yourself on! Believing in yourself long enough will surely help you get the job done and build your self-confidence.

SFU Student Undergraduate
Co-operative Education

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