I am a fifth year student about to go into my sixth year in a degree that most people finish in 4-5 years. Any normal person would have embraced the end of a long and strenuous journey at full speed. Instead I decided to sign up for an 8-month coop and postpone the inevitable beginning of my post-grad life. Am I a little tired of school yet? Yes, but I also have no regrets about my decision to postpone graduation. Making the decision to do another coop was not an easy one but after having almost completed my 8-month coop term, I would not choose differently if I did it all over again.
What’s the Rush?
The only real con to doing another coop term was that I would not be crossing the stage with my two best friends this summer. And although I am sad, I am kind of glad that I decided not to rush through the remainder of my degree. I think we get so caught up in classes and studying that sometimes students forget that life is happening right now. We are so eager to get our lives started that we forget we are still young and living our lives already. Ten years from now, I probably will not care that I did not graduate in five years. Graduation should not be a race and if you are finishing your degree in four or less years than you are probably not getting the full experience. I may be graduating after six years but at least I am taking my time and getting the most out of my SFU experience.
Co-op is the Perfect Chance to Experiment
One of the biggest cons for graduating early was that I had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated. Most people I knew already had plans for traveling, plans for grad school or had no plans at all. I am a planner and graduating without a plan terrified me. So, I thought about what I enjoyed doing and only applied to co-ops that really interested me. I found that also channeling my energy towards jobs that I genuinely wanted, really showed in my interview and applications. I also found that because this would be my last co-op, I was more eager to learn and get as much possible from my position. Throughout these past few months, I have learned a lot about what kind of tasks interest me, how to navigate work culture, and just how much my degree has prepared me for a career. Ultimately the career I want to have in the future is something I enjoy doing and does not feel like a chore to come to every day. Co-op has helped me explore what kind of careers I can see myself doing but also what I do not want to be doing.
Time to Think and Time to Learn
For my work term project last semester, I decided to do a career plan which turned out to be the best thing I could have chosen. It forced me to take the time to think about what I have done, what I was doing right now, where I was headed and where did I want to go. Sometimes it’s difficult to find time to think about the future when you have immediate deadlines piling up. Having almost a whole semester to work on a project was refreshing and allowed me to put a lot of thought and effort into it. I remember a coworker telling me about midwifery, intake specialists and other careers in health organizations. Having 8 months of time allowed me to explore all these possibilities that I had never considered before. It also helped that the end-result of my work term project was something practical that I could use to help me through my mid-degree crisis. The co-op program is truly amazing, and you really do get what you put into it.
In the beginning of my co-op term I remember being so focused on this need to quickly and efficiently finish every task I was given. I was so focused on getting things done that I forgot to have fun. After all this is only a student position and it is not the end of the world if I forget something or take extra time on a new project. It was not until my supervisor sat me down and told me “Aleisha you are an amazing student and your work is always high quality. But I want you to make your new goal to talk to more people in the office. I know you are shy, but I really want you to have fun here.” Being an awkward person, this was a big challenge for me, but I am glad that I decided to slow down and embrace the work culture of my small office. Now I share cheezies with my cubicle neighbor as we poke fun at my coworker’s strange love for eating lemons. I have bonded over my passion for volunteering with another and found my go-to discussion buddy for Game of Thrones theories. At the end of this work term, it’s the memories that are going to always be with me.
While graduating earlier has its pros, doing another final co-op before I graduated just outweighed those. University is too short already to be rushing through it. It was also nice to stop and take advantage of my time off to remember why I chose my degree and decide to go to university. Taking time away from SFU also makes coming back feel so bittersweet. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder. I would be lying if I said all this time apart from SFU, has not made me miss classes even a bit. During these past 8 months, I have gained a lot of valuable experiences and memories that have prepared me for bravely facing my next big adventure, life after SFU.
Beyond the Blog
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