Skip to main content
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

empty
person in yellow sweater typing on laptop
Credit
Christin Hume on Unsplash
We are hired to our positions to learn and grow in low-stakes environments for only few months, so embrace the discomfort! As the saying goes, “the comfort zone is a beautiful place to be, but nothing ever grows there.”

Landing your first work term can be a lengthy and challenging task, but the work doesn’t stop when you get that offer letter. On the contrary, the real work starts on your first day. Navigating your first day, and even first term can be tricky. I am sharing four tips that helped me make the most of my first work term and helped me turn my 4-month placement into an 8-month one, so hopefully, you can too.

1. Dress for success

Start off your work term right by making a good impression. If you are unsure of the accepted dress code, always overdress instead of underdressing. It is time to ditch the 8:30am lecture sweatpants and sweatshirts and refresh your closet with some classic business wear and business casual pieces. Places I recommend for stylish workplace attire are H&M, Zara and Uniqlo. Dressing professionally can also make you feel more confident and motivated to work. 

Girl looking through clothes
Credit
Giphy
2. Embrace the Imposter Syndrome

During the majority of my first work term, and for a bit of my second term, I felt like I was hired by mistake. I felt like I didn’t really know what was going on, and that I didn’t have what it takes to be in the position I was in. This is called Impostor Syndrome. Many people feel that way. Even those who have been in the industry for years, have some degree of doubt inside them. However, you need to trust that you are good enough and more than qualified for the position you’re in. Your supervisor and colleagues know you’re still a novice at your position, so why stress over feeling out of place or not good enough? We are hired to our positions to learn and grow in low-stakes environments for only few months, so embrace the discomfort! As the saying goes, “the comfort zone is a beautiful place to be, but nothing ever grows there.”

little girl giving a thumbs up
Credit
Giphy
3. Be curious

During your Co-op term, imagine yourself as a sponge and soak up as many experiences and as much information as possible. If a colleague asks you to help them with researching or grunt work, then do it! Don’t feel that any task is beneath you, no matter how much experience you already have. Being open to tasks shows your humilty, ability to work within a team, and will let you test your skills. An opportunity not taken is an experience missed out. Whether it’s a small task or a major project, you never know what you can learn from something if you restrict yourself to your job description. Take any opportunity to soak up the knowledge of what the people around you can provide and maximize your time- your future self will thank you.

Man speaking on microphone
Credit
DP777 on Imgur
4. Stay Inspired, Keep Busy

It is inevitable that some days will just be slow days but don’t let that stop you from learning and achieving your goals. If you find that your work is done for the day, brush up on your skills by reading on industry trends, improving your skillset, or refreshing yourself on your company guidelines. For me, this includes re-designing projects that I worked on before to improve my design skills and refreshing my knowledge of our brand guidelines. No one will be telling you what to do every minute of your work day, so having a successful work term requires motivation and true desire to learn more about the field of work. Take the initiative to learn as much as possible during the short duration of your work term, and don’t take the slow days for granted because there is no shortage of projects and busy days ahead!

Cat typing on a keyboard in front of a computer
Credit
thlorenz on Github
SFU Student Undergraduate

Posts by Author

Me on the right next to a wall with the text "Communications and Marketing 2200"
Blog
So, You Finished Co-op: A Letter to Myself

As the C&M team has been (lovingly) reminding me, the sand in my hourglass is running out. And be it the sentimental self-reflector in me, I want nothing more than to sit down with my pre-Co-op-self and tell her about all of the spectacular things that are about to come her way.

Me on the right talking with one of my peers about the Burnaby Mountain gondola! I was enthusiastic about the project and engaging with the public.
Blog
What IS public relations? My Co-op experience with SFU Communications and Marketing

“What is public relations?" This question feels as vague as someone asking me what majoring in Communications studies leads to. I admit that I want to pursue a career path in this industry, but I have repeatedly asked myself this question throughout my academics. In my search to find out, my experience working as a Communications Assistant in SFU’s Communications and Marketing office has given me a clearer picture of public relations.

Three people behind a desk writing notes next to a Life Sciences BC billboard
Blog
What I Learned About Personal Values During My First Co-op Work Term

Your Co-op seeking term is full of opportunities. But without an idea of what you’re looking for, it can be overwhelming. As a newcomer to the communications field, I spent my first seeking term sifting through job after job like a deer in headlights, not knowing what to look for and where to look for it. Continue reading to learn how working with a company that shares my values enhanced my co-op experience.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Career Exploration, Seeking, Work Term Extension

author, courtney, smiling
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

Having completed my first work term for Health Canada as a Communications Officer Intern, I was eager to try something new, and the government was not where I believed that was going to happen. That is until I was offered a position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

Torren
Toren Barnes: Real Property Branch of Public Works and Government Services Canada

Innovation and government might not be two words that one usually expects to find in the same sentence. Toren's experience proves this idea wrong. Toren describes his experience working as a Co-op student for the Federal Government.

Elise and coworkers
Movin’ on Up: How to Accelerate Your Climb Up the Corporate Ladder | Part Two

Is career advancement on your mind? Whether you are a current student, a recent grad, or have been in the workforce for a couple of years, for many of us, improving our position never seems far from our minds. Read on to find out about how you can move up the corporate ladder as a student.

You Might Like These... Work Term Extension

team of people working together on a project from a birds eye view
5 Reasons To Accept a Co-op Work Term Extension

Communication Co-op student Kit Crowe gives you 5 good reasons why you should accept that co-op work term extension. 

Kory
Co-op in Toronto: My Experience Working for the Ontario Public Service

Are you a student who, like Kory, has struggled deciding what career path best suits you? Have you ever wondered what it was like to work in Toronto? Are you considering a career in public service? If you answered yes to any of these, read this post! 

Wen-Ting Fan
5 Things to Remember When Setting Learning Objectives as a Continuing Student

Congratulations on extending your work term! It's time for more Learning Objectives! Don't worry though, if you're having a hard time thinking up of some new ones, read these 5 tips to help you.