As a psychology major, working as a Campaign Associate for a co-op work term might seem unrelated. However deep down, I knew there was a correlation between the two. It wasn’t the role that attracted me, but rather it was the cause the organization advocated for. Creating a healthy, inclusive and safe community by funding programs and services to serve our community. This is exactly what attracted me to the role and organization. I felt a sense of togetherness, encouragement and support even before I had started to work as a Campaign Associate. Luckily my co-op experience did in fact confirm that with love, care and support we can make a better community. The joy, support, and positivity spread at the organization was so much that I had to catch it.
At the beginning of my first Co-op, I had a lot of worries and doubts as to whether I would be able to meet the expectations of my role. I loved what the organization does and I’m very passionate about helping people however, I still had a few doubts as to whether I could handle this role since I had no direct experience working in an office job. Nevertheless, I went ahead because my love for the cause was greater than my fear. At the start, I wanted to do my very best, yet I was making a lot of silly mistakes. I thought to myself, how could someone who claims to be detail oriented miss the most important details. Slowly but surely as my supervisor was very patient with me, I became more confident, felt more relaxed and made less mistakes.
The first few weeks were a bit slow, and despite the training I was given at my orientation, I was still unsure what I was supposed to do. As time went by, I began to understand what my roles were mostly through observing my supervisor while working. I slowly began to ease into my roles. I had a supportive supervisor who was always willing to give me chances to do my work right, even if I was slow and took time to figure out some things. My supervisor provided feedback regarding my work whenever she could. I felt relieved knowing I could work into this opportunity as a learner rather than being an expert. I could learn at my own pace, ask for feedback and be ready to implement these changes on future occurrences.
As an SFU United Way Campaign Associate, I am responsible for planning, organizing and working with stakeholders to help run a successful fundraising campaign through various activities chosen by each campus. One of my main tasks was to attend events to engage students and staff to support the amazing work SFU does to support the United Way of British Columbia. Some of my other roles were:
- Supporting SFU Event leads with resources to run campaigns successfully
- Communicating with internal and external stakeholders
- Tracking and reporting progress and results of campaigns
- Promoting Campaign Events on social media, websites and campuses
The best part of my Co-op is the diversity of the teammates I worked with. Most of my team members were either loaned or sponsored by their university, and each and every one of us have different backgrounds and experiences that we bring with us in running campaigns. I appreciate the opportunity to learn from different teammates and the range of activities the role offers from the initial management of event logistics, to the communication and promotion of events then attending campaigns and actually seeing the event come to life. It is truly amazing to say that teamwork has been the best part of my experience, as I got to meet incredible and hardworking members who inspired me and my work.
Many times I asked myself or get asked how this co-op is related to my field since I’m studying psychology. At first it seems like there is no correlation. However upon deeper reflection, I see exactly how they are connected. Working with SFU United Way as a campaign associate is one of the best things that has happened to me. Because the organization helps to raise funds to help support the vulnerable people in our community, who are susceptible to physical or mental illness. The very core of psychology is about enriching one’s life and experiences, which United Way provides opportunity for at a larger level.
This Co-op has been a life changing experience for me. While I had no expert direct experience in the work-field, my passion and my desire to learn helped me a lot in this job. My advice to anyone that is unsure of whether to apply for a co-op or a position because of lack of experience is to look beyond these limitations. While you might not exactly have the direct skills for a particular position, you perhaps have the attitude and willingness to learn. And if you have that, go for it. There might be a few rejections, but eventually you will get a chance to find someone who is willing to give you an opportunity to learn. This co-op has been a great opportunity for me and it has definitely impacted me positively. It taught me how to be more gentle with myself and has made me more confident in my career path, which is any service role position where I get to make positive contributions to humanity.