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SFU Co-op Student

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Me on the right next to a wall with the text "Communications and Marketing 2200"

I’ve been an Internal Communications Assistant at SFU Communications & Marketing (C&M) for the past three semesters. (No, it’s not silly if you’ve never heard of internal communications before! Supporting internal comms means keeping internal audiences—AKA faculty and staff—engaged and informed.) As a result, I’ve had the privilege of tackling the What’s On newsletter, Faculty & Staff Dashboard and a bunch of funky projects in-between.

But 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.

It might go a little like this:

You will embrace change.

I won’t lie to you. Coming out of one placement and directly into another will be hard on the body, mind and spirit.

You’ll have to get used to reporting to a different supervisor, working on projects that you have no prior experience with and leaning into an unfamiliar organizational culture—all while enduring the growing pains of being the new kid. Again.

It’ll feel like diving into the pool on a breezy summer night after sitting in the hot tub for too long. And just like those swims, you’ll get acclimated in no time.

You will make mistakes... and learn how to own them.

This may just be my favourite takeaway from my entire year at C&M.

Some days will feel like this:

GIF of SpongeBob surrounded by a fire trying to get everything under control
Credit
https://media.giphy.com/media/nrXif9YExO9EI/giphy.gif

If I know my pre-C&M self at all, the above might induce—*cue pharmaceutical commercial voice*—extreme panic, stress sweat and itchiness with no identifiable source. I’m happy to report that those days are gone.

Whenever I do something questionable, one of my project leaders will pull me aside and calmly ask, “Hey, can you tell me a little more about X?” When I finish telling the tale, guess what she does? She thanks me.

Making mistakes doesn’t have to be scary and owning up to them doesn’t have to be a punishment. Let that sink in.

You will make new connections. (Spoiler: they’re even better in person.)

Life is about to get a lot more colourful. You’ll see people in 3D fullscreen (!!), go on proper coffee chats and even bask in the joy of rolling your chair over to someone else’s desk to ask them a question rather than pinging them and waiting for the notorious ellipsis to appear.

There’ll be some hesitancy (and maybe it creeps back in now and then), but you’ll work through it. And it’ll be oh, so worth it.

Group of co-op students taking a selfie
L-R: Co-op photo day, C&M internal team at last year’s holiday party
L-R: Co-op photo day, C&M internal team at last year’s holiday party.
You will squash that self-doubt. Read that again.

Pre-Co-op-Erica, you attribute too many things that you get right to luck. But one day at work, it will occur to you that maybe it’s more than just good vibes—it’s you.

Maybe all of the celebratory MS Teams GIFs sent after receiving zero edits on a draft, the coffee you get treated to when you successfully tie up loose ends on a story and the sweet treats left on your desk after you hit your deadlines were onto something. And what a beautiful day it’ll be.

You will be filled with gratitude.

Every Monday, our team comes together for a check-in. And every week, without fail, our leader sets aside time on the agenda for gratitude—whether it’s for a fellow teammate or simply something that happened in the past few days that’s worth cheering for (as best you can at 9 AM).

For the past while, I kind of feel like I’m living through those meetings on repeat. Gratitude on gratitude.

And it’s because some very special people decided to take a chance on me countless months ago.

Because there always seems to be an abundance of feedback, expert tips, pep talks and coffee runs—oftentimes without even asking.

Because this role somehow blessed me with a new group of friends.

Because I get to walk away from this placement with a vision of where I want to be after graduation, a portfolio that I would’ve never imagined would belong to me and the silliest, dimple-doused smile on my face.

This is where I leave you.

So, pre-Co-op-me, there you have it. You’ve got your work cut out for you. (But I’ve peeked at the end of the book, and there’s a happy ending).

Go do your thing. I’m rooting for you.

Participants and Contributors
SFU Co-op Student

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