Your time at university can be some of the most important years of your life. There is a vast array of knowledge that you consume through lectures, readings, and assignments; however, the end goal is to apply this knowledge to workplace skills.
I had the opportunity to test and develop my skills during my Co-op at ACD Systems. I started my first job eight years ago and have continued to work a variety of jobs since, but this has been my first experience in a field related to my studies. Accepting this Co-op work opportunity gave me a fantastic experience that put me in a fast-paced environment dealing with customers and corporations daily. While regular university coursework offers great knowledge, the ability to learn through hands-on experience in the co-op program can add another valuable aspect to your education.
My Co-op with ACD Systems allowed me to develop those “unteachable” skills that can only come from experience and practice. Tasks such as pitching a product sale and handling displeased customers challenged me to make quick decisions while still showing patience, with the ultimate goal of making the customer feel supported. Working in an office also gave me the opportunity to gain experience using sales and cadence systems such as SalesLoft and SalesForce. During a busy day in the office, you feel the pressure of multiple customers needing assistance at once, which is something that cannot be emulated in your studies. By the end of the semester, I was able to make decisions under pressure with ease.
A phone call with a customer is much like a case competition. You are presenting your product and trying to show that it is the best option out of the competitors. However, customers can put you under much more pressure since they are looking for precise answers as well as a good deal. The ability to handle this pressure comes from confidence developed through repetition.
I spent most of my workday handling phone calls, live chats, and emails with a variety of customers. Completing a phone call with a successful sale and answering all questions asked helped build my confidence at the start. However, occasionally there were customers who were displeased and challenging. For example, I had a customer who was very unhappy about an older product not working with their new computer and they become increasingly angry. I was able to resolve this issue while also convincing the customer to purchase a new product. It was the challenging customers who taught me the most by testing my problem-solving techniques, as well as my patience, to find a resolution that benefited both sides. Tough workplace experiences are difficult in the moment, but I believe that they are essential for developing a well-rounded educational experience during a work term.
Working at ACD Systems was a tremendous introduction to a workplace atmosphere. During my work term, I learned new skills and techniques from my coworkers and superiors by working side by side with them daily. I really enjoyed being a part of the team at ACD Systems; everyone was very supportive, and we also had the opportunity to do some out-of-office team-building events! I am very glad that I took this opportunity to partake in a Co-op. I have developed a more rounded skillset from experiencing the pace and pressure of the workplace, which I believe will considerably benefit me in my future endeavours. It was also interesting to see how a sales and customer service department functions from a representative’s point of view. Co-op terms are a major benefit to students who choose to take part!