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SFU Co-op Student

Elvina headshot
Back at the beginning of the year, if someone were to ask me what industry I wanted to work in, health and wellness would never have crossed my mind.

A few months later, my job as a Marketing & Outreach Assistant with SFU Health & Counselling Services has changed my views altogether.

Besides gaining clarity about the industry I want to work in, one of the most valuable things this position has taught me is the importance of employees' well-being and health. Sometimes, as a co-op student, there can be pressure to put in a lot of work at the expense of your well-being. Fortunately, this hasn't been the case for me during my time at Health & Counselling Services. I've learned new ways to better take care of myself in a workplace setting. Here are my top 3 pieces of advice to better improve your well-being in the workplace: 

1. Don't be Afraid to Speak up When Things get Overwhelming

Often, co-op students feel that to make a good impression with their employer, they have to say yes to everything, even if they cannot handle the workload. In the past, when working on school projects, I had this same mindset. As a result, the work I produced wasn't as good as I had expected, and my overall well-being was on a decline. When I started working at Health & Counselling Services, I still had this outlook. However, it quickly changed when my co-workers began to notice that I was constantly on edge. To help, they would encourage and assure me that if new projects came my way, it was okay to turn them down and that no one would think less of me. Slowly, this gave me the confidence to be honest about my workload with my colleagues. As intimidating as it can be to say no to a superior, it is necessary for those situations where you know you're overloaded with work. I now feel that I have a stronger understanding of what I can handle and am not afraid to speak up when I need support.

2. Get to Know your Colleagues

As a co-op student, it's hard to spark up conversations with new people, especially those who may be in higher up positions than you. However, most people want to get to know you, it's just a matter of giving them a chance to do so. One of my most favourite things about working at Health & Counselling Services is the fact that I get to work alongside a diverse group of people. From doctors to counsellors to health promotion strategists to nurses, I've been able to engage in a lot of interesting conversations and learn about so many new things. These new conversations with new people have made a big impact on how connected I feel to the department I work for. Feeling more connected gave me more motivation to work at my fullest potential and feel excited to come to work every day.

3. Take your Breaks

We're all guilty of skipping breaks to power through a project or assignment. Taking breaks has many benefits, such as increased creativity and productivity; however, few people take them. When I first started at Health & Counselling Services, taking a full hour break felt so foreign to me; I almost felt guilty for taking a full break. I would rarely take breaks while in school, and not until recently, after working with a team of mental health and well-being professionals, have I finally realized how toxic it was for me to feel bad about giving myself time to re-energize and clear my mind. You should never feel bad about taking a break, everyone deserves to take one. For me, it helps that at Health & Counselling Services, even if you don't take your break, people notice and check in on you and encourage you to take a break, even if it's a short one. This genuine care and concern means a lot and can make a positive impact on one's well-being.

The lessons that I've shared today can be applied in many settings. No matter what the situation may be, it's important to take care of yourselves to perform at your fullest potential. I am very grateful to have learned these lessons in a short span of 4 months. These lessons that I've learned not only will continue to help me throughout my career but will also inspire me to be more empathetic and help others.

SFU Co-op Student
Elvina is a fifth year BBA student concentrating in marketing, while minoring in Interactive Arts & Technology. Currently, she is completing a co-op position as a Marketing & Communications Assistant at Simon Fraser University’s Health & Counselling Services. During her free time, you can find Elvina either enjoying a new Netflix documentary or bullet journaling. Connect with Elvina on Linkedin.

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