At the start of my co-op job search, I felt lost. I had done all the required preparation over the semester, attended the Q&A’s, and spoke to peers who were both in their practicums as well as completed them. Despite many hours gathering all this advice and hearing about the experiences of many others, I felt as though something was missing. I still felt an uncertainty in me, one which none of my peers seemed to exhibit. Looking back, I’ve come to realize that uncertainty stemmed from not knowing what I was looking for in a practicum; what I was hoping to gain as well as what I had to offer. I knew I wanted to work somewhere related to my field of study (Kinesiology). However, that desire only managed to narrow down which tab of job listings I was looking through. Not knowing where I’d fit in or where to even look, I decided to follow my interests. I applied to many listings and was called back for a couple of interviews, but still hadn’t found anything that truly excited me.
One afternoon as I sat in the SUB at SFU, studying in between my classes, an email popped up from the co-op team regarding a listing from Innovative Fitness. They were looking for Professional Training Coaches, and as I read the listing I became more and more enticed. It wasn’t like other listings which wanted assistants or administrators, it was like Innovative Fitness was looking for an individual. I felt super underqualified and scared to apply but in a good way. In the spur of the moment (and while facing an impending application deadline), I submitted a cover letter and my documentation. I was more than surprised to get a response a few days later asking for an interview.
Going into my interview at Innovative Fitness I felt like a black sheep. After all, I was only 19 years old with minimal experience in a coaching capacity, and just a few semesters of Kinesiology courses under my belt. Furthermore, I had no experience working with clients in a 1-on-1 setting, or at all for that matter. I was even lacking in having experience in a team setting; mainly doing individual sports like climbing and fighting instead of team sports. It had been more than 5 years since I had been part of a team; when I was in JV football. All I knew was that I had been training in the gym for about 6 years up until then, and I had a passion for exercise.
Despite these feelings of uncertainty about how I’d fit in at Innovative Fitness, I decided I’d follow some advice I had gotten from my mom. She told me that I had gotten a call-back for a reason, and quite frankly I had nothing to lose, so just put my best foot forward and dive in. So I decided to make the best of what I had, and did some research on the company before walking into my interview essentially blind.
One thing that struck me most about the first time walking into the gym at Innovative Fitness, and I think this is something I will always remember. I was very nervous and filled with anxiety about what was to come, and after speaking to reception and sitting down to wait, two of the coaches walked up to me to greet me. They knew my name already and greeted me with a smile, asking how I was doing and wishing me luck with my interview. It was something that on paper is super small, but at the moment made me feel welcome in an (at the time) scary environment. Shortly after, I had the opportunity to chat with a different coach while waiting, and I randomly decided to ask if he had any advice on my interview. He chuckled and told me to just be myself. To you, that might seem obvious, but looking back it was really valuable advice. I think that if I had gone into that interview being “fake”, or being who I thought Innovative Fitness wanted me to be, I’d be in a very different place than I am now. If I had to give any advice to any nervous students like myself going into their co-op interviews, I’d give the very same words of wisdom that I received, and just be yourself.
Without revealing too much about how Innovative Fitness conducts its interviews, I completed both the verbal and technical aspects with as much confidence as I could muster. I felt as though I had made a connection with my interviewer (also my to-be supervisor), but I understood that there were many more candidates applying for the same job too. Several days went by, and I assumed that I was passed over. On my way home one day, I looked down at my phone and was ecstatic to receive an email from my interviewer, offering me the position.