If you are anything like me, one reason that you might have applied for Co-op was because of the many success stories that you've read and heard about. You hear all these fabulous stories of students going through their Co-op term and learning that what they chose to do turned out to be their true passion. People tell you how they’ve found their dream jobs and that they now know what they want to be pursuing post-grad. While these stories can be so inspiring and motivating, I have realized that it’s also important to remember that it’s okay to come out of a Co-op term still unsure of what you may want to do.
Going into my first seeking semester, I had an idea of the kind of role that I would be interested in but still wasn’t exactly sure. I enjoyed using social media and I loved my graphic design classes in school, so I was excited when I landed a position as a Social Media and Graphic Design Intern for a small non-profit. As this was my first Co-op work term, I didn’t have much experience aside from part-time jobs that mostly consisted of retail and customer service roles, and I wasn’t sure what social media and graphic design work would be like in a professional setting. I wondered, would this Co-op term confirm my interests and show me what I would want to pursue post-grad?
My first Co-op term taught me so much and I loved it. Everyone I worked with was amazing and the projects that I got to work on were extraordinary. But when it was over, I realized that what I thought I would want to do post-grad might not actually be what I want to pursue. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media and graphic design, but I learned that this work might not be the exact fit for me. I discovered that I actually wanted to further explore the field of communications and see what else there may be.
Co-op is all about the experience. You’ll never know until you try. It’s easy to forget about wonderful experiences and lessons that you have learned along the way when you don’t get the outcomes that you thought you were looking for. Don’t feel let down if you don’t come out of a Co-op term feeling like you have discovered your one true calling.
Your first Co-op term will teach you a lot. Both about yourself personally and professionally. It is your first step into the working world, so you’re bound to hit a few bumps in the road. Whether you’ve discovered new interests, solidified existing ones, or discovered that you may want to try something new, you have still experienced something totally new and exciting. It’s okay to come out of your first Co-op term without a solid plan of what you want to do post-grad. You tried something new and are a step closer to discovering your future calling!
Co-op is an amazing way to learn more about yourself and what you may (or may not) want to pursue in a career post-grad. You not only grow professionally but you also grow so much personally. Not only did I gain valuable work experience but I’ve learned so much about myself. Just because you haven’t totally figured it out yet doesn’t mean you won’t. Now when you go search for your next Co-op or post-grad job, you have that perspective with you! You may even end up somewhere that you never expected or imagined. You got this!
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