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SFU Co-op Student

Natalie, author, smiling
Take it from me; you can make your work report so much more valuable of an experience than simply checking off the items on your list.

Although I was standing in front of only 5 people, I was very nervous. I had just watched 3 other people share their amazing job experiences for their end of work term presentation, and I quickly realized that I was not feeling ready to do my presentation. Some of them were first time co-op students like me, but there were also second time and third time co-op students.  There was a wide range of experiences, and because it was my first co-op I felt like my experience was not nearly as impressive.

It was my first work term report, and as a communications student, we are expected to do oral presentations in front of our communications co-op peers.  Some students had pieces from their portfolio that they made during their term, others had really beautiful presentation slides, and others just waltzed through the presentation with charming anecdotes and jokes.  When it was my turn, I felt pretty lackluster with my generic looking PowerPoint and seemingly uninteresting material.  I remember thinking as I watched other people’s presentations “I wish I took pictures at work”, “I wish I prepared more personal stories to share”, and “I wish I prepared a little more so I would feel less nervous”.  To prepare for my presentation, I had merely gone through the checklist the communications co-op team provided.  However, this experience taught me that I really needed to take advantage of this golden learning opportunity, and it was much more than just ‘meeting the requirements’.

The “Presentation” work report was an amazing learning opportunity for a variety of reasons:

  • This is a great opportunity to learn about other jobs, organizations, and even think about possible co-ops for the future.  For example, there was one student who spoke about her position and the position really appealed to me.  My next seeking term, I saw that a similar role was posted and I knew that it would be a good one.  (I applied and was selected for it too!)

  • Meet people in your field.  Who knows, you might be working with them someday!

  • Learn from your peer’s experiences.  For instance, I learned tips on how to run events. 

  • Develop presentation skills through presenting, and by noticing other people’s skills.  One exercise that our advisor asked us to do was give feedback on each presentation.  I learned through peer feedback where I excelled and where I didn’t.  Also, by observing other presentations I was able to adapt new techniques into my own presentation style.

In retrospect, I had a good presentation with solid information.  But, for the sake of my personal pride and always wanting to be good at what I do, I wanted to make sure I did leaps and bounds better the next time around.  For my second work term presentation a year later, I had some great pictures, some fun anecdotes prepared, and I like to think that I did a great job at engaging my peers with what I had to say.  I even made a couple jokes!

The co-op program is great because they really cater the skills that are required for each department, and hone in on it in the final project.  Go to your department’s co-op website and you’ll find out what kind of report is expected of you. Depending on your department your work term will vary and might include:

  • Oral Presentations

  • Informational Interviews

  • Scientific Posters

  • Technical Reports

  • Literature Reviews

Regardless of your department, there are plenty of learning opportunities that go along with any end of term reports.

  • The work report is an opportunity for self reflection, and to get to know what kind of career you want to pursue- or don’t want to pursue.  It’s a chance to reevaluate yourself, and see what you’re good at and where you need improvement.

  • Help other peers with your experience!  These end of work term projects are often offered to students who have received a call back for an interview.  I have personally spent many hours scouring the many reports of particular organizations and it really gave me insight on the role.

  • Learn something new, whether it’s about you, a specific project or co-worker.  The work report gives you the excuse to learn!

Check out what kind of work report you’ll have to do and start thinking of how you can really get the most out of the experience.  Take it from me; you can make your work report so much more valuable of an experience than simply checking off the items on your list. 

SFU Co-op Student
Connect with Natalie on LinkedIn or Twitter Natalie is a Communications and English graduate with a love for writing and learning. In the midst of her first co-op workterm as a marketing assistant, where she learned many practical skills and life lessons that inspired her to write this blog series. She volunteered at SFU as an Orientation Leader, and a FCAT Mentor.
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May 5, 2014

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