It is known throughout SFU Work Integrated Learning (WIL) that the Faculty of Applied Sciences Co-op team faces one of the largest volumes of both seeking students and placements within SFU’s co-op program. This is partially related to the mandatory co-op component of many programs within FAS, and the success of managing such a large caseload while simultaneously innovating is attributed to an efficient and collaborative team. I have had the pleasure to grow professionally within this team for the past eight months and have had the opportunity to experience and manage a portion of the Program Assistant caseload and provide an innovative approach to a pilot project I was offered to lead.
The key to working within a fast-paced environment is understanding the value and urgency of the various tasks that come across your desk. As my second semester progressed, I began to receive a higher frequency of tasks with increasing importance, and I prepared to tackle my pilot project aimed at increase the accuracy of job posting statuses on myExperience through employer engagement. Through utilizing my foundational experience from the previous semester, I was able to easily identify and prioritize incoming tasks throughout the days and weeks. I had the opportunity to cover various portfolios during PA vacation and MOD days, which required a high level of accuracy while working at an accelerated pace. Being given both an increased workload and support from my team allowed me to grow in both comfort and skillset through navigating the busy days one by one.
I have always been an inquisitive learner, needing to know the rationale behind how things function. Implementing this constant inquiry of “why” in my work terms has allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the rationale behind our processes. These questions created the foundation of my understanding which in turn allowed me to apply the procedures taught in my training to similar situations that arose daily. This foundational knowledge allowed me to meet one of my learning objectives of trusting in my processes and making confident decisions with my training and hands-on experience in mind. It also helped that if a situation arose that was out of my depth, I had an incredibly supportive team to reach out to.
The biggest take away from my co-op term is to be fearless when asking questions, especially when new tasks are being added to my plate. Each new task within a role is a learning opportunity and I learned that treating it as such will make the overall co-op term more enriching and rewarding. I also suggest keeping an ongoing list of the tasks and projects you participate in, as it is good practice to use them as a preparation tool for performance reviews and feedback sessions. This is a practice that I used while working with the FAS Co-op team and will continue to do throughout my future co-ops and career.
I would urge any student to consider taking a co-op term because these positions are intentionally designed with students’ professional growth and learning in mind. The main reason I chose to externally transfer into Beedie is for the value of hands-on industry experience SFU’s co-ops provide. I never anticipated working within the co-op program that drew me into SFU in the first place, but am beyond grateful for the opportunity I have been given.