It was nearly three years ago when I overheard a conversation that had changed my life beyond imagination. Okay, perhaps I am slightly exaggerating here, but it was indeed a “light-bulb moment” that had a significantly large impact on the upcoming years to come. You see, by the third year of my SFU undergraduate career, I found myself dreading the very thought of life after university.Like majority of other students, I admit, I was scared for the future; scared if I would be able to pay off my student loans, scared if I would even be able to land a job I can eventually call a career and just down-right scared if I would survive out in the real world.
It was a mid-life crisis for a Communication and IAT major nearly half way towards completing her degree. Complicatedly bittersweet.
In retrospect, third year marked a phase in which I started to thoughtfully consider setting myself on the right track towards a successful career path. After all, I was in a rut that most students can relate to; long hours of churning out assignments to meet deadlines, frantically completing 20 page essays (if you’re a fellow Communication zombie like me) and working a part-time job that the only sole reason anyone would stick with was for the extra spending money in one’s pocket.
It was time to press that “upgrade” button in life and get those dusty cogs in my career-path running.
SFU Cooperative Education
It was during one afternoon in lecture when I overheard two students discussing something called “co-op” and their opportunities to experience working in a field-related job. Intrigued, I did my own research and eventually worked my way into joining the SFU co-op program (an optional program where students can explore their career options by alternating between study semesters and paid, resume-boosting work semesters).
After two semesters of participating in resume and cover letter-building workshops, preparing for interviews and applying to various job opportunities related to my field of study, I finally landed a job at Advisor Websites (a global leader in website software for the financial and insurance industries) as their technical support coordinator.
During the 8 months of my co-op experience, I was simultaneously applying what I learned in the classroom to my job while gaining new skills applicable for future success. It was an enriching experience to say the very least.
My day to day work life included providing tech support, coding websites, writing quirky blogs and how-to tutorials as well as crushing a few beer cans and playing a bit of Foosball after work (of course). In the heart of downtown Vancouver, I was in the center of all the tech start-up action that was booming and truly, I was ever more grateful to be a part of it all.
Fast forward to present day, I am in midst of completing my last semester as an undergraduate and excited to be returning to Advisor Websites as their full-time, permanent employee (*insert smirk*). As such, co-op was the perfect antidote to my undergrad mid-life crisis because it did these 3 things:
1.) It provided me valuable and life-long resume, cover-letter and interview skills needed to outshine my competition.
2.) Co-op provided me the experience I needed to pursue my passion in a Communication and IAT related career.
3.) Lastly, it helped me feel confident in graduating with a successful future in mind since I gained a year of resume boosting work experience.
As a concluding note, for anyone on the edge of applying for co-op, I’d say, “just go for it”. School is not only about coming out with a shiny piece of paper as proof of your academic accomplishment, but it’s also about the work experience you gain out of those years in it. In essence, make the most out of the time you have at SFU while you can!