My brief definition of what a College “Co-op” is: Co-op for me, and many others at Conestoga, is a paid placement where students are given the opportunity to mesh their classroom-based education with hands-on work experience. Depending on which program you’re in, you might get the opportunity to partake in a co-op(s) term during your school year, or throughout your summer break.
Co-op has changed the way I look at my future. It has opened my eyes to many different ideas, and potential career plans. I have also been able to enhance many skills that are mandatory for success in my current field of practice. I chose my program in particular because of the co-op option, and because I know without it – I wouldn’t fully be able to grasp what I will be doing for my long-term career, and the success I will have in it.
I am currently in the middle of my co-op term and have many things to say, the first is that co-op is very beneficial to your career success.
My skills going into co-op have developed immensely throughout the process of my term. I have started to see skills I didn’t think I had, emerge every day. Most of the time in order to get my work done I had to use my current skills to the best of my knowledge to succeed, finish tasks, and adjust to the different work environment. I can confidentially say I am now more organized than ever, I can communicate much better than before, and my problem-solving skills have definitely advanced. I am now starting to develop office management skills, leadership skills, and many other transferable skills that I wasn’t the best at before. These skills are all relevant to have in the working world, and will take me far, the more I am able to enhance them.
I feel that this reason might beat all of the others as to why co-op is so beneficial to your career success. No matter what kind of co-op you have, or placement you’re under-going you will always gain practical work experience. I am exposed every day to workplace practices and procedures that I have never experienced before. Crucial to my success in my current field or for the future is actually getting hands-on experience doing tasks that someone in my dream position will be doing. I’m understanding the industry, and correct terminology. During your co-op it is only expected that you train yourself to adapt to your work environment along with the rules and procedures. This will only help you in the long run, because you’ll have a better idea of what your future will look like.
Depending on where your co-op is, you most likely will be dealing with different business sectors, industries, and positions. During my co-op every day I feel like I am exposed to a little bit of everything. I do administration work, human resource work, customer service, graphic design, and even a little chemistry – this is because of my co-op placement. You get a chance to explore different career options as you are constantly given tasks that are related to your profession but also give you a taste of what other professions might look like. You are able to learn about other sectors and industries, and explore new practices that are relevant to your program. This allows you to decide whether or not you’re on the right track, or if you might be interested in other sectors.
Take that Co-op!
Co-op is a phenomenal experience, and teaches you so many things about yourself and the industry you’re wishing to pursue a career in. So far for me it has been life changing. I have gained many skills I didn’t have before, advanced the skills I developed during college, and tested my knowledge on so many levels. The co-op program expands your network, and allows you to practice what you’ve learned during school in a practical work environment. If you’re currently deciding whether to take that placement, or choose a program with a co-op… I strongly advise you to do so. It is beneficial to your career success and the future, you won’t regret it.