Kirsten - My Top Five Co-op Take-Aways

28 April 2017
After traveling for a few years right out of high school, I went back to school to begin my path towards a career. I am currently completing my Bachelor in Business Administration, Human Resource Management & Leadership, at Camosun College. To graduate from the program, there is a requirement of applied work experience. I was optimistic that when I got the opportunity for a co-op position, it would be beneficial for my career development.

With one year left in college before graduating, the stress around finding a job after my degree was already setting in. I hadn’t had any previous employment that was related to my degree, so with no experience all I could think about is if I would ever get a job in my desired field. Fortunately, I got a co-op position with the British Columbia Government at the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training and started working with the team in January 2017. Since this was my first co-op experience, I had unclear expectations, but hoped for the best.

Within the first week, I learned a lot about government, and what working in an office would be like. Instantly, I was able to apply the knowledge I have learned at school to my work. Throughout the term I have learned lots of valuable information and gained great experience.

Here are the top five things I will be taking away from my co-op:
  1. The importance of goal setting- For my co-op to be beneficial, for both myself and my managers, it was important to set goals to ensure that we had the same expectations and ideas; being on the same track led to goals being achieved, with positive and valuable outcomes. Experiencing working with my manager and my co-op field instructor on goals has shown me the importance of developing goals at every new position.
  2. Building relationships - As part of my co-op responsibilities, I get the opportunity to perform client engagement and outreach for at different events around British Columbia. Each event has a different audience from students, employers, job seekers, etc., that I interact and connect with. These events have allowed for new networking connections for my future and realizing how important building relationships are.
  3. Saying yes to opportunities - Throughout my term, there have been multiple opportunities for new experiences, inside and outside my comfort zone. From those experiences, I have learned that taking initiative and making the best out of every situation is the key to having a successful work term.
  4. Applying what I learned in school - Many times during school I have wondered if the classes I am taking would ever be useful in the future. Just from one co-op term, I have applied multiple skills that I have learned so far during my degree; now I can see how the classes I am taking will be beneficial to my career.
  5. Making use of available resources - I always knew that there were resources out there that could help with my career, jobs, etc., but I never utilized the resources that were available to me before. Now with my new enhanced knowledge of, it will continue to be a resource for career and employment information in the future.
Participating in the co-op program was one of the best decisions I could have made. My professional, networking, leadership and marketing skills have all been enhanced while gaining experience. This opportunity has opened up doors for my future and provided me with new resources to continue to explore. If there is ever an option to do a co-op as part of your program I highly recommend taking the opportunity and making the most of it. Take the next steps by visiting WorkBC’s Co-operative Education page.