3 Vital Reasons Why Co-op is Beneficial to Your Career Success

A Week Full of “Firsts”
Jasmine – 2nd year Public Relations student at Conestoga College

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.

  1. Develop New Skills and Enhance Current One’s

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.

  1. Practical Work Experience

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.

  1. Explore Your Career Options

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.

Get involved, you won’t regret it

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Jasmine – 2nd Year Bachelor of Public Relations

I can honestly say that the best thing I have ever done while attending college was to get involved. Last year I decided to be adventurous and join a school club. At the time I had my heart set on being a part of the college, and wished nothing more than to be involved. I found myself constantly circling back to Conestoga Students Inc’s home page, but was too nervous to apply for anything. I was worried I would be too busy or wouldn’t be good in any of the clubs. Thankfully after extensive research, and a courageous instinct, I applied to be a part of the Leadership Ambassador program and go on the Global Service Leadership trip. I say thankfully because, I didn’t know where they would take me, how much fun I would have, and the impact I’d make.

Fast-forward four months… and I am signing up to be in the 2nd semester’s Leadership Ambassador Program. Now I am taking Spanish lessons, buying water purifying water bottles, and getting travel shots. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in just a few months…

Leadership Ambassador Program

The Leadership Ambassador Program was an amazing experience that I loved being a part of. It consisted of attending four meetings, and volunteering for events that related to the community at Conestoga College. Each volunteering opportunity I was a part of changed my vision of society, the world and people in general. I loved attending the meetings because every meeting was a test, a learning opportunity and a chance to grow. I learned so many things about myself, and about other leaders around me. The program taught me the true meaning of teamwork, collaboration, leadership and communication, and how important those characteristics are for your success.

Global Service Leadership Trip

Now the GSL trip is a whole other story. This experience has been one that I will never forget, and might even want to experience next year. The most exciting part of this trip is being able to go to a Costa Rica and volunteer my time to help with a construction and renovation project. However, since I haven’t got to that point yet, I have been able to make a lot of new friends, plan fundraising events, attend multiple meetings, two really fun team building nights and a few leadership workshops. At this point we are just preparing for our trip in February and getting to learn more about travel safety, Costa Rican culture, and finally a few Spanish lessons! Leading up to the trip and being part of a team, going to meetings and attending all of those great things have helped build my character, destress myself from school, learn leadership skills and teamwork skills. The best thing about the trip is knowing that you are a part of something greater than yourself, and you are helping others by volunteering your time.

The moral of my story is to get involved as much as you can. If you’re scared to join a club or a team, just know you’re not the only one in that room that’s feeling that way. You can do it, and you won’t regret one bit of it.