As a student we often get asked by family or friends, “What kind of job do you hope to get with your degree?”, “Do you know what you are going to do after you finish school?” or, “What is it that you are going to specialize in?”
These questions can become very stressful if you don’t have an answer for them. It can be hard to explain to someone that, yes, you have almost completed your degree, but, no, you have no clue what you are going to do afterwards. Not all students know what they want to be from the age of 5 and stick with it. When I was 5 I wanted to be a princess, a mermaid, a veterinarian, and a lawyer, and some days I wanted to be all of them at the same time. Most of us change our minds multiple times as we grow up, as our interests change and our passions change, (with the exception that I am 24 and still want to be a mermaid).
I will graduate this spring with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration with a marketing major, and I can finally answer the above questions with assurance. Being confident in what I want to do after graduation in regards to a plan, a specialization, or a job, did not come easy; I had to work hard and try many things. The one thing that I believe truly helped in my figuring out what I want to do after graduation, was that I joined the Co-op Program.
For those of you who may not know exactly what the Co-op Program is, here is some background information. Co-op, or rather, Cooperative Education is a program that allows students to gain “hands on” working experience in their desired field of study while also receiving credits. You will work with a career advisor in improving important skills such as:
- Resume writing
- Cover letter writing
- Interviewing skills
- Appropriate dress attire
- Portfolio building
After this 1 credit course has been completed, you will be given access to a database full of available jobs. These jobs are designed to help you gain some real world “hands on” experience before graduating so you can build up your resume and find what you are passionate about pursuing. The purpose of co-op is to gain experience, whether that be to try out jobs that you are interested in or to also try out jobs that are a little different from what you think you want to pursue. Your interests of what you enjoy may surprise you when it comes to “hands on” vs theory.
My co-op experience took place this last summer and it definitely made me feel more confident about entering the working world after graduation. I completed my co-op work term at TRU World in the department of International Marketing and Communications. This job was great for me because the job description highlighted a large array of marketing platforms that I would get to experience, and being a student who didn’t really know what to specialize in, this was very helpful.
From conducting market research on the education market in various international countries, to creating presentations and hosting live interviews, preparing and editing content for promotional print materials, and answering student inquiries on programs of interest and application procedures, I was able to experience “hands on” learning in a variety of marketing practices. This was ideal for me as I was able to understand what area of marketing I truly enjoyed and would like to pursue further. However, figuring out my future career goals was not the only thing co-op helped me to achieve, it also gave me a better understanding of how the theory we learn in classrooms can be applied to the work industry. Being in my last year of school, where I am now taking the bulk of my marketing courses, I truly feel as though I understand the concepts in which I am learning, far more than I would have if I hadn’t taken co-op. I am able to apply theories to a real life situation in my head, making them easier to understand and learn. I believe I have gained a deeper appreciation for classroom lectures and find myself more engaged and interested, for I now understand that, yes, everything you are lectured on in your classes, no matter how irrelevant you may think it is, is useful for some reason.
Not only did I gain an abundance of experience and knowledge from my co-op term, but I also made new friends. The experience I gained over the summer has given me more than I had ever imagined it would. From figuring out what my true passions are, to gaining knowledge and an understanding of marketing that I never thought existed, to making friends that I not only like to talk to and hangout with, but also learn from, I would say that co-op made a very large impact on my current and future life.
I would recommend co-op to anyone and everyone, if it is an option in your program of study. The things that you will take from it will make a large impact on you and your future. So if my experience has influenced you in any way then contact the co-op office at 250-371-5627 or drop by OM 1712. The experience of co-op has the potential to change your life and help to create your future.