Facebook Status (not from me): Last week of Co-op and I’m not ready for it to end.
I definitely couldn’t agree more. I bet more than one of my Facebook peers who are in the Cooperative Education Program this summer term has said the same thing. It has been a tremendous experience both for me and for my co-workers here at GEF and that I can say is the main reason why we are working on continuing on…indefinitely.
If you had a chance to read my last blog post with the Students’ Union, I have shared some key things that I have learned during my time there. I would like to do it again since it is a wonderful way to reflecting on all the time that I have worked here.
Great Supervisors = Great Coworkers = Great Working Environment. I have spent a whole blog post about this, but I can’t emphasize this enough. What I realized is that the same thing was totally evident with all my other co-workers. They are all very knowledgeable, they love telling me stories of their experiences and expertise and just fun to work with. If you are surrounded with these types of people, you are well on your way to being an excellent part of the team as well.
There is value in learning basic maintenance tasks in your personal life. While working on the side project that I was given, I had the opportunity to interview our technicians from various trades on a regular basis. I think that as an individual, we should all know how to do basic DIY tasks in our house from electrical, plumbing or patching the drywall that I have dented while I was angry the night before. With documenting these how-to documents I challenged myself by trying to replace a door knob on my own and I felt great. Even a general awareness on how the building systems work together in your home or building can give a new appreciation and motivation to do your part to keep them functional.
Assertiveness, patience and creativity are important to push your project forward. It can get frustrating especially in doing a project that is absolutely new. Losing direction or delays are quite inevitable. Sometimes, you need to ask, even repeatedly that some things need to be done to get going. And if the speed of the progress is not what you have preferred, sometimes it takes patience to wait for your boss to find the time and catch up with you. There are many ways to get the feedback or component that you need and the options are limitless. I learned how to juggle a good balance of these three to keep myself motivated and still excited about the tangible effect of our project to the organization.
In finding a company that you are a good fit for, focus on their purpose. I was chatting with our HR Director and mentioned how I love working for not-for-profits. I shared that that will be one of my main criteria for finding an organization to work with. She mentioned that there are many other companies that may be a good fit that could be for-profit, it’s all about knowing their mission and how it fits with your values.
In working for not-for-profits, join their other volunteer activities to re-connect yourself with their cause. I frequently hear from my coworkers that they love working “for the seniors”. I had the chance to directly interact with them by helping out during the Summer Olympics where I cheered on our “athletes” to perform in the sports that we made sure are something they can do well. When one of our apartments was on fire, many of us staff took turns assisting the site in helping the seniors get their possessions and coordinated new living arrangements for them. We are indeed here for the seniors. And everything connects to that, from the policies that I am making to make sure that their living spaces are well maintained to the social events that make them feel better about themselves. I realized how I loved that and it encouraged me to do the best I can in my employee role to create an impact to them.
Re-connect with former employers. At first, I still felt a little apprehensive about this, but when I contacted my former supervisor for my work term report, I realized how much I have been missing. She offered me great advice for my report and for my upcoming life stage which is post-graduation and support for job searches. Take the chance; it’s definitely worth that first scary email or phone call.
Your contributions during co-op extend beyond your term. I was still subscribed to the Facebook page of where I worked for my first co-op. We were doing one project that didn’t get finished in time before my term ends but we did a tremendous progress in that project. My former supervisor promised that once she and my successor finish the project, I will be given a copy of the resource. Imagine my thrill when I got a message about that last week! I knew it will be a valuable resource document but the resulting product exceeded my expectations. All of your projects and reports, your exit interview and (sometimes) rants, even unfinished work is a key contribution that you have made during your time and will affect your successors, the organization and the people they serve in ways you least expect it.
You WILL do little stupid mistakes; laugh at it, and then fix it. Many of the information I learned about are very technical and are in areas I know almost nothing about. I stumble upon many things such as technical processes, building terminology and I get it wrong sometimes. I was confused for the longest time what a P Trap is, especially how to spell it during the interview. Until I was able to do some more research, find an illustration and then the spelling, where it all made sense. That process will happen so many times and as long as you have a positive approach to it, you will learn and have some fun memories to remember.
I would like to thank my supervisor, the Facility Management Department and the entire GEF organization for a wonderful summer term. I’m looking forward to trying out the new arrangement of working remotely to continue contributing to the foundation.