Personal and Professional Challenges and Growth

It’s the fourth day into wellness week with CCA! Today, we (Farah and Erika) will be talking about challenges and how they have contributed to our personal and professional growth. Through trial and error, we learn a lot about ourselves; what we are good at versus what we can improve on. By overcoming certain challenges in any of our experiences, we can work towards our personal and professional growth to become the employee that we want to be! How have your experiences contributed to your own growth?

How have you overcome a challenge and what did you learn? What have these experiences taught you about yourself?

Simon“A challenge I overcame during my career was during my co-op with Agriculture Canada. I remember being surprised that I had got the job at all since it was my first co-op and the position was a senior one on a big drought research project. My first day at the office though, I learned that I would be responsible for leading the project completely on my own! I remember walking home vexed with the worry that I’d bitten off more than I could chew – I felt like they had made a mistake even bringing me there. My already low self-confidence played on my fears but I remembered the tool I had used in first year to gain the success which had brought me there: scheduling. I made a detailed research and report writing plan which guided me through my term logistically and reassured me that I was meeting my targets. Because of this plan I was able to produce a comprehensive 250 page review and presentation on drought forecasting methodologies and my recommendations for a national drought forecasting system. My managers were thrilled with the quality of my work and as a result, I gained a new level of confidence and sense of self-efficacy that has propelled me toward bigger and better goals.

Through my co-op experiences I have also learned more about myself in the work environment. While I’ve been able to excel at independent work, I’ve also loved working in team settings. At my job with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, I got the chance for a mix of both styles. Collaboratively, myself and another student worked on projects supporting the Canadian Plant Health Strategy while independently I supported a set of working groups of the Canadian Plant Health Council. I really enjoyed my time at the Agency because it offered variety in my tasks and levels of socialization throughout the day. From this experience, I learned that I appreciate a balance in independent and team work which has helped inform my career decisions.

- Simon Popescu, 3B, Geography and Environmental Management

Trial and error in any position is what is needed to help you grow. Without challenges, we wouldn’t know our strengths and our weaknesses, and we would not be able to improve. Recognizing what you do and don’t know allows you to self-assess what you want to work on and show the people in your work environment that you are open and willing to learn.

What have you learned about yourself through your experiences? 

CindyAs I am wrapping up my final co-op term and reflecting on my past work terms, I have discovered so many things about myself that have shaped me to the person I am today.

Here are a number of things I learned about myself:

Passionate about what I am doing 

  • Early on in my co-op experiences I learned what I like and didn’t like doing which helped me pave the way for my future work terms. Doing the things I like made me feel happy and proud of what I’ve accomplished. Your passion, what you enjoy doing, is what gets you up and motivates you to keep going. It’s okay to not know what your passion is, be open-minded, take risks, explore different opportunities, and take note of what you like and don’t like. I learned to see the value in all opportunities and be able to find motivation to do things that I don’t like doing.

Working in a team-oriented environment

  • I like to work in teams where we all come together bringing in our own skills and expertise to tackle whatever problem or situation arises. Being able to learn from others, their skill and expertise. My co-op experiences would not have been the same without the team of people I worked with. They are all great and supportive people who encouraged me, believed in my abilities, and made work fun.

Take initiative, get involved

  • I’ve learned that it’s okay to step out of my comfort zone and put myself out there. Getting involved, participating in projects or meetings can help you learn new things, make the most of your experience and help you grow as an individual. It is tough at first, but it was worth it from the connections I’ve made and the valuable skills I’ve developed.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself

  • This is very important. I learned that my manager, my co-workers, they’re all there to support me and help me develop professionally. Being honest with them about my strengths and weaknesses, they were able to share their expertise and give me advice that helped me grow!”

 - Cindy Luu, 4A Science and Business

Angelica“The whole work from home experience and co-op in general has demonstrated the traits and skills that I possess as a student. Knowing what I’m capable of doing helps me stay balanced and stay focused. Work brings me joy because I get to feel validated in my skills as a student, be part of a team, and feel like I’m contributing to something valuable.In terms of work ethic, I really like to prioritize work because it keeps me busy and centered in my life. I find that it really helps to be passionate and interested in the work you do because that fosters a strong work ethic. It also makes you feel like you are putting a 100% into your work when you’re passionate about the content.

I think there needs to be a balance between independent work and teamwork. In terms of being in a team-centric work environment, it’s important to network and collaborate with your coworkers because they possess skills and a point of view that you may not have. It’s important to be open-minded when working in a team because everyone has different learning styles, and different skills/talents that you can learn from. Independent work also helps people learn to be responsible and be their own leader. It’s really important as students, and as people in general, to be able to solve problems on your own. Outside of University, you may have people around to support you but you will have your own problems that you’ll have to manage by yourself and this is an important skill to learn.”

- Angelica Sanchez, 4B, Honours English RMPC (Rhetoric, Media, and Professional Communication)

Every position is about growth and getting experiences that you might not have had going into your work or volunteer position. Sometimes you may make mistakes, but it’s what you take from these events that shape your own personal and professional identity. 


Missed the last few blog posts? You can read Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday’s post!