Tutoring on co-op: a teachable moment

A photo of Manvi standing by a lake.Hi! My name is Manvi (she/her) and I’m an Honours Arts and Business co-op student and I completed my first work term this winter. My major is Economics and I'm also working towards a minor in Legal Studies.

What are some main projects that you worked on during your co-op term?

For my first co-op this winter, I was working as a business-math tutor at the Hazel McCallion Campus of Ontario’s Sheridan College. My work included helping students in first-year business courses such as accounting, math, economics, statistics and management. I was also responsible for preparing a monthly report one month after carefully analyzing graphs and commenting on tutoring performance.

I feel my co-op experience last term was quite unique as my job was more academic-focused rather than corporate. A significant proportion of my working hours had been free for me to study and prepare myself to help students. Since I was tutoring for first-year topics which I had completed before, I utilized my free time at work for self-development.

I spent time reading the news, preparing course content for upcoming sessions and catching up on my PD coursework. I also used this time to learn about things that interest me. For instance, I have been reading a lot about the Russia-Ukraine war recently which led me to research the historical context of this war. I delved deep into the Russian Revolution and watched some documentaries on it.

How did you find the transition from working remotely to in-person for your co-op job?

Once my work switched from remote to in-person, my daily tasks included navigating the bus routes to get to work. I had to transfer from one bus to another because I was using two transit systems. It took me 45-50 minutes one way to reach work. I traveled in harsh weather conditions early in the morning. This was quite a big change for me as I was accustomed to sleeping for a little longer.

After a few trips to and from work, I realized that one of the transit systems wasn’t configured very well with Google Maps. The buses were hardly punctual. For this reason, I was late to work a couple of times. Having understood this defect, I started to leave for work much earlier than I needed to so that I wasn’t late (better to reach 15 minutes early than 5 minutes late, right?)

A photo of Manvi wearing South-Indian cultural clothes.How do you adapt to a culturally diverse work environment?

Since Sheridan College admits students of various age groups ranging from young millennials just starting their careers to adults looking to change career paths, I had to change my tone and teaching methods suitable for my tutee. It was exciting for me to interact with people of such different backgrounds. I have worked with students belonging to various cultures. These aspects have improved my ability to respectfully communicate with diverse groups.

My employment training included tips on using gender-neutral language and techniques. I was glad to see that my organization is inclusive and respectful of all types of individuals and does not discriminate on grounds of sex, religion, colour or class.

It is important to me that my workplace values diversity and inclusivity. As an Asian female working in Canada, I appreciate ethnic heterogeneity and unbiased workplaces. Many of my colleagues at Sheridan had international backgrounds. Everyone was friendly toward each other and there was no hostility in the office.

These values align with my expectations of a healthy and friendly workplace ecosystem. Moving forward, I hope to find similar working conditions in terms of diversity and congeniality.

What sort of challenges did you face during your work term? How did you overcome these challenges?

As my office was located in another city, I had to move out of Waterloo to get closer to my work. Luckily, I didn’t have to search for accommodations as my aunt lived closer to my workplace and I was able to stay at her place.

Excited at the prospect of spending time with my family, I was happy with this arrangement even though I had to be away from my friends. It wasn’t long after that I found out my aunt and uncle wouldn't be staying with me for the next three months as they had to travel to India for my aunt’s medical treatments. I was being left responsible for the entire house.

Initially, I was thrilled at the prospect of living alone. However, I soon came to realize the various duties which came with managing a household. Every time I left the house, I had to ensure the doors were tightly locked and all electric appliances were turned off. In addition to cooking for myself, I had to clean my own dishes, take out the trash, vacuum the floors and do many more household chores. There was no one I could depend on. This lifestyle was drastically different from the one I had become accustomed to in Waterloo with my friends around me 24/7.

A photo of Manvi playing the piano.From this experience, I have learned a lot about myself and honed my abilities in time management, professional work ethic, navigation, cooking, learning, stress management, communication, and maintaining my physical and mental health through it all. I'm certain that these four months have transformed me into a better, more capable individual.

I am definitely more confident in my abilities now and I trust that I can achieve anything I set my mind to with just a little bit of hard work and determination.

What’s next for you?

For further development, I want to hone overall adaptability and data literacy to prepare for a dynamic job market. To achieve this, I will need to study intensively, stay on top of current affairs, and improve my transferable skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and leadership.

I am aware that one of my shortcomings is that I do not particularly enjoy group projects. Accepting this flaw brings me one step closer to addressing and overcoming it. To close this gap in my abilities, I will engage in as many group projects as possible and approach them with a positive outlook.

This co-op has developed my theoretical knowledge of my preferred subjects. It has also familiarized me with a daily routine of going to work and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

In the future, I'm hoping to apply my skills in a business and add value to a corporate organization. For my next co-op, I want to test my abilities and push myself to work harder. By then I will be more confident in going to work every day and simultaneously maintaining good lifestyle practices.