Words of advice
Waterloo co-op students reflect on their remote work terms and offer tips for the next cohort
Waterloo co-op students reflect on their remote work terms and offer tips for the next cohortBy University Relations
Every co-op term presents its own set of unique challenges and obstacles to overcome, and all are opportunities to grow and develop. For me, adjusting to working from home was a learning process; testing out what worked, finding alternate arrangements and accommodating unexpected changes. I appreciate the patience and understanding that were provided by my supervisors and team.
My advice for co-op students in every setting is to stay connected. Keep up steady communication with your manager by providing regular updates. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request help and take every opportunity to learn from the people around you. Keep looking for those opportunities in your workplaces where your skills and interests intersect with their needs. Working from home can be a blessing when you find yourself spending your days around the people you love, so ensure you make time for yourself and the people you care about.
Whether you’re starting at a new workplace or entering university for the first time, new experiences can be daunting — especially at a time of uncertainty. It will take some time to adjust to the learning curves that appear along the way. But it is all part of the process and you will eventually find a good, steady routine that works best for you so long as you persevere.
My piece advice for incoming students or current co-op students about to embark on the work from home environment is to have an open mind. Welcome every new problem as a solution to be found, and every new opportunity as a learning experience. Lastly, try to make connections with colleagues and classmates virtually. Even during a pandemic, time does go by fast and you may miss the overall experience if you don’t immerse yourself in the moment. Be kind to yourself and everyone in your work environment — and remember that they are there to support you.
Patience and flexibility. Those have been the two values that have helped me during my co-op term. Patience is highly appreciated during this term, as everyone is trying to navigate their own unique situations and some days, you need someone’s patience as much as they need yours. Flexibility played a huge role this term because as the pandemic evolved, companies are evolving with it. A lot has changed from the beginning of the term to the end, so it’s essential that you roll with the punches!
One piece of advice that I’d like to share with co-op students is, that the term gets easier as you start to let go of those expectations of what a co-op term should look like. This term has been nothing like a typical co-op term and that’s been part of the fun of participating in a remote experience.
This co-op term was a wild ride! It was hard to have any expectations for working remotely, but that was definitely not a bad thing. One key element I learned was that maintaining a good work environment makes all the difference. I dedicated a space in my home to working and I immediately associated this space with getting my work tasks done. I also learned that having a healthy sleep schedule really motivated me and kept me energized throughout the day.
One piece of advice I’d offer to co-op students working from home is to keep the lines of communication open with your supervisor. They’ve had some months of experience working from home, so let them know if you have any challenges. They will understand more than anyone else and are there to help you develop your skills.
I really didn’t know what to expect as a co-op student working from home, but I’m glad I got to do it. I thought it would be weird, not being in the office and seeing everyone in person, but meeting virtually was a pretty good substitute. Sometimes it was actually easier to concentrate on projects, without the usual workplace distractions.
My advice for co-op students working from home? It’s really the same as working in any other setting. Get to know your team and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Each morning, plan your day by prioritizing tasks, and reward yourself when you complete them. Working from home, you have more reward options — like having more time to spend on some of your favourite hobbies outside of work hours.
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The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is centralized within our Office of Indigenous Relations.