I am fortunate enough to be studying at one of the top co-op universities in the world- I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a feel of the ‘real world’, of what life will be after university and how this helps you really figure out what you want. I am currently pursuing my second co-op semester and I can truly say that all experience is good experience, and you’re bound to learn no matter what.
I would like to share some of my top co-op learning outcomes:
What you see isn't what you always get.
What you do in class is certainly not what you’ll be doing on the job. The stark contrast between the expectation and reality of the job is quite shocking. I realized that while you may enjoy certain concepts in the classroom, you might not like the application of these concepts on the job. Essentially, co-op teaches you to apply the class-room concepts to achieve an outcome – it’s nice to see how your learning can translate in to a real-world product.
Being a grown up is exciting but kinda tough.
I am lucky enough to have had the whole co-op, grown-up experience. Living the downtown Toronto ‘glamorous’ life in a tiny apartment, balancing the demands of work, socializing and trying to feed yourself. It certainly will NOT be as easy as you thought. I must say though, I emerge from each co-op semester as a more independent and put-together adult (at least I think I do).
It’s funny cause co-op gives you the pleasure of getting a break between school and work. Just when you’re fed-up of all the mid-terms and finals, you’re back at work. And when you’re finally exhausted of your 9-5 days, you realize how much you miss school, and you’re back to 3 a.m. nights at SLC.
What I DON'T want.
I certainly don’t want to be working 12 hours a day if it isn’t something I am truly passionate about. I am on a mission to find the job that I could be at 24/7 – and if that means doing WaterlooWorks 4 times, then so be it. As a student with barely any external obligations and worldly pressures, I need to take advantage of the opportunity to try everything that’s out there and exploit my opportunities.
What I DO want.
Fortunately, I know that I want to work with people like those that I have been so lucky to meet along the way. They are not only my mentors and role-models, but my friends. I would like to encourage everyone to build a great network during their co-op to enjoy going in to work every day- because people really do make all the difference. This network should not only be with other co-ops, but extend to all the extremely educated professionals that are in the workplace with you.
Check out the rest of Qhalisa's Co-op Connection blog here!
Want to read more about Qhalisa's journey? Check out her blog here: qhalisakhan.wordpress.com
You can also read more from other University of Waterloo students here: uwaterloo.ca/beyond-ideas