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4 lessons I learned from working at SFU

January 24, 2022

By Ayomide Gbadamosi

When I first applied to the communication co-op program, I did not think that I would be working at SFU. I initially found it weird to work for my university and I wanted a different experience from being on campus.

But the world works in mysterious ways. With businesses closing down and downsizing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was extremely hard for co-op students to land a placement. I was one of the lucky ones, and I landed my first co-op in April 2020 at SFU Career and Volunteer Services.

I decided to look on the bright side of things. I was grateful to have landed a job no matter where it was, and I was determined to make it a positive experience. I threw out all my previous conceptions of working at SFU and gave it my all. Over a year later, I can proudly say that working at SFU is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

For my second co-op placement, I interviewed at about 10 different places including organizations in the finance and tech sector, but I ultimately decided to work at SFU again because I had such a great experience the first time around. I eventually accepted a position in April 2021 with SFU Marketing and Communications as a Communications Assistant.

Working at SFU taught me a lot of valuable lessons:

Lesson 1: Don’t be afraid to try something new

The biggest mistake you can make as a co-op student is being close-minded. I know that as students we have a lot of goals and expectations for where we want to work but the truth is that life doesn’t always work out in the way we want. As students we should be adventurous, curious and always willing to try new things. You never know where these new experiences will take you.

Lesson 2: It’s okay to not know what you want

When I started my first co-op term at SFU all my ideas and goals for the future flew out the window. I suddenly found myself in a space where I didn’t know what I wanted to do after graduation. As students we have this pressure to have everything figured out but working at SFU taught me that it is okay not knowing what you want. The entire concept of university and co-op is to try and explore new things and see how much you like them. Chill out.

Lesson 3: It’s fine to reach out for help if you don’t know what to do

When I first started my co-op I was scared of being a failure or disappointment to those who had hired me, and I felt like I needed to be perfect. Working at SFU showed me that co-op is a learning experience. It showed me that it is okay to reach out for help if you’re stuck. The entire premise of the co-op program is to gain experience and learn new skills, so don’t feel like you need to be perfect at your job or know everything straightaway. Like my supervisor once said: “Don’t worry if it is difficult for you. It was also hard for me when I first started.”

Lesson 4: Being a student doesn’t make your ideas less valuable

One thing I love the most about working at SFU is that my ideas are always appreciated. My ideas are not ignored because I am a student or because I don’t have much experience. I was always encouraged to speak up and give my feedback during meetings. It made me have confidence in myself and my thoughts and I learnt that being a student doesn’t make my ideas less valuable.

I hope that these lessons are as valuable to you as they are to me. Working at SFU has been such an amazing experience. The work environment is so warm and welcoming and there is always space for you to grow. So, don’t rule out working at SFU!