How to “Buckle up your Elbows” and Thrive at your Co-op: Tips from an Israeli in her First Co-op

How to “Buckle up your Elbows” and Thrive at your Co-op: Tips from an Israeli in her First Co-op

By: Kim Bassan
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I was just a first-year SFU student and a new citizen of Canada, relocated from Israel to Vancouver two years prior, with lots of dreams, hopes and motivation to succeed. So, when my friend told me that her Co-op position was opening, my eyes sparkled up with ideas, even though I was a first-year student and not in Co-op yet. There's a phrase in Israel, "buckle up your elbows" which means that it's time to hustle. This is exactly what brought me to the place where I’m writing to you right now.

I decided not to wait for the opportunity or the “right” time. I made my way to the Co-op office and said "Hi, I'm Kim and I want to apply for this position.” I had no appointment, hadn't done the Co-op program process; it was just me and my elbows making our path towards success. Don't wait for the opportunity to come to you, but lift your elbows and hustle, make your way to success. Here are some tips that helped me achieve it.


Work for self-growth:
Many of us work for the money, work for a living, but I say live to live! We spend an average of 40 hours a week at work, so we might as well enjoy this time. Be excited to learn new skills, explore and expand yourself. Come with a mindset of improving and growing your skills. Consider that you’re not just working for your boss – you’re working for yourself!

When you don’t know an answer, ask Google your questions. Master the art of self-study to learn what you need to know for your job, even if it is not in the scope of your job description. I used Linkedin Learning, YouTube and WikiHow for anything I was unsure of or when I wanted to develop a new skill. These extra skills and knowledge will give you an advantage once you’re out in the industry, so, buckle up your elbows and make your path for self-growth.

Open Communication:
As a Communication major, it’s obvious I’m going to emphasize that communication is important, but open communication has really benefited me in so many ways. Communicate with your supervisor, Co-op Coordinator, colleagues and others you can gain value from. We all have different ideas, opinions and approaches and every conversation is an opportunity to learn, to see something from a different point of view. So, don’t be shy to speak up. In fact, for me, it was the other way around -- every time I spoke up, I was encouraged and acknowledged for my vulnerability and open communication.

Take feedback as an opportunity to improve:
At first, when my supervisor asked me how I prefer receiving feedback, I didn’t understand what he meant, and suggested he be direct. But many of us can tend to take feedback personally and get offended as if it was a personal conflict. Let’s re-define feedback vs. conflict. Feedback is an opportunity for you to reflect, evaluate, learn and grow! Make sure you learn how you want to receive feedback so it will be helpful to you. I learned that I need to be acknowledged for the work that I did, and hear the positive points followed by the areas to improve on. So, as a part of our mission to work for self-growth, seek feedback and listen to different opinions. Feedback is never a failure, always an opportunity to learn!

Last but not least, to keep your elbows high and thrive, you need to take care of yourself. You can't pour from an empty cup (that's the yogi side of me speaking). I know it can be hard to stop and take a break from the hamster wheel, but, we spend so much time at work, expending mental and physical energy, that we need to make sure we rejuvenate. Have a non-work related chat, socialize, take a walk, give yourself credit, moisturize your elbows, volunteer, journal, breathe - do whatever fills your soul!

 All in all, the experience of being an Israeli in my first Co-op was insightful and valuable. I'm grateful for my elbows that encouraged me to step into this journey and learn the skills and knowledge that I couldn't learn in books or lectures. So, buckle up your elbows and go for it!

Beyond the Artticle:

Posted on March 16, 2020