Real Talk: Is An International Co-op Worth It?

Real Talk: Is An International Co-op Worth It?

By: Gursahib Gill
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Imagine exploring the world, experiencing new cultures, meeting new people, tasting new cuisine – seems like a dream come true! However, for the majority of students, daydreaming about traveling is all that is feasible, especially between studying, projects, exams and not to mention, the enormous cost that comes attached to international travel.

Don’t you wish there was an opportunity where you could travel and experience the culture of a different country, albeit for a short period of time, while also making some money? SFU’s International Co-op Program offers its student just that chance!

The question is not only what you can do with an international co-op, but also what an international co-op can do for you!

What Will I Gain From This Opportunity?

Aside from providing you with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live and work in a different country, the International Co-op Program has a number of other benefits:

Professional Development

International Co-op is a great opportunity for you to work on professional development and add work experience to your resume. Below is a list of a few benefits from participating in an International Co-op work-term:

  • Expand your network and gain more worldly connections
  • Cultivate the willingness and ability to adapt to different environments and their ever-changing needs
  • Receive hands-on experience in a field you are interested in
  • Trial job opportunities to experiment within different fields
  • Gain understanding on how an industry works from a different cultural perspective

Personal Development

As cliché as it sounds, International Co-op is a great opportunity for you to work on self-reflection and personal growth. It pushes you into an unfamiliar and challenging situation wherein you must learn to adapt. Below are a few of the many takeaways of participating in an International Co-op work-term: 

  • Exploring the world
    • Traveling to different countries/regions/cities
  • Learning to work with different personality types
  • Meeting new people
  • Learning the customs and behaviours of your host country
    • Embracing cultural differences
    • Understanding cultural nuances
  • Learning a new language
  • Gaining independence and taking on enhanced responsibilities
  • Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable
    • Learning to step outside your comfort zone to challenge yourself to do things you otherwise would not
  • Gaining respect for another culture/way-of-life

How To Apply

There is no reason to be intimidated to apply to the International Co-op Program, it is quite simple and straight-forward:

  1. Apply to the Co-op program.
  2. Complete the necessary workshops.
  3. Get access to job postings (for the semester you are interested in).
  4. Apply through MyExperience.
  5. Utilize the resources offered at SFU:
    • International Co-op Coordinator
    • Co-op Coordinators
    • OLC Blogs
    • Info Sessions
  6. Once you have successfully secured an international job position, complete the Bridging International Learning course on Canvas.

Bridging International Learning (BIL)

The purpose of BIL is to:

  • Help students prepare with pre-departure formalities (e.g. required forms, passports and visas, insurance).
  • Help students adapt to a new environment and successfully transition into the workplace.
  • Providing support to students throughout the entirety of their work-term.
  • Supporting students’ growth throughout their work-term.
  • Supporting students upon arrival back to SFU.

Is It Worth It?

In short, yes! However, you do not need to take my word for it. Click here to see past students reflect on their International Co-op experiences.

Photo Source: Mik Ho (Korea)

Beyond the Article

Posted on March 03, 2020