4 Tips to Balance Co-op and School

4 Tips to Balance Co-op and School

By: Aninditha Kamaruddin
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We university students have a lot on our plate. From my four years at SFU, I can say that the perception that millennials are lazy just doesn’t hold. We actually want it all– good grades, a life and experience to get us job market ready. This is why Co-op is so great! Co-op complements your degree and may bring additional insight to your studies (good grades: check!), you actually have a life after work, instead of having to worry about homework (have a life– check!), and gives you valuable job training for life after university (job-market ready– check!).

As an International Student, I was beyond excited to get Canadian work experience; mine happened to be at a custom suit company. But at the back of my head, I knew I had a few classes left and didn’t want to delay my graduation for too long. Fortunately, the offer I received was for a part-time co-op, so I was allowed to take a class and divided my time between being a student and employee. It worked out great!

Keep in mind, the needs and nature of every company is different. But once you get the green light, here are a few tips on how to juggle school and a Co-op job.


 1. Plan & Stick to a Schedule

Upon accepting your job, make sure you’re clear about the demands of work so you can determine if school is really the best idea. If yes, write down all your deadlines for school and work for the entire Co-op semester and follow through with it on a calendar. Time management is crucial! For instance, ask your employer if there are any specific times you may be required to work for longer hours (for reasons such as preparing for a big event / busy season). If it coincides with midterm or finals, make sure to start studying earlier.


 2. Be Communicative & Accountable

It’s important to be clear about what your role is and how much workload the job entails. Tell your employer the maximum number of hours you can work per week and determine how to allocate your time accordingly.

For example, foreseeing the business of finals season, I made sure to book time off early on and do my work in advance. If that’s not possible, make sure you do whatever it is to get the work done that meets the employer’s standard– be it working overtime or asking a coworker to help out. Reach out to those around you– it definitely helps that I was part of such a supportive team.


 3. Be Professional

When you are at work, you are an employee and not a student. Always maintain professionalism and since you are on company time, be 100% present. Prioritize and realize some weekends you might not be able to enjoy the sun in Stanley Park, and that’s okay, because you have valuable experience under your belt!


 4. Don’t Overwhelm Yourself

Doing several important things at once is a real juggling act, but don’t drop the ball! It can be stressful at times, but with proper planning and real understanding of your own limits, all you need is the belief you can do it. It will help to designate days to focus solely on just school work as well as days off to relax and enjoy yourself. Don’t get burnt out! Regular check-ins with yourself is key.


Beyond the Article 

Posted on June 02, 2016