Do You Have What it Takes to Work for Multiple People?

Do You Have What it Takes to Work for Multiple People?

By: Kristine Wu | Communication Co-op Student
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For my second co-op, I was hired as the Special Projects Assistant for the Science, Environment and Health Sciences department - right here at SFU! At first I was very intimidated going into this job, but I was also very excited. After all, I did not want to settle for a job I felt entirely experienced for.  I wanted to challenge myself, and working for six people who each have different ideas and opinions is certainly a challenge in itself! Working for multiple people may sound daunting, but the experience has taught me some very valuable skills. Here are the three I found were the most important to utilize when working for many people at once:

 

Sample schedule
A sample schedule of a week in the life of a Special Projects Assistant.

1) Time Management

I have always kept an agenda to keep track of meetings, deadlines, etc., but this job took it to a whole new level. Juggling projects and in-person meetings between the coordinators took some time adapting to, and I had to try a few different ways to keep everything organized. At first I used my agenda, but everyone’s schedules were always changing and needed to be updated constantly. Then I tried a daily “To-Do” list that I checked off at the end of the day, but the same problems persisted. I needed something more efficient, so I transferred to a digital format. I now have a personal master project list and a weekly calendar on an Excel spreadsheet that can be easily updated and accessed. By doing so, I am able to thoroughly plan out what needs to be done in advance so that I don’t waste time trying to figure out what needs to be done on a day-to-day basis.

 

2) Acceptance

Once during my work term, I made a few typos on a poster that was to be published and posted for everyone to see in a heavily trafficked hallway. After the mistakes came to light, I was very disappointed in myself. The coordinator trusted me, and I have a keen eye for details, but I still made the mistake! After that, I started triple or quadruple checking all my final work. But making mistakes is a part of the learning process. If you make a mistake, accept it and move on. What’s done is done, but make sure you reflect on what went wrong, what you could have done better, and what you want to keep in mind in for future reference.

 

Co-op Staff Poster
Communication is key when working for many coordinators!

3) Communication 

The coordinators were always very busy, so at times it was hard to reach them to receive feedback on my projects. It took initiative and persistence to “pursue” my coordinators in order to make certain we were on the same page, understood each other’s concerns, and that I was able to achieve their deadlines. In fact, the coordinators really appreciated that I was constantly checking in with them! Communication is key. Believe it or not, it also took a lot of courage for me to honestly say “no more” to new projects when I already had so much on my plate. But by doing so, I found that I was able to put more time and 100% of my effort into the projects. Remember, quality over quantity!

 

I could go on and on about everything else I learned or improved, but I think these three things were what I really took away from the experience. The work term just flew by; I learned so much in only 4 months! And that’s why I’m glad I got to work for so many people – I had six times the opportunity to grow!

 


Beyond the Article:

  • Connect with Kristine on LinkedIn.
  • There's so much to learn by doing a Co-op right here at SFU! Check out what Sam and Nicole had to say about their own experiences working for the university.
  • Looking for even more great time management advice? This tip sheet by Kelly will have you covered!
Posted on October 31, 2014