Exploring Your Career Options Through Co-op

Exploring Your Career Options Through Co-op

By: Abbas Virji | Special Projects Assistant
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Career exploration is a lifelong journey. You are likely to be exploring new fields you may not know exist, and you may find yourself switching occupations quite a few times (which is perfectly acceptable). If there’s one thing to do with regards to your career exploration, it would be to start now.

If you’re wondering where you can start career exploration at school, you can certainly use sites such as Career Cruising and WorkBC to find work opportunities in your field. However, you don’t want to overlook SFU’s robust Co-operative Education (Co-op) Program. There are a lot of reasons you should consider a Co-op term, and the best reason is career exploration.

Why is that? Well, Co-op is not limited to one type of job for every student. Many jobs vary in scope as much as a department like Communication varies in classes – there is a very large selection. Even if your field of interest is broad, doing multiple terms allows you to get a ‘taste’ of different aspects of the field and possible options, which could be useful to do if you end up not liking the field that you always wanted to dive into. You can also do these multiple terms with alternating academic semesters, so useful career exploration won’t hold you back from graduating in a timely manner.

Doing a Co-op term also allows you to learn more about your interests, skills and so much more, which can make you better understand who you are and what you find important when exploring careers. You’re learning about yourself and the world of work by ‘doing’ a term – the work you do can allow you to explore career options that are similar in nature, and also make you more aware of what you enjoy doing.

Another reason career exploration through Co-op is highly beneficial is because of the connections you make. Your connections become professional connections, and you could also find a valuable mentor, who could support you in further career exploration. Doing multiple terms also allows you to broaden your network, and explore other possible careers that people you network with are in.

Two other great things about Co-op with regards to career exploration is that you’re earning instead of paying to be at school, but more importantly, you get to directly apply what you learn from your classes into your work term. Think of a SIAT student using HTML5 code to create a website from the ground up, or an archaeologist using carbon dating in the field to figure out the age of an object. Most of the things you learn in school will be applied hands-on, and you can figure out what you like the most (or least), which will enable you to explore careers more geared toward your strengths and interests.

Finally, with co-op, not only do you get to explore different career options, you also are working in a real environment, with real results. You get to see your strengths and weaknesses in working with others or things you can improve on, and you also have real things to show for your work afterward.

So there you have it, Co-op and its merits with respect to career exploration. If your department has a Co-op Program, don’t delay and start today. Most programs require you to have less than 90 credits, so you better get on it! Enjoy exploring what you think is your favourite field, career, work setting – life is too short to have regrets.

Beyond the Article

  • Check out Communiquè, a Communication Co-op blog where students who have done work terms share their valuable advice

*Lead image: creative-commons licensed photo by Kevin Dooley 

Posted on November 29, 2013