My Co-op Experience: Be Open to the Unfamiliar

My Co-op Experience: Be Open to the Unfamiliar

By: Jeanie Luu
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Are you having a hard time landing that ideal Co-op job? But, what is ideal? Explore Jeanie’s experience this summer at the YWCA Health + Fitness Centre.  She shares her experience about how a job description might not stand out at first, but can lead to a stand-out placement.

While job seeking for Co-op, I had my mind set on specific postings and that led me to sending out only a couple of applications over the first half of the semester. This summer, I had the chance to work for the YWCA Health + Fitness Centre, somewhere I was unfamiliar with prior to Co-op and a position I had overlooked while scrolling through Symplicity.

The YWCA Health + Fitness Centre is a co-ed facility and part of YWCA Metro Vancouver, a non-profit organization with employment, childcare and housing support services for women and their families. There are a variety of lifelines that keep this non-profit running. Knowing that the Health + Fitness Centre contributes to the longevity of the YWCA in Vancouver really added to my own job satisfaction.

Like every new environment, it takes some time to learn your role. The entire team was beyond supportive, helping me easily transition from lecture hall to full-time work. My position as the "H+F Assistant" immersed me into the world of fitness, whether it be interacting with the wonderful members, instructors and coaches or implementing a circuit that I learned to plan for a group fitness class.  Occasionally, some members were wondering what role I played because I was able to be a part of a variety of things, from corporate events to the front-desk.

I was encouraged to participate in as many group fitness classes as I could. I stepped into each class excited to see what different instructors offered from a burpee-filled Bootcamp to a lively DanceFit class. My heart rate fluctuated and muscles sung alongside other dedicated group fitness goers.  Evidently, the YWCA values work-life balance and exercise has contributed to my own balancing act.  It was an additional bonus to be able to use what I was learning in my online exercise course that I took at the same time (“These type of intervals are working my muscular power!”).  Getting additionally certified alongside my degree is on my list of pursuits.

Every day, I was actively involved in making the YWCA H+F Centre a member-oriented environment.  To be a part of the weekly team meetings allowed me to put together the pieces that I was uncovering about how large businesses in this industry operate and innovate.  I was able to see organizational concepts like workplace health and safety, organizational structure (explored in BPK 381: Psychology of Work) unfold and realized the importance of marketing, member recruitment and retention at a business standpoint. 

The most invaluable thing that I take away from this Co-op term would be how pivotal communication is.  The simple act of engaging with other people, following up on a story that someone cared to share or exchanging a smile, can add to your day.  I was able to share my current projects, curiosities and concerns with the team and by asking questions and being open to feedback, it helped me grow and confidently make decisions when executing my own projects. 

Four months later, I'm grateful to have sent out those extra applications that I initially looked past when only focusing on jobs that seemed directly related to my studies in Occupational Ergonomics or my interest in rehabilitation.  Being open to new experiences whether through your job search or other domains of your life can open up possibilities to cultivate your skills, discover new places and learn from people that you wouldn’t have, unless you tried.

*Lead Image from YWCA H+F Facebook page.

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Posted on August 27, 2014