Find your Voice: Insights into Designing your Co-op

Find your Voice: Insights into Designing your Co-op

By: Jared Chiu
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This past semester, I had the pleasure of working at The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) as a Human Resources co-op student. My primary role during this co-op was to assist with the learning and development side of our training programs. However, as my role grew, I was given the additional responsibility of helping redesign the training program. Now, this came as a surprise to me, as I was only expecting to assist in the CDRD's administrative processes, but with some guidance, I was able to champion this project and tackle challenges along the way.

Coordinating recruitment and supporting new staff was an extremely rewarding aspect of my job. However, wanting to bring something new to the table, I was excited to learn more.  I began researching recruitment and training practices and stumbled upon a web article that discussed recruitment metrics, such as the right times to fiil and hire new employees. Intrigued, I decided to research similar issues with a goal of streamlining how hiring metrics are tracked by the HR unit at the CDRD. Upon further research, I found different tools which could help. From AI that screens job descriptions for unconscious bias to massive Business Intelligence tools that streamline HR decision-making, there are countless tools that assist businesses to hire and train employees. The experience showed me that there is always an opportunity to challenge yourself and go beyond the job description. 

If you are a student strating out in your career, you may find yourself in a similar situation so here are three insights that I gained during my time which helped me design my own co-op experience:

Insight 1: Find Your Voice

It can definitely be a daunting to bring up a new idea or proposal to a manager or other authority figure. Therefore, one way to find confidence in yourself is to be prepared with a thorough understanding of the issues you want to bring up and possible solutions you want to propose. This way, you will be able to articulate yourself in a concise manner and advocate for your proposal in the best way possible.

Insight 2: Find Your Team

Researching, learning and discovering new information is all great, but having one perspective on the subject matter might not be enough. You might be biased and thus, miss flaws in your idea. I would encourage you to reach out to fellow co-op students, or others in your circle, such as your co-workers or peers, to bounce ideas off of before bringing them to your manager. This way, you will already have a wide array of perspectives and opinions to help evaluate whether or not your idea is a good one.

Insight 3: Find Your Champion

It is never easy to share a new and untested idea, however, a champion is someone, such as your manager or supervisor, who can provide you with the moral support essential to initiate change. To demonstrate this, I want to draw a parallel to the video ‘Leadership lesson from Dancing Guy’. In the video, you will watch man begin to dance followed by one bystander joining in.  The video ends with a message about how the first leader started a movement only with the help of the second bystander; so in this situation, the second bystander was a champion for the first. He demonstrated to the rest of the bystanders that “dancing guy’s” idea to dance, was, in fact, not absurd or crazy, which eventually led to a group dance off! So, find yourself a champion and your ideas may not seem as far-fetched either.

While being the architect of your co-op is an incredible experience, be forewarned that it’s not for every job.  Some positions’ responsibilities may not afford you the freedom to explore to such an extent, so it is advisable to really understand the organization, your manager's expectations and the limits of your role before taking on a new project.

Overall, the past four months have been an amazing journey and I would like to thank the  Vice President of People and Culture at the CDRD, as well as my fellow co-op students for a chance to experiment and develop the training program. For the readers, thank you for spending some time reading this blog post and I hope you find it useful in your future endeavours.

Beyond the Article

Posted on March 23, 2018