Just Trying It, Strength, and Balance: The Biggest Lessons From My 1st Co-op Term

Just Trying It, Strength, and Balance: The Biggest Lessons From My 1st Co-op Term

By: Emily Lam
  902 reads

Just Try It!

Near the end of my 8-month co-op term, a friend asked about my biggest lesson learned while I was on the job. Thinking back to my time on the marketing team at Kardium Inc., an emerging medical technology company specializing in the treatment of atrial fibrillation (a common heart rhythm disorder), I can’t help but smile at the expansive list of learning opportunities and new experiences I was given. Writing press releases to filming promotional videos of our company and product. Learning how to use WordPress and Premiere Pro to strengthening my communication skills. Back-to-back meetings to company-wide socials and happy hours. I can confidently say that there was never a moment where I wasn’t learning or trying something new. How could I possibly pick just one out of them all?

But then I thought back to the very beginning of my Kardium journey and how unprepared I felt to tackle the job. As I became more comfortable with my projects throughout the weeks, it wasn’t any of these new skills or experiences that stood out to me the most (there will always be new things to learn in life!). It was the mindset I was given an opportunity to develop. The biggest lesson I learned was that it’s not about doing a perfect job or knowing every possible detail before starting a task. All it takes is a willingness to try it yourself first, to ask for help/feedback, and to listen, learn, and incorporate those suggestions into your work.

Emily at work

Constantly, we are exposed to all kinds of beautiful projects and exceptional work - that’s all we see. However, behind every final product is tremendous work, countless iterations, and many hands on deck. As a co-op student, you are put in a situation to learn and experience projects that may be out of your comfort zone. To understand that your work won’t be perfect but still be confident in it enables you to be an effective collaborator and team member no matter where you go. Although I’ll be ending my co-op at Kardium with innumerable renewed skills and experiences, this one, I know, will stay with me for years to come.

Understanding Your Strengths

Most people have been in a situation or have worked with a team that challenges their skill sets. I can definitely say the same about my first co-op placement at Kardium Inc. With a large team of engineers, researchers, software developers and more, the company is packed with smart, hard-working individuals with an intense drive to innovate quality medical solutions.

As a health sciences student just entering her 2nd year, I was hired as a business coop, as part of the marketing team. Although marketing was something I was interested in, I did not have much real experience in it. Beyond that, among all the talented and technical engineers, I definitely felt out of place. There would be times when I had no idea what was being discussed or no idea what to even ask to better understand. In the lunchroom, when conversations turned to topics I was not well versed in, I could participate only on the outskirts. 

One day, as I was asking for some software tips from one of our engineers, we had a chance to talk about some of the marketing projects I was working on. He told me how exciting he thought they were and because he never had any idea what marketing was, he was always interested in that side of the company. Hearing that from an engineer that I looked up to so much gave me a new perspective to think about. It reminded me that we all have our strengths, weaknesses and areas of expertise/talent, and just because we don’t know everything doesn’t mean we know nothing at all.

As a co-op student, it can be so easy to feel intimidated by your much more experienced co-workers and team. Sometimes, it’s about remembering all of your skills and talents instead of thinking about all that you have yet to learn. After all, you wouldn’t have secured your position if you had nothing to contribute!

Balance

I’ve known for years that my time management and work-life balance have not been the most efficient. So as I walk into my first co-op term as part of the marketing team at Kardium Inc., I knew I wanted that to be a goal to work towards. However, I knew I needed a plan if I wanted to achieve this personal goal because, alongside my full-time co-op, I also worked two part-time jobs and was involved with a few clubs and community engagements. While at first, this was definitely a challenge, I was lucky that Kardium’s work culture promoted a lot of this balance that I was aiming for. Here are some of the highlights:

  • With tons of different groups and activities set up for participation in sports and physical activities during lunch breaks and outside of work, I had the opportunity to integrate some of the sports I love in my workday while getting to know my co-workers a little better. Some of the activities I had a chance to participate in included lunchtime soccer games, volleyball, and running groups, to name a few.
  • Our social committee is active year-round with creative socials and company-wide events that brought us all together. I had a chance to celebrate holidays and cultural days with special foods like dumplings for the lunar new year, potlucks with a variety of foods from around the world, hot chocolate socials, company birthday cakes, happy hours and more.

Lunch table

  • As a Kardium employee, I had a lot of flexibility over my work schedule and preferences. I was able to choose my own working hours, complete work from home or structure my day in a way that works for me. Beyond this flexibility matching with my preferred working style, it also showed me how to listen to myself and know when I need to take a break. 

As I leave my 8-month co-op term at Kardium, I’ll be taking with me countless memories and experiences that will help me as I take my next steps in life, but out of them all, I know that ensuring a work-life balance will be the most important one of them all.

Beyond the Article

Posted on January 04, 2021