Surprising Yourself: How Keeping an Open Mind is One of the Best Things You Can Do as a Young Professional

September 14, 2021

By Emilia Prosperi-Porta

If I could give one piece of advice to any young person starting out their University career or their first ‘big kid’ job, it would be this: always keep an open mind.

I’m sure I’m not all that original in my story. As a scrappy 18 year old entering into my first year of post secondary education (originally across the country at Queen’s University), I had it all mapped out for myself. I wanted to major in economics, and then work in Fashion.

Well… nearly six years later, I do not have a degree in economics (I’m shockingly bad at math), and though I still love fashion and clothing, I am working in an industry I never would have considered for myself; software and technology. And, spoiler alert: I love my job! But the journey here wasn’t linear.

Simon Fraser has been an excellent school for me, but admittedly, when I transferred home to Vancouver from a school that had been known for its social aspects and student ghetto, I was nervous about enrolling in a school that had a ‘commuter school’ reputation. ‘Keep an open mind.’ I remember telling myself when driving to my first day of classes. Choosing to transfer to SFU ended up being an amazing decision for me. I loved my classes, I made friends with very nice classmates, and I joined the co op program. I was in a program I loved, and I completed two co-op work terms in industries that felt suited to me.

Jumping forward to January; though I was extremely grateful to land a co-op position during a time when job security is uncertain, and thousands of young professionals are struggling, I was unsure about my new role in the weeks leading up to my first day. To be fully transparent, I was nervous that I wouldn’t enjoy the position, because technology did not especially interest me.

However; I pride myself on at least trying to do everything with a positive attitude and the previously mentioned  open mind. I went into my first day thinking ‘You never know what might come of this experience.’

After just two weeks in my position, I knew I had never felt so glad to have applied that mindset, and more relieved that my initial reservations never manifested themselves. Not only did I surprise myself by how interesting I found software and technology, I also have never been bored for one minute at my job. There are so many different tasks that keep me busy, I have learned so many new skills, and have met an incredible group of colleagues that I get to work with everyday.

Now in the present day, I am just finishing my last co-op semester at SFU, working for Safe Software, and I am just about to begin another term working for them. Much like if I had decided against SFU because of a preconceived notion; if I had turned down this position because technology didn’t align with the career I had envisioned for myself, I would have missed out on an incredible opportunity that I have grown so much in.

My advice to any young co-op, or young person, really, is this. Try new things, take jobs that may appear uncharacteristic, try not to have an ego, and keep an open mind. Have your aspirations, and make your big plans. That’s what life and growing up is all about. However, don’t be afraid to let life plan back a little bit along the way, and adjust your dreams as you’re living them. You just might surprise yourself.