The lamentation of a co-op student’s failed speaker gig

As though public speaking couldn’t get any worse, people were then forced to do it over Zoom

PHOTO: Maksym Zakharyak / Unsplash

By: Subaig Bindra, SFU Student

My co-op coordinator invited me to address a group of students on their orientation. I barely had any clue about what to say, only writing some lines a few minutes before the Zoom call.

Me (nervous but hiding it very well)

Hello all, I am Subaig. My pronouns are he/him. Can you all hear me? Give me a thumbs up if you can! 

Here lies the most excruciatingly painful bout of silence with one student holding in a laugh as they gave a thumbs-up out of pity. Good start.

My coordinator invited me to address this group that is about to start the same journey as I did in September 2019. Thank you for having me here. I work as a web developer in a telematics company and I’m in the second co-op term with my employer. I didn’t work a lot on the speech, as you can see I’m at work right now.

I pointed to my shirt. Well, yeah, obviously, but I mean my work shirt. I hope you didn’t think I was that ill-prepared that I had to point that out, but if you did . . . 

I don’t really blame you.

From personal experience, getting what you want only depends on how you carry yourself. What I mean is that you will only get what you want if you do what is a prerequisite, and this is a general idea of looking at things, not just landing a co-op. Now since I’m invited here and we’re doing all this, it’s easier said than done. To my understanding, each of us has to find our ways to make things work. For a practical example, oftentimes I maintain this sheet of paper. 

I pointed to a slip before the webcam.

This is a 5 by 3-inch piece of paper and is actually the back of a Revenue services BC slip. Not that I don’t want to pay my bills, I just do it online! 

At this point, one attendee rolled their eyes so intensely I could almost hear it! I knew that walking into the applied sciences co-op office would never be the same again. Only hoping the pandemic would wash away their memory of today. Regardless, I continued . . .

On this sheet, I have a to-do list for a web developer. 

I read out some examples that went like “refactor code,” “fix horizontal alignment,” and “put enhanceVerify() in js file” and I have a sinking feeling that about five participants muted their laptops.

From the bottom, I got a to-do list for ordinary stuff that I must keep doing to carry me in our strange world. 

Again I read out some examples like “Schedule meeting – (My manager’s name),” “speaker gig prepare,” and “REPLY MONICA.” Now their faces looked like I had casually asked each of them for one of their two kidneys. I was flushed, sensing that the bold sense of humour might have been too much to handle. I think “Speaker gig prepare” got them more than “REPLY MONICA!” as I was presently at the event! Sorry for the shoutout, Monica.

Worth noticing is the little ticks at the end of some tasks! You see, “REPLY MONICA” is not ticked yet, but it’s Friday and I’m gonna be doing that soon! My goal is to make existence valuable, if you have a goal then good luck with fulfilling it! And lastly, no, I’m not gonna say thanks for coming to my TedTalk. 

Right after the last line, I had put a note for myself that said “Try not to laugh while speaking” and as was predicted, I tried very hard to hold my tears in that moment (maybe for more reasons than one).

After I was finished, my coordinator looked flustered as she tried to convince the newbies that I had all the good qualities employers looked for, using all the good words she could come up with. As for me, I was silent, awkwardly awaiting the end so I could go take a nap. 

For  judgement day, I received a thank you email from her for my “inspirational speech on the co-op orientation.” Even more striking was that she thinks I’m good for more public speaking! She was just being nice, I guess.