Every undergrad should do co-op

What co-op has to offer

A man working in an office
PHOTO: Microsoft 365 / Unsplash

By: Saije Rusimovici, Staff Writer

If you’re in your second year of university or older, you’ve probably had speakers come into your lecture hall to do a presentation on co-op at least once in your post-secondary experience. While it’s easy to brush co-op off as extra work or an unnecessary means of extending your degree, I firmly believe that cooperative education is one of the best experiences an undergraduate student can have. Not only is it a chance to gain relative work experience in your field, but it can also open up doors for networking opportunities. 

The co-op program at SFU aims to blend your education with paid employment. To receive a special co-op designation on your diploma when you graduate, you must complete three semesters of work. These work terms are often four months long and are alternated with academic coursework toward your degree. Alternating your work and study semesters allows you the opportunity to grow your portfolio, build valuable professional connections, and make money at the same time. Between study semesters, I worked a full-time position related to my area of study: communication. This helped me look at what kind of jobs I could get with my degree. Co-op can provide you with a paid position, and also opens dialogue around your career trajectory during and after your work experience. 

University courses are great for understanding the theoretical aspects of our area of study, but they don’t always offer practical or hands-on work experience that is necessary to have in a professional setting. Through co-op as a communication and marketing intern, I learned how to cultivate skills like public speaking for a corporate audience, engaging in community conversations and activism, and technical writing outside of academia. 

By taking a chance on co-op, you are taking a chance on yourself. After getting through the application process, you will find yourself excited and eager to take on the experience, wherever your co-op placement may be. You might make a new friend, cultivate a meaningful connection with one of your colleagues, or even explore an unexpected career path. Whatever your work experience brings, you will be pleasantly surprised with the knowledge it leaves you with. 

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