Before entering my first CO-OP placement, I did not know what to expect. (I tend to freak-out over the unknown.) I imagined myself being overwhelmed with all the tasks and projects that I would be entrusted with. This fear was due in part to the fact that I had never experienced office work before. Having only worked in restaurants and retail stores, I did not feel prepared despite having attended all the necessary workshops and even a few 1-on-1 meetings with the CO‑OP staff.
Living – and fearing – the dream
I was very nervous partly because my first placement was at a very famous organization that I have known since I was very little: the House of Commons of Canada, on Parliament Hill. My whole life I had admired that building. Being from Ottawa, I’ve had the opportunity to go there for field trips, bike rides, and even New Year’s Eve. Getting to work on Parliament Hill was almost a dream come true. However, this made me more anxious, because I knew the standards would be high. I was not sure if I would be able to meet my employer’s expectations or if I would even fit in.
Seeking out support
On the first day, I felt excitement as I walked into this new setting, and I met my employer for the first time since our interview. She was very gracious and showed me around the different buildings. I had a lot of fun and many of my fears started to disappear. However, as work started to come my way, I became completely lost: I did not have a clue. Fortunately, my co-workers were there to help me: step‑by‑step, I started to learn more and more, and after a couple of weeks, I could do everything on my own. I felt silly for being so scared, as I realized that there was nothing to be scared about. At all. Turns out, I was well prepared for my placement, and my colleagues were there to support me along the way.
Taking advantage of the experience… and make connexions
Like for most things, I was scared for no real reason. I had so much fun over the course of my COOP term. There was a great balance between my capabilities and what my employer asked of me. The people I worked with were amazing and introduced me to so many interesting new concepts and ways of thinking. I met so many nice people that I’ve stayed in contact with long after my term has ended. I believe that this was easily the best part of my university experience thus far and I am very excited about my future CO-OP terms.