B.A. Combined Hons., English and French, February 2016
Bryanne claims that she knew she would take co-op even before she had chosen her majors. She volunteered as a Co-op and Career Student leader in the fall of 2013. Following two co-op work terms at the Canada Revenue Agency, she won the prestigious CU Co-op Student of the Year Award. In the summer of 2014 Bryanne completed her fourth co-op placement with the Department of Public Safety. She is currently pursuing an MA, International Affairs, at Carleton University.
CO-OP LETS YOU “TRY ON” POSSIBLE CAREERS
September 28, 2012
Hi everyone! I hope you are all enjoying your classes so far. As many of you like to think about the future, I imagine you’ve already been daydreaming about that mansion you want to buy in ten years’ time. Some of you have probably already decided which car you are going to buy when you finally graduate (you definitely owe yourself a congratulatory gift). Or maybe you are just trying to get through the next couple of years free of stress. And that’s great. But do you have any idea what you want to do with the rest of your life? — And, if you do have an idea, have you put it to the test?
HOW I GOT HERE
Co-op has been an enormous part of my life since high school. In grade eleven, I felt compelled to take it — not only because it seemed like an extremely simple way to get great grades for the equivalent of two credits, but I was craving the opportunity to pursue my “dream job.”
I decided I wanted to be an elementary school teacher when I was in grade six. I was in awe of some of my own teachers and wanted to take over my daycare as the “play teacher.” I made homework for all my “students” (the poor souls I got babysat with), bossed them around, and found joy in marking their work (math, English, and science) with crayons and stickers. I felt so powerful. And at the age of twelve, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life!
I was wrong.
How could any twelve-year-old possibly know what she wants to do for the rest of her life? I told friends, teachers, colleagues, and guidance counsellors that teaching was my future. I imagined the kids, the summer vacations, and the perks of having my own giant chalk board. However, it wasn’t until my co-op experience in high school that I got the opportunity to actually test out the daily life of an elementary school teacher. And it’s through this experience that I learned that teaching is no longer part of my life plan.
My experience then, much like it is now, was fantastic. It was eye-opening and network-expanding. I was lucky to work with a phenomenal French-immersion teacher for a grade three-four split class. Five days a week I spent my afternoons working with students and watching them grow. I loved every second of it and learned that if I did pursue teaching, I would want to be exactly like the teacher I assisted. I loved co-op, and by the end of high school, that affection earned me the co-op award for the highest marks that year.
Knowing what a great experience co-op had been in high school, I immediately registered for co-op coming into university.
During my second year, I volunteered for the same teacher I assisted in high school. The teacher was still phenomenal, the kids were still cute, the chalk board still existed, but something had changed. I was no longer as excited to go into school every day, and I realized my attitude toward teaching had changed. The day finally arrived when I had to be honest with myself and come to terms with the fact that I no longer saw myself as a teacher.
I try to remind people, especially people my age, that we all change. These are the years we grow the most, change the most, and sometimes experience the most. It’s also the time when we’re allowed to change our minds, over and over again.
It happened to me after my first year of university. I thought I wanted to graduate with a B.A. Honours in Communication Studies, but I was wrong again. Although I have friends who love it, Communication Studies was not what I thought it would be. I quickly realized that the classes I looked forward to the most were my English classes (here I could read and dissect literature to my heart’s content). I changed majors that summer and I am currently (and very happily) majoring in English Literature and French Linguistics. A change I am so happy I made!
THE CO-OP EXPERIENCE
Now in my third year of university at Carleton, I’m participating in co-op for English and loving it so far. This was an amazing decision for me. The co-op process was extremely simple. It consists of a couple of online classes that can be taken in your own home, dressed in pajamas, while sipping coffee. I put aside about an hour a week to listen to the information and answer mini quizzes. There were only a couple of main assignments, a resume, and research on potential companies I thought I’d like to work for. Both assignments were extremely helpful. The resume assignment and course allowed me to develop an excellent resume that I can use in my future endeavours, and the company assignment was a fantastic way to begin choosing jobs to apply for.
Once the classes were over, the application and interview process came and went quickly. Jobs that apply to my studies got posted on my co-op page. I then had the opportunity to read through the job description and company information, and decide which places I wanted to work for. The co-op office is really helpful and worked with me to develop cover letters for the jobs I chose to apply to.
My first choice was a job with the Canada Revenue Agency as a Technical Editor and Program Coordinator. Although I applied for a couple other jobs, this one seemed to stand out to me. I was really fortunate to get an interview with the Agency, and within a few hours I was offered a position. I will be working here for the next eight months.
So far the experience has been fantastic. This opportunity has given me a different perspective on the career possibilities that are out there for me. This atmosphere seems better suited for me than the school atmosphere ever did. I have my own cubicle, I have joined the coffee club, and I have already volunteered to get involved in a couple events for the Agency. As far as the work goes, I have only had one major assignment so far and it has been a really good experience. As an editor, I am in charge of ensuring that all the documents that will be posted on the CRA Intranet are well formatted, follow the CRA template, and are grammatically correct. As the process continues, and as more documents are assigned to me, I will be sure to share my experiences with all of you.
To wrap things up, I would like to say that an ideal career is like a pair of shoes; any opportunity to “try on” your potential future career “before purchasing” is a good opportunity. What we might think looks great on the shelf, might not fit us as well as we thought. Whether you decide to participate in co-op or experience a potential career by volunteering, or working part time, I strongly encourage you to test jobs out before making up your mind about the future.
A lot of the decisions we are making right now are for those careers and goals we hope to pursue, and those goals may not suit us as well as we think. We all change our minds (and that’s ok), but it is so much better to find out now what we do (or don’t) want to do for the rest of our lives. “Trying on” different careers help us narrow the choices, and determine what we want to be when we finally “grow up.”