I’d like to start by admitting that this isn’t my first work term. My days of being bright eyed and bushy tailed have passed, and I no longer remember what it feels like to be a student. How is it going over there? Is the Loeb building still strangely hot all the time? Has anyone decided yet if we should use the oxford comma or not?
I’ve been completely immersed in the workplace for five months now, and I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two about transitioning into the workplace as an English student. Before I tell you about that, an important piece of information about me is that I’m very bad at planning. I’d like to think that I plan things in advance, but I never end up sticking to my schedule and things can change pretty quickly. I didn’t plan on taking co-op at Carleton. In fact, I didn’t plan on taking English at Carleton. I started out as a Journalism major in my first year. Carleton Journalism is an incredible and (admittedly) challenging program. Though I’d like to pursue a career in the publishing industry, Journalism just wasn’t for me. Half way through my first year I decided to bite the bullet, leap into the breach, take the bull by the horns (or whichever cliché phrase of your choosing) and switch into a degree that I had a passion for. Though it’s a slightly different (and likely, longer) route, I’m hoping that switching my majors to English and History will still lead me to the publishing industry someday. This was one of the reasons that I decided to take the co-op option at Carleton. My professor mentioned it at the beginning of Brit Lit one day before we resumed our discussion about the chaos ensued from Grendel’s Mother. I thought about it and figured it would be a good opportunity for me to make some money and explore my options.
So take it from me, someone whose plans frequently derail — if you work hard, things will often eventually swing in your favour.
So here I am, five months later, working for the Federal Government. Though it’s not completely on track with my career path, I actually have a really cool job. For the past five months, I’ve commuted across mountain and valley (from Orleans to Gatineau) on my noble steed (a dingy OC Transpo express bus) to work for the Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP). In a nutshell (through which I will refrain from using trendy government jargon), our program is a commercialization program that buys new and innovative technologies produced by Canadian businesses, and tests them in various government departments. I know what you’re all thinking, and yes, we have worked with robots before. Maybe not the WALL-E or Iron Giant kind — but still robots by definition, which is pretty cool in my humble opinion.
My actual title is “Junior Policy Analyst,” but I have never once analyzed policy. It’s actually a running joke in the office, because every student on my team has the same title and does completely different jobs. My roles are more communications related, and have been for most of the time I’ve been with BCIP. My team focusses on outreach and engagement, so I often find myself writing material about the program or the innovations that we work with, much of which is shared externally. I also get to write posts for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, which is pretty fun and sometimes challenging. Twitter’s 140 character limit has never been so cumbersome throughout my entire life until this point. You might be wondering what this has to do with an English degree. To be honest, the friend and foe of pursuing an English degree is that it’s very versatile. A lot of employers look for people with writing and research skills. Though this job isn’t directly on my career path, I’d like to think I’m gaining experience writing for different purposes and audiences. The experience is really what you make of it.
I’ve come a long way from being a scared little first year in the wrong program, and I’m pretty excited to show you all of the cool stuff I get to do, and the cool places I get to go. So take it from me, someone whose plans frequently derail — if you work hard, things will often eventually swing in your favour.