Co-op Term 1: A 2-month reflection

It’s been almost two months since I started this co-op position, and I’ve been learning and doing lots.  Recently, I received an email from my co-op advisor for a site visit, and was given a form to fill out.  Most of it was based off of how I was doing in terms of learning, and my accomplishments at the workplace.  At the end, there was a section to fill in anything else.  Everything I wrote there was similar to my thoughts being thrown onto the page, and I thought it would be suitable for a blog post, so here it is below:

First, it feels strange to realize that I have been working for the past two months.  Time flies by really quickly when you’re enjoying the work you do.  I really do believe that being “happy”, whatever that definition may be for each person, is very important.  At my workplace, the people do really make that happen; however, I find that I feel awkward at times.  Maybe that’s just me, but for the first few weeks or so on the job, it took me a while to get used to everyone’s mannerisms, or “way of speech”.  I know for one that it took me a while to realize when one of my superiors was making a sarcastic or facetious comment, or a serious comment.  I remember being quite intimidated for a while, but now it’s all good. 🙂

On the topic of people, I occasionally go out with my coworkers.  On one occasion, a group of us decided to plan a snowboarding daytrip up at Cypress Mountain, and it was awesome!  We got to know each other a little more, and got a chance to have some fun, of course!  Now, we go out for lunch from time to time, and just get to chat it up about things other than work, which is nice.

On another note, I found setting learning objectives very difficult within the first two weeks on the job.  The first week on the job was mostly introductory information about the company, where everything is, what tasks are assigned to you, how to go about doing them, and so forth.  Second week was more or less still the same, and then BAM, learning objective time!  I think making the deadline on the third week would be a little better, but that’s just my thoughts on it.

Now onto something completely different, this co-op work term is very different than an academic term.  I say that not in terms of just not being physically at school and learning, but actually being able to do work where I can see the immediate effect it has.  Looking back at the last 5 semesters I’ve taken at SFU so far, I’ve spent countless hours studying, trying things out (in terms of programming), all while sitting down in front of a computer.  Now on co-op, I’m still sitting down in front of a computer, but I’m also talking with people that know a lot more about what’s going on, and learning things like “how VLANs work”, “what a Terminal Server is, and what are the components behind it”, just to name a few.  I can go up to my supervisor, or anyone else for that matter, and ask them about servers or concepts I’m curious about, and they’ll explain it to me.  Since we all have computers, and everything we do is computer-related, I get hands-on experience of what’s being explained.  It’s an awesome way to learn!  Not only that, but sometimes we might get together, such as like we did the past day, and explain some concepts.  Comparing this with school, I find that it’s much harder to get this kind of experience.  Sure, I could go to office hours (which I haven’t in the past few semesters, because I felt that spending my time studying at home was much more efficient), but the normal day-to-day small group feel is not there, and not the same.  At the end of the day, school is still school, I still learn lots from it, and I’m happy learning about these new concepts, so it’s all good.

Ah, something else crossed my mind.  I remember reading about other people’s co-op experiences here in the co-op office archives.  The general opinion I got from reading them was that “the job was quite repetitive”, and some even mentioned that they didn’t like it.  Now that I’ve been here for a good two months, I can see where they come from.  I would even agree that some of it is repetitive (e.g. shipping and receiving stuff everyday), but since that’s the nature of this position, I don’t mind.  In terms of the “[they] didn’t like it” part, I find that it honestly depends on what you make of it.  In a place with so much equipment stocked up, you can get creative with what you want to do.  I’ll talk about that more when you come in. 🙂

I feel that that’s most of what I have on my mind for now, so I’ll just leave it at that. 🙂

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