When I finally got the opportunity to complete my co-op work terms throughout my third year at Carleton, I truly didn’t expect it to turn out the way it did. I was able to complete all three of my mandatory work terms in the Office of the Vice-President (Students and Enrolment) – Strategic Initiatives (OVPSE) as the Digital Content Coordinator.
Before being offered the position at the OVPSE, I had to go through the interview process for the jobs I applied and was accepted to be interviewed for. The co-op program makes this process very easy for those who aren’t from Ottawa and want to spend their summer at home. I was able to go home for the summer and still complete my co-op interviews through Skype or by telephone, thanks to the accommodations from co-op as well as the flexibilities of the places interested in interviewing me.
Now onto my actual co-op experience at the OVPSE; I was able to complete my fall and most of my winter work terms at the office on-campus. However, in Canada, when COVID-19 became a much bigger issue in March, we were all told to start working from home and were no longer able to work in the office.
The transition to working from home was a bit difficult, I was no longer able to interact and ask questions to my supervisor in person, I had to set-up my own laptop so that I could work from home and I had to ensure that I had all of the right applications available to complete my work efficiently. The OVPSE was very helpful, in the sense that they gave me all I needed in order to set myself up from home properly. I was given written instructions through email, as well as links to websites that could help me and I could contact Carleton’s Information Technology Services if I really ran into some issues.
Co-op was also very helpful throughout the transition to working from home, I received many different emails about how to adjust to working from home, what I can expect, as well as an email check-in from my co-op advisor. In co-op, for each term you are also expected to complete work term reports – the type of report depends on your program – your report has to be reviewed by your direct supervisor. The co-op office was very accommodating with students during this time – although I didn’t need any extra time to finish my second work term report for the winter, my friend who’s also in co-op was able to receive an extension due to her supervisor being extremely busy because of the COVID-19 situation and therefore, unable to review her report on time.
Now that I’m well into my summer work term and have been working from home for quite some time, I finally feel like I’ve gotten into the groove of things and have accepted that this is the new normal. My supervisor and I used to meet weekly to discuss what’s going on, what work needs to get done, things like that – now that we can’t discuss this in-person we have these meetings over Microsoft Teams, as well as our formal staff meetings once each month. To help stay connected to each other, my co-workers and I all meet on Teams once a week to talk about anything, it could be work-related or it could just be about our weekends. It’s very helpful as it makes me still feel social in a time where things are so uncertain.
Although the transition is hard, it’s not too bad. My supervisor gave me the okay to leave Ottawa and come home to be with my parents because we’re now in a working from home system. Getting to come home, for me, has given me the most comfort throughout this time because I’m not alone, I’m surrounded by family, whereas I would have been alone in Ottawa.
As we start to approach a fall semester that will be completely online, for those of you that will be completing your co-op work terms or those who want to but are unsure now with how things are, rest assured that everything will be okay. It’s definitely a different experience – working from home – but it’s also an experience I’m very grateful for because it’s something new that I’ve had to deal with and it can be a great asset on my resume for future employment opportunities.
Being able to adjust to change and work well under pressure are both qualities that can truly help you grow as an individual and shape you for your future job. I know that times are hard and we are all hoping COVID-19 clears up soon so we can all be together again, but for now, try to look at your new experience from a positive perspective so that you are making the most of your time and not worrying too much about the negatives.
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