By: Sheila Dougherty
Co-operative education gives students an opportunity to test skills learned in the classroom, and to expand their knowledge through work related experience. Every co-op student has a differing experience and opinion on the program. This was not only my first year as a co-op, but my first job as well. In the beginning, I had some anxiety and at times self-doubt. As my first semester of co-op at Lindon Engineering Services is ending, I have been reflecting on my experience.
Once I started, I was surprised how much responsibility I was given. I found myself applying principles learned in class and gaining real world knowledge. Although I had some basic understanding, I still needed guidance. My co-workers were friendly and willing to help, and they were incredibly patient with me while I was learning the job. The answers I received were fully explained with the how’s and why’s something needed to be done. Coming from a fast-paced school environment, the one-on-one interactions I had with co-workers and my supervisor was a breath of fresh air compared to the mentors in the past. Although my co-workers were supportive, there were several instances where I was required to apply critical thinking skills and problem solve on my own.
While working for forty hours a week, I am also taking an online course that I work on when I get home. Being a student while working is at times challenging. Juggling a full work schedule and class work has required me to improve my work ethic and my time management skills. I now say to myself: “You need to dedicate this specific time to work and study, then you can have the rest of the night to relax,”. Sounds easy, but from the perspective of a student who really likes naps, the resolve to dedicate specific times to work on and complete work is more beneficial towards my health as a student and to my grades.
To conclude, being a full-time working student is a milestone in my life. I am thankful for my coworker’s example of patience and guidance. Performing research for my job and school work has become easier because I now have the resolve to research topics thoroughly and use patience to complete projects and reports. My co-op experience has allowed me to see how school work relates to the real world, helped me develop better time management skills, and have more confidence in myself.