We’re all under a lot of pressure to know what we want to do with our lives, and many of us struggle finding where to start. When it comes to education, you’re provided the knowledge you need to help you grow. But that doesn’t mean it will necessarily point you in the right direction. So, in my final year of highschool I decided to try a co-op experience.

Having the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a collaborative and creative environment allows any student to gain knowledge that school just can’t teach you. For me, learning simply became easy when my interest was always there.

Like most people, when it comes to new experiences, I didn’t know what to expect walking into the office. Looking back now, I can honestly say it doesn’t matter what you expect, just be open to what it is.

Every co-op experience is different but if you’re just getting started, here’s some things I’ve learned from mine.

1. Ask questions

This might sound like an obvious piece of advice, but it’s so important. I don’t think people ask questions as much as they should. I knew I should have been speaking up more, but it took me a little while to feel confident enough to ask for clarification or when I was interested in learning more about something.

I don’t know why it’s so difficult, especially when we all know that asking questions is one of the best ways to learn.

Asking questions will eliminate any confusion you may have, and it shows the people you work with how interested you are. You can use your questions as a way to bounce ideas around and to be more creative. Doing this also builds stronger relationships with the people around you. If anything, don’t assume. Just ask.

2. Don’t be afraid to get involved

We’ve all been in a situation where camouflaging into the wall behind you sounds like the best option. But if you want to be successful you’ll have to put yourself out there.

Participating in events, projects, or even simple discussions are all ways you can make the most of your time with a company. Even if you’re out of your comfort zone, you’re more likely to learn from experiences you are actually involved in, and it will help you build your social network.

This was a tough one for me. But once I started participating in projects, film shoots, and even conversations about strategy, I felt able to open up. It was definitely uncomfortable at first, but it was worth it!

3. Be yourself

News flash, the fake persona you’re trying to create for yourself is obvious to everyone. Just be yourself.

This is super important for a co-op position. It’s crucial for the people you’re working with to know you: your strengths and your weaknesses. If you want to move beyond making coffee runs, they need to know they can trust you with real work.

And, if you’re honest about your weaknesses, your manager can actually give you advice that will help you grow!

Ultimately, it’s ok to bring a little weird into the workplace, as long as you’re also bringing your hardworking and genuine self.

I have to admit, I’ve never really been a “scholar”. But life becomes so much easier when you’re excited to learn!

Working with the Oak and Rumble crew has introduced me to a whole new world of opportunity. Not only did I learn about content marketing, I also had the chance to learn more about myself. The more I embraced the challenge, the more I became part of the team.

You’ll have more responsibility than just coffee runs, but it’s up to you to make the most of it.

– Madison Densmore


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