In the fall I will be entering my fourth year of university, and my brother will be entering his first year. I’ve been thinking about what advice I could give to him, or what advice I wish someone had told me four years ago. Then I think of all of the new students entering into my program, the Public Relations program, and what I would tell them.
See, the BPR program is a little different than a lot of degrees, because in order to graduate you must complete three “co-ops” or work terms. Co-op is a pretty scary thing when you first start out if you don’t have some guidance. So here it goes, the most important thing I think you learn from having a co-op and my advice for all the students out there.
If I could tell a first year co-op student what the single most important thing you learn from co-op is, I would have to say you learn about yourself. Don’t get me wrong, the amount of industry things that you learn on co-op astounds you when looking back on it. But the thing that amazes me the most after the four months is how much I have grown, as a PR practitioner and as a person.
Most first term co-op students are dead set against moving away, or they want to move back home for the summer; and I was definitely one of those students. But lesson number one in co-op: when you get offered a job, you take it, so off I moved to Edmonton. Though I of course missed home, I had one of the most educational and remarkable summers of my whole life. I came back to school, a changed person.
This co-op term I moved here to Cape Breton, and again I feel like a completely different person then who I was when I moved here. The experience you get from your job, living on your own, and meeting new people, is truly like no other.
On co-op you learn what you love, and what you hate. You learn how fast the PR world moves, and that some days you really don’t have time to eat lunch. You learn that what your professors were talking about in class is actually important, and maybe you should have paid more attention in class. You learn that clients can be really frustrating sometimes (not in Cape Breton of course), so no wonder you do so much group work in school. You learn that this is something that you are capable of, and something that you are actually really good at.
I guess my advice for the new students would be get out there, don’t be scared! Move away, make friends, make mistakes, shed tears over stress, fear or homesickness, ask questions, learn from your mentors, soak up every piece of information available too you. It’s all part of this incredible experience that you get to have. Remember life starts outside of your comfort zone.