How to Make the Most of an Unenjoyable Co-op
Hi everyone! As a student at RIT, it is likely that you will have to find a co-op in your field to get you experience and fulfill your graduation requirements. While the co-op program at RIT is phenomenal and gaining experience in a real-world setting is crucial to obtaining skills for your future career, your co-op experience may not always be a good one. Sometimes you disagree with managers, don’t like the location you are in, or you may find out that the kind of work you’re doing is just not what you want to do for the rest of your life. If you do find yourself in a situation where you are unhappy with your co-op or internship, there are some things you can do to take some positive things out of the time you have, and still have fun too!
Make Friends with Your Coworkers
Even though you may not enjoy your work, manager, or location, chances are good you will have some coworkers that you can make friends with. This doesn’t necessarily have to be other student’s workers or co-ops either. Older, more experienced coworkers can be enjoyable to eat lunch with, or just share conversations in the lull times during work. Making friends with the people you work with and reaching outside of your own desk and work can make work much more bearable, and make the time pass much faster. They can teach you lessons they learned at their job and life and can give you valuable advice you can use in your future career as well. Besides making work more enjoyable, they can also provide some fun outside of work too. Many students go on co-op in a place they have never been and may have no contacts or friends there. Having these coworkers to spend time with can make the times outside of work much more fun. No matter the age of your coworkers, making them your friends can definitely make a disappointing co-op more bearable.
Make Your Own Projects
While you may not enjoy the work you’re doing, you can still tailor the work to your own style and interests. You will be given projects that you have to complete, but chances are good you will also have time outside of those project and periods where you will not necessarily have work that is assigned to you to do. During these times, instead of goofing off it is a perfect time to create your own projects. Picking something you are interested in to work on that can also benefit the company can make your co-op a better experience for a few different reasons. First, you will be working on something that you started, and this makes it have a much more personal connection to you and you will have much more fun working on it. You can also combine efforts with other co-ops that may be working at your company, so you can combine efforts and have the chance to work on a team as well. If you complete a project that you gave yourself, this is something you can use to impress your manager or boss as well. Completing a project in general as a co-op is usually impressive but showing your boss that you took the initiative to improve the company on your own shows independence and drive that can really impress them. This can lead management to give you more projects and responsibility, and it can really give them a good impression of you which can lead to full-time job offers or recommendation letters in the future. Taking this initiative to work on your own projects can only help you, and make your time a lot busier and more fun on your co-op.
Find Things Outside of Work to Enjoy
Along with having fun with your coworkers outside of work, finding fun things to do outside of your co-op is essential to enjoying your time. Without studying or homework to do, you will most certainly have a ton of free time to spend after work and on weekends. Find things to improve yourself like joining a gym, reading, or learning a new skill or language. There will also be things around you to get you out of your apartment or house. While I love a night of watching Netflix as much as everybody else, doing that every night and weekend can make for a boring co-op. Depending on where you are, just getting outside and walking or driving around can be a great experience. Googling events or fun places near you can get you out to make new friends in the area and just have fun. Making sure that your co-op is not the only thing you are doing while you are working is important to having a successful and fun time.
These are just a couple of the things you can do to make your co-op more enjoyable for you if it’s not the perfect job you were expecting. Ultimately, it is up to you to do whatever you can to have fun at your job and make the most of your experience. If you do it right, you can take a lot out of a co-op whether it’s your dream job or not!