All posts, Co-op & work experience stories, Students, Undergraduates

My amazing co-op experience

By Sarah Talty

Not everyone believes that everything happens for a reason but I do and it was certainly the case for me when it came to my coop. In second year I decided to get my own co-op instead of going through the co-op office. I had my heart set on a certain magazine and all my friends would tell me that I was so lucky I knew exactly where I wanted to go and nearly had it sorted. I put so much research and energy into that magazine that when it didn’t work out I was a little deflated. Suddenly I was the one with nothing while my friends were finished their interviews and being offered places.

I remember sitting in the Course Director’s office, really upset, telling her that I just wanted to work in a magazine close to home. She told me to do some research into magazines in Limerick and she’d try help me out. I stumbled across a website for The Limerick Magazine, they also ran Fusion Magazine and had the most amazing photography and really interesting articles. I emailed my Course Director straight away but the very next day, as luck would have it, the coop office sent everyone an email saying that The Limerick Magazine were looking for unpaid interns for their coop. I jumped at the chance and went for my interview a few weeks later. Michelle, the editor was so lovely and bubby, the office was so cool and chill, they were all typing away playing music and Michelle and I went for coffee.

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I got the job and was over the moon. It actually worked out even better than my previous option because, located in the heart of Limerick city, the office was only a 45minute affordable bus ride from my home in Clare, which means I saved so much money by not having to live out.

I started in June, feeling incredibly nervous walking into the office, only to be greeted by a gorgeous Labrador lying on the office floor. Michelle’s dog Bella immediately put me at ease and everyone in the office was so friendly and welcoming. We’re a small office, a photographer, graphics guy and the interns. The other coop there were on their way out when I started so I was the only intern in the office the whole summer. But everything happens for a reason and it was the best thing that could have happened because it made me challenge myself and push myself to leave my comfort zone. Even if the thought of handing magazines out around Limerick or writing a fashion piece when you live in jeans and a plain top terrifies you, when you’re the only writer in the office it’s hard to say no. If there had been others there I would have passed on doing a lot of what was asked of me because I would have thought I was too shy or not able for it. The few months working by myself taught me that I can do everything I think I can’t.

Now there are other interns in the office and I don’t want my coop to end. It’s been amazing working like a real journalist, getting to write such interesting pieces and interview such amazing people. It’s so nice not to feel like an intern, to just feel like a valued member of the team where my ideas are listened to and encouraged.

My advice would be to research your coop early but don’t bank on just one place in case it doesn’t work out. Start thinking about your coop early on, even in first year and have a good idea of what you want and don’t want. Even if some place seems out of your reach or impossible give it a go anyways because you never know. Try to build up your CV as much as you can before coop. Good grades are always welcome but experience will make you stand out. Again though, you’re going on coop to learn so you don’t need to have your own radio show or weekly column in a newspaper, even just helping out at your local radio station, having your own blog or sending a few articles into your local paper every now and can make you stand out.

Also you get out of your coop what you put it. If you don’t put yourself out of your comfort zone and you don’t make mistakes then you’re not learning. Be open to everything your coop throws at you and even if you don’t like your coop, you’re learning that that’s not the field or type of environment you want to work in when you graduate. Remember everything happens for a reason.

sarahtalty

Sarah Talty is a 3rd year BA Journalism & New Media student at the University of Limerick. From Clare, Sarah loves books, chocolate, Netflix, napping and writing, not necessarily in that order.

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