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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wilfrid Laurier chapter.

This time last year, I was interviewing to be admitted into the Co-operative Education (co-op) program at Laurier. I’m not sure what I was more nervous about – getting into the program or not getting in. I was happy I was accepted, but co-op was a completely new experience that I wasn’t sure I was ready for. Would I land a job, would I like it and was I even qualified for anything employers were offering? It’s a lot to process. Whether you’re entering a co-op program or are applying for internships, here are a couple of things to consider as you apply.

1.  You’re not the only one who lacks confidence

When I mentioned my interest in co-op, my former co-worker coined the phrase “looking for a ‘big-girl job.’” I laughed, but she was right. When job postings came out asking for qualifications and experience that I didn’t have, those jobs started to feel really big and out of reach. I didn’t have any related work experience and wasn’t super involved in clubs during my first year. I genuinely questioned how I got into the co-op program, to begin with.

Regardless of how much experience people had, absolutely everyone I talked to didn’t feel confident going into recruitment. Feelings of inadequacy were so widespread that our co-op preparation course discussed overcoming Imposter Syndrome. So, if you don’t feel qualified enough to land a “big-girl job,” you’re not alone. Everyone lacks confidence.

Employers are aware that you don’t know everything. That’s why they train you once you get there. There are also courses you can take and clubs you can join to gain the required skills. And believe it or not, you have a lot more to offer to any industry than you’d think.

2. Leverage your transferable skills

The best way to ditch imposter syndrome is to evaluate which skills you already have. Before co-op, my only work experience was teaching swimming and lifeguarding. I didn’t feel that my guarding skills were relevant to the marketing positions I was interested in. At first glance, they aren’t. But if you dig deeper, you can pull skills from any experience into any industry.

This is the concept of “transferable skills,” which you’ll learn about in any co-op preparation course. LinkedIn defines transferable skills as “both hard and soft skills that are applicable to multiple jobs and industries.” Mentioning that you’ve already developed applicable skills in your part-time job makes your “non-related” work experience seem a bit more relevant. For example, while teaching swimming, I had to evaluate how well my students were progressing every time they performed skills. This is an exercise in analytical thinking, which is applicable to research, strategy formation and quantitative tasks.

Now, you may feel like this process is a bit of a stretch. I felt the same way at first. However, transferable skills often have stronger relevance to roles than you’d think!

3.  Every job is a learning experience

I worked as a Marketing Assistant for my first work term. This was my top functional area of interest, so I was super excited to work there. I’m happy to say that my experience was fulfilling, fun and educational. I got comfortable with marketing software I’d never used before while learning about my initial interests and myself as a professional.

Not everyone can say the same about their first work terms. For some, their positions were boring, or they didn’t like their supervisor’s management style. This can happen, but it’s the risk you take when applying for any job. Obviously, it sucks when a job that you were interested in didn’t turn out as planned. Even if that first job isn’t the best experience, it’s still something you can learn from. Going forward, you’ll know what kind of managers you like to work for and which positions you’ll never apply to again. Whatever it is, you’ll have some takeaways to advise your choices the next time around.

Your first non-part time, “big-girl job” is scary. No blog post or advice from friends is going to change that. Despite your nerves, the knowledge you’ll gain about yourself is worth it. Whether it’s a co-op position or an internship, take the plunge and click “apply.” That way, you’re one step closer to figuring out your career goals. Best of luck!

Eden DeMarco

Wilfrid Laurier '24

Eden is a 2nd year student studying Business Administration with a minor in English at Wilfrid Laurier University. She spends her spare time reading books, drawing and binging new thriller series on Netflix. She can be found browsing for hours in Chapters or listening to music in her backyard.