Co-op Diaries: One Month Down, Three to Go – Vancouver Canucks

Are you a CMNS student that loves sports? Need some tips and tricks for landing a Co-op in the sports industry? Our Features Editor, Kasia Cookson, is experiencing the awesome opportunity of working for the Vancouver Canucks as their Media Relations Student Associate! The best part? She started the gig with minimal hockey knowledge. Since, Kasia has dangled (hockey term) her way through her first Co-op with some serious hard work, and has even built a vocabulary of hockey slang. Keep reading to see how her experience is going so far:

“Wait…Roberto Luongo isn’t our goalie anymore?”

This was pretty much the theme of my thoughts during the first week of my four-month co-op with the Vancouver Canucks. Picture me – a week into my first co-op term ever, the youngest intern in the building at 19 years old, knowing very little about hockey and even less about the team I’m working for. I’m sitting in my office cubicle and feeling so overwhelmed I might cry. Talk about a fish out of water situation.

When I first got the call from CMNS co-op advisor Marcia to tell me that I had finally, finally landed a co-op job after what seemed like countless interviews and applications, it never once crossed my mind why she was calling when I picked up the phone. We chatted, I told her I was stressed about finals and interviews, and next thing I knew: “Well, I have something that might let you relax a bit. The Canucks want to offer you a job.”

So what do you do when you land a position as Media Relations Student Associate with the Vancouver Canucks but know nothing about the game? In other words – how do you adapt to a co-op position that seems entirely over your head?

(First of all, let me just say that in my defence, the job description said that knowledge of the game was a plus not an essential).

Basically, you fake it till you make it. Be prepared to Google. Be prepared to text your younger (die-hard hockey fan) brother while he’s at school to ask him “help! What’s a penalty kill?” Most of all, you make up for your lack of knowledge with an enthusiasm to learn. Talk to your supervisors. Show them that for as much as you don’t know (and they’ll find out soon enough) you want to learn triple that amount – not just about the organization, the team, or the initiative, but the industry itself. Hopefully, your three or four co-op terms will give you some insight into what industry is right for you; after all, how many of us really know where we want to end up without trying it out first?

I’ve learned that I’m fascinated by the fast-paced, constantly changing loyalties of the sports media industry. I’ve learned about the cross-cultural differences between sports media – that for as few women as there are in North American sports media today, there are even fewer in Europe. I’ve seen the mad stampede to the dressing rooms after a game as journalists try to be first to interview a player so that they can complete their next-morning article deadlines (and hopefully go to bed early). I’ve seen plagiarism across news articles. I’ve written press releases and then woke up to journalists across the country referencing those press releases in their morning news.

And a month later, I’m very tired but alive, and I’m happy to say that I know enough about hockey to call myself a Real Canadian. I feel a close connection to the boys on our team (yes, I know all their names now.  My favourite is Alex Biega. Who doesn’t love an underdog?); their losses are my losses, their victories are my victories.  Every morning that I walk from Stadium Chinatown to Rogers Arena I think about how incredibly lucky I am to have landed this job. Admittedly, thoughts of “Should I even be here?” weren’t all that uncommon at first, but I’m starting to feel like, yeah, I fully well do belong here. Above all, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your job, keep remembering that you were hired for a reason. Your employer saw something in you that he or she didn’t see in any other candidates. So yes, you are supposed to be here, and you’re completely capable of kicking ass.

Still, a month is not long at all, and there is still so, so much to learn. I don’t feel qualified to offer advice as sage as our Communications alumni that I’ve talked to for CMNSU, but as the proud owner of my very own four-walled office cubicle, what I can do is give some practical tips and tricks for anyone who does land an office job for their first (or second, or third) co-op.

  • Photocopiers can sense fear. Stay calm.
  • Keurig coffee machines are way overrated.
  • The Office will become a lot more relevant.
  • Do not admit to your friends that you met Trevor Linden without knowing who he was, because they will never let you forget it.
  • Reading week? Pfft. What’s a reading week?
  • Are you shy like me? Again, fake it till you make it. The relationships you form with the people around you – people you will see almost every single day for the next 4-8 months – will play a huge part in making or breaking your co-op experience.
  • Downloading Netflix on the company computer is probably a bad idea.
  • Keep Calm and Google On.