RIT requires most majors to have cooperative work experiences before earning our degree. The number of co-ops required varies depending on the major; for instance, Psychology (my major) requires 2 co-ops, while Engineering requires 5 co-ops. Five is quite a lot, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do in order to get experience and to better yourself as much as possible before searching for your very first job after college. Being exposed to real job experiences before actually having a real job really does help form you into a better professional worker. I promise you, the more job experience you get before your actual first job, the more you will develop your professional skills; your boss will love you and will be more than impressed.
I am truly thankful that RIT requires students to complete co-ops because if it wasn’t for my recent co-op, I would not have been a step closer in chasing my dreams with my career. I thought I wanted to do something in the psychology field, such as working in a private practice being a therapist, but now I realize that it isn’t something I see myself doing for the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed my internship, but I had days when I wondered how the other psychologists could do what they were doing until they were 60 years old. I realized it’s because they love their profession but I didn’t.
This was the perfect time for me to start thinking about “Plan B” for my career. I was on the borderline of becoming a psychologist or becoming a teacher. I learned that I prefer to not sit still all day long and listen to clients’ problems throughout the day. It is more of something I enjoy doing as a hobby; being there for anyone who needs to talk because I am a good listener. I always thought, “hey, I’m a good listener, and I like helping people, this must mean that being a psychologist would be the perfect job for me,” but apparently not so. I do not want to get paid to listen and to be there for others when they need someone; I’d like to get paid to be able to teach people my language, my culture, and something that I have somewhat control of. And by control, I am referring to some of my clients’ problems at my Internship that I had no control over. I didn’t like it. I felt helpless. I couldn’t help out their families, change their families for them, give them a better life, or stop cancer for them. I couldn’t get rid of their problems entirely. All I had to do was hope for the best for them and advise them with what I could. All I could do was be there for them physically and sometimes that is truly more than enough for someone. But it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to help even more; hence, teaching is something else that I am thinking of pursuing.
I was lucky to be able to work in two complete different departments; one department was for behavior, and the other was medicine related. Working with two departments gave me a much better idea about the kind of job that would fit with my personality and what I would enjoy doing professionally. For those of you who know me, I do not do well with strict scheduling. I am more of a free spirited person and like to do things unexpectedly at times. I do like planning, but not all the time. I don’t want to plan every single thing I do and that was what I had to do for my behavioral department. I had to have appointments in advance, know when the patients were coming, I had to have some things planned out, etc. However, for my medical department, things were last-minute. Of course there were some things planned, but there were also many unexpected moments, and that’s something I enjoyed more. For instance, some patients needed help at this second and I was up and ready to help them. Many were going through some medical conditions, such as having cancer, HIV/AIDS, severe surgeries, etc., and I felt like I was able to contribute more in that department. (I certainly didn’t sit all day and that’s something I also appreciated.)
Because of my internship, I realize that I like working at hospitals and teaching (I taught my colleagues once a week at the hospital which helped me realize that maybe teaching sign language is something I’d like to pursue). I’m also very, very grateful that I had two amazing supervisors to work with who gave me wonderful feedback. They were very eager for me to experience what working in the real world is like and they did a fantastic job. If it weren’t for them, I would not have gained the knowledge I have now and my perspective on things would be very different. In all honesty, I learned so much because I really did learn from the best and I’m extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to work with them.