To start the entire experience of working as an intern at Desk Nibbles through the RBC uOttawa co-op program is something that I’ve been looking forward to ever since I found out that I got the placement. My work experience up until now has been traditional to say the least, so going from working in the public service to a small startup with 7 employees is quite the leap for me. To start of the series of blog posts to come I think it’s important to start off with the process it took to get here and why I decided to do it. Coming to this opportunity was on a complete whim. I applied to the program on the last day applications were open on one of the only co-op emails I’ve probably ever read. I knew that I wanted something different and that’s what this program provided.
But the process didn’t start there. The process of wanting to do this most likely began in grade 10 for me when I got my first taste of business. At the young age of 14 a couple of friends and myself started our own clothing brand. Hilariously named Kids Who Keep it Real (KWKR), five severely over ambitious kids ordered Gildan t-shirts and made logos on Microsoft paint and sold those shirts to our friends at school. This experience was never motivated by making money, we just wanted to make something that we thought was cool and that we thought others would see the value in as much as we did. It was motivated by the experience of creating.
From this point forward I was always the person who loved to be in control of things and because of this I took on many leadership roles in sports. I feel that this experience taught me something about being an entrepreneur because to be a leader in a sports team you need to rally your teammates through tough games and you need to be able to make large and small decisions to influence your outcome.
During high school I also took advantage of the Rotary Youth Exchange program. To me this excited my interest in the unknown and taking risks, and also lead me to learning that adversity is a learning opportunity not something to dread. In my time spent on exchange in Venezuela I was challenged by learning a new language, understanding a new culture, and making new friends who did not speak English for the most part.
All these events lead up to my choice of going to the University of Ottawa for my schooling. I chose uOttawa because of it’s reputation, proximity to the political epicenter of Canada, but mostly because of the the co-op program. My parents have been HUGE fans of co-op since they benefited largely from it at U of Waterloo which is the only school with a better co-op program than uOttawa in Canada. During this period I was given the opportunity to work for a Federal MP, Statistics Canada, a NGO, and the Treasury Board Secretariat. Needless to say, I was incredibly lucky to gain professional experience which lead me one of my most important insights which motivated me to join Desk Nibbles; I did not want to work for a bureaucratic organization.
With this in my mind, I was constantly looking for opportunities to work in other places. Then, one day I was sitting in bed and I received the “last chance to apply” email from the coop office and I knew exactly what I had to do. I knew that if I didn’t take 20 minutes to write my application I would be working a job I didn’t like, learning skills I would never want to use, and overall not enjoying my coop experience.
While I am personally not a fan of working for large bureaucratic organizations, it’s not because they are terrible places to work – in fact they’re great places to work; I just found that I needed more independence and room to learn and work how I do so best.
So far with my experience with Desk Nibbles, I have been given more responsibility than ever before as well as an environment that encourages creative and non-traditional problem solving. My decision to choose the RBC uOttawa program boiled down to me finding a placement that fit my needs as a student and a future professional. To all those applying to the program that are reading this, if you’ve gone so far as to read a blog post about it, you’re probably ready for it. There’s no recipe that makes an entrepreneur. What’s important is understanding how you work and finding a job where your personal and professional qualities flourish and allow you to be successful. If you’re unsure of how you work best, take a risk and learn something new about yourself.