I will be honest, 40 hours a week can sometimes feel quite endless.
The transition to co-op is a weird one. About a month ago, I started my first co-op at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as the International Projects co-op for the Nutrition and Global Health Program. I was previously accustomed to having classes sporadically throughout the week, with time in between to do homework, nap, or go to the gym. While sometimes I miss this flexibility, there are also many perks to being on co-op. When I get home at the end of the day, I no longer have to stress about assignments or upcoming exams. Throughout the day, I don’t have the chance to grab lunch at Rebecca’s with friends or see them at random times in passing, but when I am home from work I have ample time to catch up, without having to make time to do homework.
Another opportunity through co-op is the chance to get to know my coworkers. Working with a team that conducts and sponsors various research projects regarding nutrition and health all over the globe also means that everyone has had their fair share of incredible experiences and is a unique resource to gain insight into the world of both academia and global health. However, sometimes it is also crazy to me to have coworkers that are all so successful. Almost everyone in the office has their doctorate, so contributing to lunchtime conversations can be a little nerve-racking. I also find it comical being 15 years younger than all of my co-workers, especially when we talk about weekend plans and theirs all revolve around their kids and trying to find time to go to yoga class. Overall, I really enjoy working with my team and am looking forward to getting to know them over the next five months.
Another major aspect of co-op that I have had to get used to is the lack of sweatpants. Sometimes, especially when it’s a snowy, cold morning in January, it is completely disheartening to have to put effort into my appearance. Tragically the days of waking up at 9:00, rolling out of bed, grabbing a granola bar, and heading out to my 9:15 class are over. On the flipside, sometimes putting on “real people clothes” can at least make me feel like I am slightly more on top of it and together than usual.
Although the transition can be a strange one, there are both pros and cons to being on co-op. I truly am thankful that I go to a school that places such importance on experiential learning, because it is not often that you get to test out a career for a six-month period to help decide if it is something that interests you. A month in, I am still excited by my co-op, but definitely think I now have a better idea of what I want out of future co-ops and jobs. I am hopeful that the next five months are beneficial and insightful, even if it means a lack of time spent in sweatpants.