Malvern Collegiate Institute offers senior students (in grade 11 and 12) the opportunity to participate in a co-op program. In my experience, this is an eye-opening course that gives student a reality check on society’s working world.
As a proud participant of the program, I would like to share my experience working alongside the Ward 32 City Councillor for Beaches East/York, Mary-Margaret McMahon.
Late last school year, I met with Mary-Margret and her staff – Ciara, Laurie and Jane – to discuss what would be expected of me. I realized that a co-op placement involved a serious commitment. They explained that I would be working in the office alongside Councillor McMahon and her staff members.
Depending on what is going on at my school, I may be at city hall two or three times a week. However, I always start my shift by 9 a.m. and leave by 11:30. This gives me just enough time to get back to school for my afternoon classes. I will be continuing this throughout the rest of the school year to obtain my two credits.
There was a slight fear that ran through my mind as I stepped into City Hall on my first day. I was lost and stressed, but once I found my office I felt at peace. I was treated as an equal and within a couple of weeks I was answering emails and phone calls just like everyone else.
My work ethic is nothing compared to the professionals, but they are kind enough to help me when dealing with certain issues. Since there can be many things going on at once (meetings, phone calls, visitors), I have learned that it is important that we all work together as a team to benefit our community.
As often as not, Councillor McMahon will be rushing in and out of the office collecting information for the meetings she must attend. I find it astonishing that she is able to address so many issues in one day. Her work ethic is something that can’t be taught in classes. At City Hall I am able to learn things that I wouldn’t be taught in the curriculum in my school.
Recently, Councillor McMahon took me to a budget committee meeting that she was attending. Councillors were gathered in a large room and were discussing and listening to citizens’ opinions. This has been my favourite part of the co-op program so far, because I can learn about Councillor McMahon’s opinions on different issues, along with those of other Councillors.
Co-op students do not get paid, but the experience I have gained so far at my placement is priceless.
For more information on the Toronto District School Board’s co-op program visit www.tdsb.on.ca.