My Co-Op Experience: The Shadows of the Day are Growing Closer


By Anna Parkes


“Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin.” – Joy Bell


It is with regret that I acknowledge the end is near and the shadow of the day will soon settle over my time at the Learning Hub, Limerick. When I first embarked on my co-op adventure, I had no idea of knowing how much I would learn both about the world of work and my own capabilities.


An important component of the working world that I have learned to embrace is being part of a team as opposed to a solo worker. I’m that girl who rolls her eyes along with a dissatisfied sigh when the dreaded phrase “group project” leaves a tutors lips. I despise them – to be completely honest I can be stubborn and like to complete tasks with my own style. Of course, this method does not work in the real world that resides just outside the blissful bubble we call “college life”. Alongside my fellow co-op students, my duty was to slip seamlessly into the tight-knit team at the Learning Hub. Our purpose was to help and not hinder their everyday process. To my (pleasant) surprise I found working as part of a team easy to adjust to, and once I gave it a chance I have to admit that it does make every day at work that little bit easier. Tasks run smoother, deadlines are met and stress levels are kept contained. Teamwork is an essential lesson learned that I will bring with me throughout the rest of my university and employed life.


Perhaps more rewarding than the lessons I have learned of the working world is the knowledge I have gained of my own personal capabilities. Before life at the Learning Hub commenced I could never have considered myself a leader. Obviously I would always pull my weight, but I was never the girl in charge. However it is with newfound delight that I can say this has completely changed. In the past couple of weeks I have led our Story Hub programme. I have been one of the key members in organising our very enjoyable Easter camp. Another student and I have embraced the challenge of delivering English language classes to non-native young students. All of these projects were thankfully met with success. I am now confident that in fact, I am a leader – I don’t need to work quietly behind the scenes any longer.


I am going to greatly miss being part of the Learning Hub and to state otherwise would be a blatant lie. I have had so many wonderful and unforgettable experiences. I proudly marched in the Limerick City parade along with some of the lovely children I have worked with. I travelled home on public transport with a full face of alien inspired face paint after a busy evening in the Art Hub. But the truth is that my fondest memory that I will cherish from my co-op experience is the vibrant people that I have had the pleasure of encountering. Many of the children have been bright and fun, and a reminder that not all young people have lost the skill of imagination. I’ve learned so much from an amazingly inspiring staff who work with unwavering passion to improve the quality of life for the community of the Northside of Limerick. And my final article would not be complete without a special mention to the students who started this co-op journey with me – we have had so many days filled with laughter and I hope our friendship will last long after our final days at the Learning Hub. I am filled with sadness to finish this chapter of my life – but in a way I am very lucky. For in the words of A.A Milnes world renowned bear Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?”