The Reproductive Sciences Research Lab at the Toronto Zoo was Arman Momeni’s home for a month this summer. The Bayview Glen (BVG) student did a co-op education placement at the national research lab, which houses samples from across the country.
Arman was the only BVG student to participate in this unique experiential opportunity.
He reflects on the placement, in his own words.
What made you want to take the Cooperative Education course?
High School is a difficult, yet exciting period of time. We are provided with so much opportunity, but at the same time, we are expected to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives. While enriching and educative, the classroom experience simply cannot provide students with a solidified understanding of the world past post-secondary. When I heard about the Cooperative Education course and the opportunity to gain experience in a specific industry, I knew I had to take it. I aspired to gain a more robust understanding of what I wanted for my future.
What drew you to the specific industry in the placement you chose?
I have always been conflicted in what I want to pursue after my time at Bayview Glen. Every class I have taken has intrigued me in its own unique way, which has left me in this difficult crossroads between several different disciplines. That being said, I have always found my home to be in the biology classroom. Learning about the human body, the most beautifully engineered mechanism on this planet, has always fascinated me. Nonetheless, within the field of biology there are still so many potential careers that one can pursue. Personally, I have been stumped between a career in research or a career in medicine. I was drawn to my specific industry, reproductive research, because I already had some experience in the medical field, but research was completely new to me. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone, learn more about the field of research, and, in turn, learn more about myself.
How would you describe the application preparation process, prior to your interview?
The application preparation process was very straightforward and catered to each specific individual. Ms. Dybala ensured that I was taking the right steps, led me in the right direction, and provided me with several tips and tricks to tackle the interview in a professional and effective manner.
What has surprised you most so far about your placement?
Going into my placement, I expected to be treated like a student, not an employee; however, that could not have been further from the truth. From my first day at the placement, I was treated like a colleague and was given the same expectations as a paid worker. While challenging to get used to, the realism of this experience has provided me with so much beneficial experience and training to become a master in the workplace.
Could you provide 2 or 3 examples of things you have learned that have impacted you?
There were several experiences within my Cooperative Education experience, which have impacted me:
I learned about the harsh world of research. You are constantly working hard, and you are never guaranteed the results you want. People who work in research have an amazing level of resilience to push through the barriers and the unsatisfying results they are constantly faced with.
I learned that the workplace is tiring. No matter what industry you work in, you will have to very work hard. You must have discipline so that you can push through the times when you are simply not motivated to be working.
It is important to build connections. On my first day I felt like an outsider. I didn’t know anyone, and no one knew who I was. However, as time went on, I started to make a name for myself by reaching out, talking to different people, and helping out whenever I could.
Has this experience influenced your outlook (career, future)? If so, in what ways?
I went into the Cooperative Education program with several goals in mind. I wanted to learn more about the workplace, my future aspirations, and learn about myself. This experience, undoubtedly, has influenced my outlook on my career. After experiencing four weeks in the research world, I know that research is something that I must incorporate in my future, regardless of how I do it. The thrill of not knowing something, and then working hard to find the answer, is unmatched. Research is a different type of learning; one that takes place outside of the classroom and provides an endless world of possibilities.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I believe that the Cooperative Education course is something that every single high school student should experience, and I promise they will not regret it. You will learn so much that you are not able to learn within the classroom environment, and I am sure that you will leave the experience feeling accomplished and having a better sense of self.