• Alex Cheng

My Personal Experience at an Online Co-op Placement for Visual Art

Hi, I’m Alex!

Hi everyone! My name is Alex and I’m a co-op student working at Winged Canvas. I attend Bur Oak Secondary School and I’m very passionate about art and wellness. This is why I’ve decided to create this art and wellness blog post to share with you about my online co-op placement, and some of the tips & tricks I’ve picked up along the way! I'll be talking about my personal experience at Winged Canvas and how art has helped me with my mental health.

Life Online & Mental Health

Art and Wellness poster I made (picture not meant for distribution)

Since we’re 10 months into quarantine, we’ve already adapted to technology and adjusted to online learning. We all have mixed feelings about online learning but I’m here as a co-op student to tell you how it has impacted me.

Sometimes when you don’t have a good connection or a device at your home, it can get pretty stressful if any information was misheard or interpreted the wrong way because of a bad connection with audio.

I will admit that I’ve been the victim of not having a good connection and having to re-connect is pretty stressful at times. We experience more stress than ever before and this can cause mental health problems early on.

Since art can be a sense of therapy for many people, we can connect with it online. I’ve been able to experience the full art experience at Winged Canvas as a Co-op student, and I realized how much the Co-op placement has helped me with my mental health and productivity.

When I first began working here I could only describe it as a roller coaster ride. During my first few weeks at work, I had my ups and downs. It is easy to interpret the wrong message and it’s no one's fault, but on the other end, I was able to meet different art nerds like me and start a conversation with them.

Online vs. In-person

Photo of my Co-op Placement Teammates

There’s pros and cons to online and face to face learning:

  • Main pro about online learning = more freedom at home with a more flexible schedule.

  • Main problem for online learning = not being able to focus properly.

Another important factor would be communication with students and teachers:

  • Communication is very important in a group setting, and especially difficult when you may not be online at same time, have poor internet connection, and don’t always see your teammates’ faces.

  • There may be miscommunication and mismanaged expectations if there isn’t consistent communication and an understanding between teammates.

  • A benefit is being able to explore different programs and cultures, and learn ways to communicate and collaborate asynchronously, without needing everyone to be online at the same time.

During my online art placement, I was able to improve my communication skills while working with my group members. It was rough in the beginning and I made a lot of mistakes, but I’ve learned to share my ideas and opinions openly to improve my teamwork skills.

5 Things I learned at my Virtual Co-op…

Working through the Elements of Art design tiles on the program Figma

1. I learned a lot about graphic design during my co-op placement by editing artwork and worksheets. It was also my first time using Figma, a collaborative design program!

Designing educational worksheets with my teammate for Winged Canvas’ Instagram!

2. I learned important teamwork skills when it comes to creating and separating the workload for online projects and how to communicate different ideas with my group members.

First time creating art gifs and Instagram reels!

3. I learned how to create engaging Instagram reels and gifs by editing the images on Google Photos and stitching different images together to create a gif. You can see some examples on the Elements of Art Blog.

Organizing different tasks on our online task organizer Asana!

4. Co-op helped me prioritize my time and be organized with my schedule with task organizer Asana. I was able to see the due dates of each task and complete my weekly logs as well!

Co-op team giving each other feedback on our instagram sliders design activity

5. I learned that it’s important to ask for assistance. Asking for different perspectives and opinions about a certain topic means that you’ll have more feedback and insights on how to improve. It’s always better to ask your questions and learn from it than to be scared and keep silent!

My Advice for Future Co-op Students:

Here are some tips I have for any students thinking about taking Co-op whether a placement at Winged Canvas or just an online placement in general:

  • Always have a positive mindset and attitude

  • Don’t take criticism personally (learn and improve from them)

  • Take pride in your work (be confident and don’t feel discouraged)

  • Have fun! Enjoy the few months you are working for and socialize with your co-workers

  • Prioritize your time wisely, and finish the most important task as soon as possible!

If you'd like to apply for our co-op program, be sure to check out our Join the Team section of our website to see if your school is eligible!

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