by Quinn Villarreal

Coffee meetings, networking events, luncheons, cold emails, job applications, and a whole lot of emails. I had been doing everything right in the networking schema, along with pushing myself in school. But as October neared, I had no leads for a Spring co-op.

My classmates seemed to be parading around with their new positions, and I started to question my own validity.

Why didn’t I have a spring position secured? Was that bad? I had great past co-op experiences, coursework, extracurricular activities, and a solid skill set. But why wasn’t I getting a response

Well, once I talked to more people, I realized that maybe I wasn’t doing the right things. While I was taking the advantageous networking steps, I was waiting for the perfect co-op to land in my lap. In reality, I was being extremely selective and had only applied for a handful of positions.

Where was that golden “content marketing-videography-photography-social media-writing- consulting-advertising-design” co-op? The quick answer: nowhere.

I was waiting for a position that didn’t exist anywhere.

With the clock ticking, and I needed to find my co-op for the next semester FAST. I decided it was time that I make my own co-op position. Two of my roommates had accepted positions at AMEND for the Spring semester, and Paul Delaney had given a presentation during one of my classes. I remember Paul mentioning that “self-starters” were the type of people that fit the culture at AMEND. I knew the company had a good reputation, so I reached out, set up a meeting, and decided to pitch a new position to Paul.

How many Cincinnati manufacturing consultant companies do you know with an in-house videography team? None to my knowledge. But that was my leverage. At AMEND, videography and photography had not been a primary focus, and I saw an opportunity to incorporate it into their business strategy. And just like that, I had a co-op.

During the first week at AMEND, I was thrown into situations where I wasn’t versed and really had to shift gears. I wasn’t alone though.

I saw the capabilities of what a room full of brilliant individuals could achieve with a culture centered around challenges and growth. I immediately knew I wasn’t the smartest person in the room, and I welcomed that atmosphere.

Now, I’m learning how to think more analytically about problem-solving. But it’s not a one-way stream of knowledge. I’ve been given an opportunity to teach my colleagues ways to creatively and aesthetically develop solutions. For example, I am using my visual skills to help illustrate advanced analytics solutions, bring a new value-add to the company.

Still don’t know why I work at AMEND? It’s because they give me the freedom to create and innovate in a role that I am passionate about. I came in with knowledge in my craft, but I have the space and resources to expand it into a true mastery.

Think this is up your alley? Pitch yourself, pitch your talents, and show why you are valuable. Once you’re here, be prepared to work hard in a fulfilling environment.