I wanted to get a new start in life and increase my employability, so I entered a co-op based graduate program to get that fresh start. Up until then, I had a history of short-term positions and long-term unemployment. I also wanted to get beyond only working in the disability non-profit sector, as it did not offer much security, constantly reminded me of being disabled, and was pigeonholing (and labelling) me in my career aspirations.
My graduate studies application stated why I thought the co-op would help me meet my career goal of moving out of working in the disability sector, but the co-op coordinator took no note of that. He asked me if I ever considered working with people with disabilities and thought that I should work with them, as I was one of them and could relate. He also felt I had too much experience for a co-op (I was only in my early 30’s and there were people in their 40’s who had successful, long term and continuous high level positions getting co-ops.). The purposes of co-ops are to: gain experience; increase people’s employability; and/or gain opportunities to work in different industries and fields.
I was the only person in my class who wanted a co-op but did not get one. The only time I was called for a co-op opportunity was after all the other students turned the position down. I later found out that my experience was not that unusual from other students with disabilities who had similar experiences.