Hannah Naranjo Sears

Meet Hannah Naranjo Sears:

Side profile of a person wearing a white bucket hat and blue tshirt, smiling outside.

About Hannah

Hannah Naranjo Sears is a University of Guelph Child Youth and Family student, minoring in Psychology, with a planned graduation for Summer 2023. Before starting work at the University of Guelph Child Care and Learning Centre (CCLC) as a co-op student, Hannah was not convinced that she would enjoy her work term. After about a month of working at the CCLC, she fell in love with the children, the role, the learning, and her own professional development that was taking place. She continued to work a second co-op work term at the CCLC and is now working as a part-time staff member in a similar role. Hannah talks about her role at the CCLC, what surprised her about the role, the skills she gained, benefits of the PCDR, and what’s next for her career journey. Watch this video to see Hannah’s Experiential Learning in action.

Tell us about your role at the U of G Child Care and Learning Centre (CCLC). How did you start working there, and what did the role turn into?

“I started my role at the CCLC Fall semester of 2020. It began as a co-op work term, my very first one in-person, and I wasn’t quite so sure I’d enjoy being there for 4 months. After about a month, I fell in love with the children, the staff, the environment and especially all the learning I was doing every day. Ever since I have been working here, I did my second co-op work term here which was even more exciting as I was already familiar with the centre and could really expand on my personal and professional learning.”

What is your favourite part about working at the CCLC?

“My favourite part about working at the CCLC is interacting with the children. My program is very centered around children and their development, therefore I was able to find an extensive amount of connections between my work with the children and the work done in courses. It’s fascinating getting to watch everything learned in class play out at work. I especially enjoy observing children, trying to intervene only when necessary, as this can tell us a lot about their behaviours. Overall, it has taught me so much about early childhood education and more, I feel extremely confident in my ability to run a classroom in the future and a huge part of that has to do with the learning done in this centre.”

What's the biggest surprise you've encountered in this role?

“The biggest surprise I encountered is how much I enjoy it. As I mentioned, I was hesitant about my role in the beginning, but with time I came to love it and I surprised myself with how much more engaged in the role I was once I started to enjoy it. This was quite the pleasant surprise as it has geared me towards the career path I’m on now and has really helped with deciding what age group I want to work with.”

How has co-op contributed to your career goals?

“Co-op has contributed to my career goals as without it I wouldn’t have had the job experiences I did throughout University. It’s important to try a job before you decide you want it to be a career and that’s exactly what co-op helped with. If it wasn’t for these experiences I wouldn’t have had the practical hands-on experience I now do with children. The job at the CCLC, which was provided by the co-op program, sparked my passion for working with children and helped with making my goals more specific.”

What skills, knowledge, and attitudes have you gained from co-op?

“From the co-op program I have learned how to create a professional resume using the STAR method, etc. This has helped with my skills in concise writing, specifically targeting my resume to the job I am applying to. I have gained a lot of knowledge on creating professional relationships and the importance of networking. It has positively enhanced my attitudes around career development, specifically how it’s normal to change your mind, encounter challenges, etc. Everyone’s path is different.”

How could the PCDR (Professional and Career Development Record) help you and your career?

The PCDR could help my career as it formally recognizes a student's involvement and career development activities on and off campus. For me, this would mean that the work after my co-op placement, working part time at the CCLC, alongside being in full time school, would be formally recognized as an Experiential Learning opportunity rather than just a part-time job.”

What does "Experiential Learning" mean to you?

“To me, Experiential Learning means incorporating knowledge from a multitude of fields to inform appropriate practice. The Experiential Learning that I’ve done with children is important as I cannot get these experiences any other way. It’s only through hands-on learning that I’ve been able to learn through different experiences, challenges, etc. and apply the theories learned in coursework.”

Do you know what you will be doing after graduation? Did co-op and/or experiential learning help you make that decision? Why or why not?

“I’m hoping to go to teachers’ college after graduation. Experiential Learning and co-op definitely helped with this decision. I used many of my co-op resources to prepare the documents to submit on my applications, such as writing a good resume and cover letter. The Experiential Learning that I’ve done solidified my decision in entering the primary junior division of education as my current passion is early childhood education and development.”