Before coming to work for Co-operatives UK, I spent seven years in a creative co-operative, Ethical Consumer, based in Manchester. I was fresh out of university and whilst I had experience of hacking together a decent essay, my experience of working life was pretty limited outside of the usual student waitressing/bar jobs.
I was attracted to Ethical Consumer magazine - then a worker co-operative and now a multistakeholder, owned and controlled by its workers and readers - precisely because of its outspoken approach to consumption in our society.
I gained so many skills in my time there including the usual ones you'd expect from working at a magazine and research organisation. But because of being part of a worker co-operative I also tried my hand at so many other things, starting off helping with press enquiries and eventually appearing on BBC Breakfast News, to handling our subscriptions and improving our personnel work.
One of the things I benefitted from the most was the decision making process. We talked through many knotty ethical problems that appeared in our magazine and about how we run the organisation - but as a team, and democratically - so once decisions were made we all knew how and why we'd made the decision and had buy in to make things happen.
If you're a collaborative, co-operative sort of person I'd thoroughly recommend you give the co-operative model a try!