5 Tips & Tricks for Your Co-op Semester
This post was originally published by Zain Damani on April 9th, 2016 on his LinkedIn Profile.
Since summer co-op season is just around the corner I thought I would pass along some useful tips & tricks from my previous co-op experiences. Co-operative education was probably one of my best decisions of my university career. I was able to not only spend 12 months working for two amazing companies, but I was also able to find my passion for marketing and meet some incredible individuals within the industry.
First-time co-op students will probably be very anxious about their first works terms but don't worry, everything will be alright. Here are 5 tips & tricks to help you get the most out of your work terms:
- Ask questions and join the conversation - Ensure that during the first few days of your work term you sit down with your supervisor so that the two of you can set goals and objectives. These goals will allow you to look back during your work term to see the work you've completed so far and to see how much progress you've made. Also try to attend staff meetings, take notes of important discussion and ask questions if you aren't clear about going on. When you have ideas, express them with confidence. There are no dumb questions or ideas, especially when you're learning the ropes so take the chance and get your voice heard.
- Network (aka let's go for coffee and chat) - Be friends if your co-workers. It may be intimidating at the start, but at the end of the day, why would want to spend 4 months working with people you're not close with. Try to get to know them and learn to enjoy their company. One of my favourite parts of my co-op term was asking people to go for coffee. It's a really easy way of getting to know your co-workers as there isn't too much pressure on either of you. You are in a perfect position to meet people from all levels of your organization so make sure you capitalize on it! These individuals will probably be your future references, so create a great impression and make sure you maintain your relationships even after your work term.
- Say 'Yes!' - Always try saying “yes” to meaningful learning experiences: the workshops where you get to bond with other employees; taking on a co-workers part of a long-term project when he or she is on vacation; volunteering for an external office events or activities. It is always important to remember that although the work you do is important, it's the relationships you form and the opportunities you seize that will stay with you and that will allow your co-workers to remember you into the future.
- Keep track of all of your tasks & contributions - One of the things I wish I paid more attention to was keeping track of all of the work that I had done. Creating a portfolio is one of the most useful things you can do as it helps quantifying your work terms and the effort you have put into them. I was able to eventually pull together all my work and put together my portfolio which you can check out for yourself (shameless plug).
- Put some elbow grease in it - Bring your A-game. Go the extra mile. Put your back into it. Stay late. Work hard. Reap the rewards later. There will be points where you don't think you're getting recognized. You are, believe me. Co-workers may not say anything right away, but your hard work will eventually be acknowledged. You will want to work as hard as possible to create a name for yourself. Matter of fact, for a lot of you, this will be your first co-op term, so this experience will help define your future within your respective industry, so try your hardest to stand out (the good way).
Although these 5 tips & tricks may not seem like the biggest deal right now you will eventually acknowledge the added benefit they bring to not only your work term, but your career as a professional in the future.
If you have any questions feel free to reach out. I talk all things sports and marketing. If they're together, even better.