Tips for Co-op Students

  1. Before you apply for Co-op jobs, prepare yourself in the following ways:
    1. Achieve proficiency in basic skills such as, reading, writing and math. If you're lacking one or more of these basics, get additional help before you leave school. Your desire to strengthen skills will earn you extra bonus points.
    2. Learn how to communicate and listen well. Be able to repeat what you've heard either in writing or verbally.
    3. Build confidence by getting to know yourself. Get to know what your likes and dislikes are. Find out the things you do well and not so well.
    4. Have some computer skills. Computers are part of everyday life and can bemastered easily.
    5. Keep your options open when deciding on a career path. Explore areas of interest by taking related classes, attending job fairs, visiting workplaces and even reading the help wanted ads.
  2. When you apply:
    1. Use your writing skills to their maximum potential. Complete the entire job application. Neatness and spelling count!
    2. Demonstrate interest for and knowledge of a particular position. Before your interview, find out something about the job and the company. Ask questions about the job?
    3. Be able to demonstrate competency in the basic skills required.
    4. Be prepared to pass a drug screening test.
    5. After the interview, send a follow up thank you letter to the interviewer within three days.
  3. On the job:
    1. Report to work on time and strive for regular attendance habits.
    2. Show pride in your work and be prepared to account for it. A high level of self-esteem, strong motivation and personal development are attributes valued by employees.
    3. Listen carefully to all instructions and follow them closely. If you have questions, it's OK to ask.
    4. Think about the work you're doing. Be able and willing to recognize and define problems. Use the skills that you have learned in school to help meet your responsibilities.
    5. Keep your goals in mind.
    6. Display enthusiasm. An enthusiastic attitude shows people that you like the work you're doing.
    7. Demonstrate leadership skills. Help your co-workers whenever you can. Take the initiative.
    8. Be a team player. Good interpersonal skills will make you a valued employee and earn you the respect of your co-workers.
    9. Display a professional attitude. Be willing to accept criticism as a means of self-improvement. Listen to others who may have had experiences that will help you.
    10. When road blocks appear use your problem solving skills to continue. Think fast and be able to correctly solve the problem. People with this skill will advance quickly.
    11. Avoid activities that distract you or others from your work, or that represent a questionable use of company property. Don't invite guests to work, or use the phone for personal calls, except in an emergency.
    12. Respect your co-workers and all the people you come in contact with on the job. This means avoiding sexist remarks.

12 Smart Survival Tips

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Special Supplement," June 1990.

As a Co-op student within an organization, you have the power to shape the outcome of your assignment. While not every circumstance can be anticipated, the following tips may help you create a useful and productive experience.
  • Always ask for advice — Don't assume; take nothing for granted; avoid following false assumptions.
  • Invite your predecessor to lunch - Spend some time in an informal setting gleaning information from the person whose shoes you've been hired to fill. Find out about problem areas before you encounter them first-hand.
  • Document everything — Always keep copies of your work, of memos, reports, files. A careful filing system will protect your efforts.
  • Never talk about salary — It's considered rude to ask your colleagues what they are making and even more rude to reveal the contents of your own paycheck. The only people who need to know your salary are your boss, your mate, and the IRS.
  • Respect deadlines and schedules — Set a challenging but realistic timetable for yourself. Do everything you can to wrap up a project ahead of time.
  • Avoid gossip — Behind the back discussions of the personal and professional lives of your colleagues is never a good idea.
  • Clean up your act — Even if your boss is given to dirty jokes or questionable remarks, keep your comments clean.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for your first promotion or raise — Many times managers overlook candidates for promotion simply because those candidates haven't let their interests be known.
  • Promote yourself — While you want to be sure all parties get credit for an accomplishment, you want to make certain your part of the work gets noticed.
  • Arrive Early — Get in before your boss does in the morning. Use the extra time to read trade publications and get a jump on the work of the day. Staying late is also a good idea, but only if you use your time productively.
  • Don't let your social life interfere with work — Watch the number of social phone calls, and don't let your work place become a hangout for your cronies.
  • Seek feedback on your progress — Occasionally ask your boss how you're doing. Self-evaluation is also important.
Last Update: October 08 2010
For additional information, contact: Robert Henderson