Roughly 51% of Northeastern graduates secure jobs with a former co-op employer! Wouldn’t it be cool to land a job with a former co-op employer where you’ve already developed great relationships, know their business/products/services/clients, and have proven yourself to be a top performer?
On October 15 we hosted a terrific panel on “Turning Your Co-op Into Your First Job.” We were lucky enough to get four panelists all of whom successfully turned a former co-op into their first job. Our panelists gave a ton of helpful tips, which would be way too long for this blog, but we’ve condensed it down into four main topics we covered that you’ll want to take note of!
Being Strategic and Thinking of Your Co-op as a Building Block:
Many of our panelists were especially strategic about their co-op choices, starting at their first if not their second co-op, in terms of recognizing company names and the types of skills and experiences that would make them more marketable down the line and that they wanted to get on their resume as a building block. Some also looked at which companies were most likely to hire co-op students for full-time work in making their selections.
Being Successful on Co-op to Get Noticed:
This was something that, not surprisingly, all of our panelists knew how to effectively navigate! The main points that came out here were: (i) getting to know people in the company by attending events so that enough people knew who you are, and in that same regard, working with a variety of people in your group so you have plenty of people to vouch for you; (ii) showing initiative and a willingness to do any assignment and to do so with enthusiasm; and, (iii) making sure to ask for feedback and to really work with that constructive feedback to improve your performance as you go along on the co-op.
Advocating for Yourself:
Our panelists also made sure to advocate for themselves when it came time to discuss a full-time position. Because they made an effort to get to know people in their department and to solicit feedback along the way, they all knew that things were going well at the co-op and that their employer was pleased with their work by the time they approached the conversation, typically about mid-way through. Some practiced the conversation in advance with a friend or a relative, but importantly, made sure to have this conversation so that their employer knew they were interested in a full-time role. In fact, as they pointed out, sometimes employers start to view you as an employee (which is pretty flattering) and may lose track of the fact that you haven’t yet graduated, or may not remember exactly when you graduate or even realize that you’re interested in a full-time position with them. The point being, you need to make sure you’re effectively advocating for yourself and letting people know what you’re hoping for, and not waiting to be approached.
Developing a Strong Network:
And finally, our panelists touted the importance of networking while on co-op, but also after you leave a co-op. Having these relationships and staying in touch with people you used to work with, through periodic, friendly emails, is an important way to make sure that you have a network to tap into when it comes time to look for a full-time position, especially since it may be the first or second co-op employer that you want to try to go back to.
Amy Stutius is a Career Advisor at Northeastern University. She practiced as an attorney before transitioning to higher education. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.