4 Tips for being successful at co-op and as a student

This was written by Samantha Saggese, a 3rd year NU Chemistry major who is currently studying abroad as a guest post for The Works.

Starting your first co-op can be an unnerving experience. While you may have already spent a few summers here and there working full time, this is likely to be the first time you’re entering an entirely professional environment for six months straight. I like to think everybody makes mistakes on their first co-op, and probably their second and third co-op’s as well. Here are a few tips that’ll hopefully make your co-op experience memorable in a good way:

1. Dress to impress. I worked in a research lab in a hospital, so I actually dressed rather

source: browneyesandgreenbees.wordpress.com

source: browneyesandgreenbees.wordpress.com

casually in comparison to my friends working in financial firms or other office jobs. However, we had two rules that needed to be followed at work: no open-toed shoes and no denim jeans. I started noticing more and more that the older full-time employees sometimes got away with wearing jeans and the supervisor wouldn’t say anything, so I gave it a shot myself one time. Just play by the rules, because having that awkward conversation with your supervisor about why you messed up on the most basic of rules is, well, awkward.

2. Make an effort to make connections. You’re not going to be the only person on your team. Working with you will be people with so much life experience, and in turn, so many connections to other jobs and important people in your field. I want to go into the medical field, so of course I tried my best to chat up the physicians and nurses on my floor. They’ve already been through it, and literally are fountains of knowledge. Don’t sit quietly in the corner, take advantage!

3. Be nice to your co-workers. This could mean fellow co-op’s, or in some cases, full-time employees. Your personality will shine through in a positive light if you’re kind to your co-workers, willing to learn, and eager to help. It’s really a give and take—for me, I had rotating shifts at the hospital, and if I didn’t sometimes agree to switch shifts in my co-workers’ favor, there would be no reason for them to be there for me when I had a scheduling issue and needed to switch myself.

4. Get to know your supervisor. This is the person who will be evaluating you at the end of all of this, and why pass up the opportunity to get a killer recommendation from someone with weight in your field? You want them to be able to talk specifically about you, to know how hard of a worker you are, and to not give you some boring and generic recommendation at the end of your six months. Take a few minutes out of your day to talk to them and always be on your toes, even when you think they aren’t looking.

The great thing about co-op is that all of the tips and skills you pick up there are completely applicable once you get back into class. You should always try to get to know professors who teach the subject you’re most passionate about and make meaningful connections with your peers. And while you don’t necessarily need to dress to impress when you’re going to class, putting your best foot forward is always a must.

Samantha is a third year Chemistry major with a minor in Biology. She did her first co-op at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a Clinical Sleep Research Assistant in Spring 2013. Samantha is a Resident Assistant on campus, a member of NUSAACS and the Honors Program, and has studied abroad in Rome and London. Check out her travel blog at www.sightseeingsam.blogspot.com and/or feel free to contact her at saggese.s@husky.neu.edu.

What the Heck is an Informational Interview?

why are people willing to talk you despite their busy schedule? 1. They're paying it forward. 2. Most people enjoy talking about themselves (and helping of course) Source: usatodayeducate.com

Why are people willing to talk you despite their busy schedule? They’re paying it forward and most people enjoy talking about themselves (and helping of course).
Source: usatodayeducate.com

You’re a Northeastern student, full of vim and vigor and enthusiasm for the future. You’ve got classes and co-ops under your belt, and you feel prepared for the working world. But if you’re like most students, you haven’t discovered one of the most potent secrets of career success. What is this magical secret, you wonder? It’s a little something called “informational interviewing.”

What is Informational Interviewing?

It’s only the most useful career-building tool you’ll encounter. The basic gist is that you will reach out to professionals in the industry and set up interviews with them. Instead of the interviews you’re used to, YOU will be the one asking the questions! It’s the best way to network and gain insider industry knowledge at the same time! And your mom thought you were useless at multitasking! Oh how wrong she was.

The Power of Asking

There are two secrets why informational interviews work.

  • People love to talk about themselves.
  • People love to help college students.

At first, I was skeptical. Who would take time out from their busy schedule to shoot the

source: resumebaking.com

source: resumebaking.com

breeze with a bumbling college student who barely knows what to do with her life after graduation? I reached out to professionals at ten different companies, expecting to bug them a week later in an attempt to set up two or three meetings if I was lucky. Au contraire! To my surprise, almost everyone replied immediately! And they wanted to help me!

You’ve probably heard this statistic before: 80% of job openings are unlisted, and are filled through word of mouth. With those kinds of odds, how can you afford not to network? Informational interviewing is a great way to start. Stay tuned for more blog entries on how I went through the process myself, and I’ll teach you how to do it too!

Amy Annette Henion is a senior communications major with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She basically lives in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.

Welcome to the European “Student City”: Leuven, Belgium

City Spot Leuven

“I knew I wanted to travel abroad,” explained Behavioral Neuroscience Senior Jake Jordan, who is currently completing his co-op as a Research Assistant in a lab studying neuroscience in the city of Leuven, Belgium. “I originally went to my co-op advisor who directed me to the international co-op office. At first they didn’t have anything, and I was like ‘okay, I’ll just go abroad after graduation or whatever’ but then she got back to me a while later and said something had opened up in Belgium so I jumped on that.”

Jake has actually been working overseas for about 8 months– longer than the tradition co-op of 6 months and took over for his lab’s very first Northeastern co-op student. “The process wasn’t too bad. The best piece of advice is to do your research and plan way ahead. Like, I didn’t know that there were only a few Belgium visa offices in the whole country, luckily there is one in New York where I’m from, but if I was from the Midwest or something I would have been screwed.”

Market in Leuven, Belgium during one of many summer music festivals

Market in Leuven, Belgium during one of many summer music festivals

Jake interviewed via Skype with his boss who is originally from Canada. He explained that one of his favorite aspects of working in Belgium is the diversity of the people he works with. “There are people from all around the world here, it’s really cool. The culture is a lot different too. It is a little bit more laid back than the US. There are always people in common areas and it’s very common to just walk around and hang out.” When asked what his favorite part of his job was, “it’s always changing, it’s a small office but it’s exciting—which is actually the most challenging thing too, but I really like it so it’s a good challenging.”

His favorite food: the waffles (of course). What does he miss the most? “Northeastern, my friends and my family of course. Oh, and baseball definitely.”

Kelly Scott is a Career Advisor at Northeastern University and social media enthusiast.  A Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.

If you know anyone who would be a great City Spotlight feature, contact Ashley LoBue at a.lobue@neu.edu for more details.

5 reasons you should work at a start-up — and tips for doing so

This guest post for The Works was written by Zachary Williamson. Zack is a 5th year Comm-Media Studies Major and has co-oped at the New England Conservatory as a Video Production Co-op and  at CustomMade as a Marketing Co-op. He recently accepted an offer from CustomMade as a Creative Associate for the Marketing Team. Zack also freelance as a photographer for the Northeastern Athletics Department.

While many people go on co-op looking to work for a large, well know brand, I encourage people to consider smaller, less established, start-ups. These kinds of companies tend to be a good fit for self-motivated people, or someone who wants to work in a fast paced environment.

For my second co-op, I was fortunate enough to be hired at CustomMade.com, a start-up that had already secured some venture capital funding, and had been a member of the marketing team during a time of incredible growth. Every co-op is a different experience, but if you want to try something less traditional, a start-up is the way to go.

1. Work at a start-up for at least one co-op.

Working to build a company is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have early in your career. Working at a smaller company means that you are making a far greater impact because you make up a significant portion of the staff. It also means that you have to be flexible, oftentimes wearing many “hats” or serving multiple roles, depending on the needs of the company. That said, you will most likely have a lot of skills to leverage and market when looking for your next co-op, considering you were both the HR and IT assistant.

2. Be ready to make mistakes, and own them when you do.

Part of working at a start-up is building something new. Depending on the field, it’s possible that a company is the first to ever attempt something at a particular scale or in that way. Being cutting edge means you’ll inevitably make mistakes, both personally and as a business; and you’ll most likely make a lot of them. Learn from and take ownership of your mistakes to avoid them in the future. But don’t let fear of making mistakes prevent you from… (see #3).

3. Take risks and force yourself to learn new skills.

One of the co-founders of CustomMade told me they would rather a project fail, than not push it far enough or try at all. Trying out new projects makes you more versatile–and versatility is one of the best skills you can bring to a start-up. Specialization is important, but don’t allow yourself to settle into a comfort zone. All co-ops should be about seeking new opportunities, but small companies in particular have more work than they have employees. Stepping up to a task, and then figuring out how to complete it, will make you that much greater of an asset to the company as a co-op, and a more appealing full time hire in the future.

4. Start-ups move quickly– very quickly.

Most start-ups have limited funds to operate, so they need to be incredibly agile and quick to try new ideas. While it’s all well and good to work out how to complete a task, many are time sensitive. Start-ups have to be quick to adjust and find a viable solution if something isn’t working. Things have to change quickly in order to conserve funds, and sometimes projects have to be abandoned in order for this to happen. This leads into my next point, that…

5. Start-ups don’t have room for egos.

Since speed is critical for a start-ups’ survival, they need to build teams of people who can quickly switch gears and go with the new flow of the company. A negative attitude won’t get you far, every challenge must be approached not with a “this won’t work attitude”, but rather a “how can I make this work, or work better” mindset.

Start-ups require a lot of work, but they can also be incredibly fun and rewarding. They force you to make incredible career developments because you have opportunities to do everything and anything. A lot of start-up culture revolves around the concept of work really hard, play really hard. If you like a new challenge every day and never want a dull moment, consider working at a start-up. It was the best decision I’ve made to kick start my career.

Zack has spent the last four years as a coxswain on NU’s Men’s Rowing Team, and is rounding out his final semester at NU as Comm-Media Studies Major, with minors in Cinema Studies & Production. He has co-oped at the New England Conservatory as a Video Production Co-op and at CustomMade as a Marketing Co-op for 16 months (he never really left). He recently accepted an offer from CustomMade as a Creative Associate for the Marketing Team. Zack also freelance as a photographer for the Northeastern Athletics Department. You can find him on the sidelines of a home game or on twitter @ZackWVisuals. (PS CustomMade is always looking for awesome people to join our team in Cambridge, MA, so feel free to reach out if you’re interested!)

Happier after working at Happier.com

source: happier.com

source: happier.com

It was an honor to have the opportunity to interview stand-out student, Andrew Barba. A 3rd year computer science major set to graduate in 2016, he recently finished his co-op at Happier.com, an extremely successful tech start-up in the Boston area.  He gave me great insight into what a co-op at Happier.com is like, how to navigate the interview process, and what it is like to work for a start-up.  All of you entrepreneurs out there or people interested in start-ups, listen up!

Ashley LoBue (AL): Can you tell me a little bit about Happier.com?

Andrew Barba (AB):  Nataly Kogan, one of the founders, had worked for well-known companies like Microsoft and was extremely successful. She thought that she would be happy when she hit a certain level of success and made a lot of money, but Nataly found that it wasn’t the case.  So, she and her co-founder, Colin Plamondon, got the idea to create something that can make people happier in other ways—they did some research and found that if you write down three happy thoughts a day, then you were scientifically proven to be happier. Happier.com started out as an iPhone app but then got extended to the web since it was cost effective.

(AL): What did you do day-to-day as a co-op for Happier?

(AB): I actually got to work on the iPhone app for three months, and then they said “here, build a website”, so I was really excited about the amount of responsibility I had. Yoav, the CTO of Happier, was my mentor, and I did it all as far as coding—all of the other stuff was on him.  It was a lot of fun! Yoav actually designed the system we work with, which is called Agile Software Development.  The idea is that you release products and features quickly so you learn quickly—the key to this system is that you don’t release it when it’s perfect, you release it when it’s ready, so that you can get user feedback and adjust things according to that feedback.  We are able to do this through “Sprints”.  Every Monday we have a big planning day where the whole team gets into different groups (like design, product engineering etc.) and we try to brainstorm on what we can get done. Natalie leads the meeting and talks about the direction she wants to go in, and then we triage from there—the design team says we can do this, and then product engineering says that they can do that etc. We release in two week chunks.  On the web, we release as soon as the app is done.

(AL): What are the challenges?

(AB): One of the challenges working for a start-up is that you have to start projects that you don’t really know how to design. You might think something will work, but in actuality it won’t.  One time I literally deleted everything that I worked on for a long time because it wasn’t functional and I made a mistake. For every mistake you do though, I think you always learn two or three things, so that you always are a better programmer today than yesterday.  As a student, you are taught to do things in a certain way, but you need to learn to think outside of the box if you want to solve a problem or do something that hasn’t been done before.   

(AL): What do you like most about it?

(AB): Freedom is what I like most about this position—they don’t call me an intern because I will build a product for them like the other engineers, so they treat me like another member of the team. They give me a huge amount of responsibility, which I don’t feel like I would’ve gotten at an internship at say, Facebook.

Tech Startups Image Source: entrepreneur.com

Tech Startups
Image Source: entrepreneur.com

(AL): How did you get your co-op with Happier?

(AB): I met happier at the Co-op expo.  They really liked that I had already made two apple apps—I started learning how to make apps by signing up for 12 one-hour classes on how to do it. It was time consuming, but I loved it.  I gave them my resume but actually showed the apps I made. I believe this side project helped differentiate me from the other candidates and say more about me than my resume could.

(AL): What about post graduation?

(AB): I would love to start something on my own one day—the startup space is fun, a lot of work, and moves very quickly, but I just love that environment.

(AL): What is the best piece of advice you can give other students to be successful in co-op?

(AB): I would say to definitely speak up to your supervisors.  Don’t be quiet in a meeting and voice your opinions. Your team really wants to hear what you have to say.  

Which box do I check?

Sarah Pugh grew up in northern Massachusetts, not far from Boston. She is in her third year at Northeastern as a political science major. She ultimately hopes to attend law school and work in the federal judiciary. 

There was this little box on your college applications that said something along the lines of “What program are you applying to?” or “What will be your major?” Some people (the lucky ones) know the answer to this question and have known for quite some time exactly what they want to do. I (and many others) am still trying to figure it all out. And here I am in my third (middler? junior?) year.

When I was filling out my application, I saved that ominous question for last. There was absolutely no way that I was applying as an undeclared student. Because then everyone would know that I didn’t know what I was doing and everyone else has it all figured out, right? After ruling that out, there were only a hundred other choices. Much better.

Image from us.123rf.com

It came down to political science or biology — two majors on very opposite ends of the spectrum. I had always enjoyed learning about the government, and watching the debates during elections season was fun too. To be honest, I didn’t know what political science even was. I couldn’t fathom what made it a science. Also, what kind of job would I have with a degree in political science? You can’t just graduate college and become a successful politician. Ultimately I checked the box for biology. After all, I liked AP biology in high school and I did well in it — what could possibly be different?

I went to orientation, met other biology students, and registered for classes. I was excited about my decision. My first semester was filled with microbiology, chemistry, calculus, and economic justice (an elective for the honors department).

After what was only two week’s worth of classes, I hated chemistry, calculus, and worst of all, biology. I loved my economic justice class. It was engaging, the readings were interesting, and I just liked it. I can remember being on the phone with my boyfriend complaining about school and he asked, “If you could be studying something other than biology and you had to choose now, what would it be?” And it was then that I decided to change my major to political science. I loved learning about the government systems and how it affected our everyday lives, and I could figure out what to do with it career-wise later.

Later that week I was in my advisor’s office signing the paperwork and talking to the department head about why I wanted the change. I felt so grateful to be at a school that encouraged its students to explore their interests and that they made changing programs of study so simple. I attended the major fairs that are typically held for the undeclared students to talk with other students. There were these pamphlets that they passed out called “What To Do With a Degree in Poli Sci” — just the question I needed answers to. Today I know that there are plenty of options.

Image from theviewspaper.net

Technically I am a political science student with a concentration in comparative politics and a minor in international affairs — talk about a mouth full. Furthermore, I’m looking into adding a minor in history. I recently completed my first co-op job at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts as a legal intern. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and have nothing but wonderful things to say about my experiences, though not enough time to share them. In short, I am now looking at law schools for when I graduate from NU.

As cliché as it may sound, the biggest and most important piece of advice to someone that may find themselves in a similar situation to my own is study what you love; the rest will fall into place.

Social Media Tips For Job Searchers

Cant. Stop. Pinning.

Cant. Stop. Won’t. Stop. Pinning.

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a 3rd year international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works. Follow her blog here and/or tweet her @lindseygsampson.

Co-op application time is upon us – it’s time to get nervous, people. This time of the semester is also a great time to work on your professional appearance. Make new business cards. Update your LinkedIn like it’s no big thing. Social media is a powerful tool for the modern professional. It is connecting people around the world like never before, and rocking it on social media can be a huge asset to your career.

Twitter

Start strong. You know how embarrassed you get when you look back at your old e-mail addresses and usernames? guitarchix, beachbabe88, the list goes on and on. So spare fellow Tweeters the embarrassment and keep it simple on Twitter. The ideal Twitter handle? Your name. Just your name.

Tweet at everyone. Retweets are important for getting your name out there as an authority on a particular subject. So don’t just Tweet links — they look spammy and won’t create much noise. Pull out a short quote from the article to increase RTs, and be sure to Tweet at the article or publication. For examples, instead of:

“Cool article.  http://www.fastcoexist.com/node/1682236”

try something like

“S’Well produces a “sleek and clean” reusable water bottle to curb plastic consumption.http://www.fastcoexist.com/node/1682236 via @FastCoExist @swellbottle.”

That’s right, the CEO of S’Well Bottle just followed you. Why? Because you’re awesome.

Don’t be a stranger. Follow and interact with mentors, colleagues, and other professionals in your space. It’s okay to establish professional crushes. You know, people who have the job you have always dreamed of? Ask them a question or Tweet an interesting article at them.

Tweet when the world is active and paying attention. 4pm is the most retweeted time of day, so if you only Tweet once, this should be the time.

LinkedIn

Congratulate. Don’t ignore the LinkedIn updates that notify you when your contact has a new job. A job transition like this is the perfect opportunity to catch up with a contact. A quick LinkedIn message keeps you at the top of your contact’s mind. You don’t have to stay up to date on the intricate details of their life, but a quick congratulatory message can be a powerful tool in strengthening your network.

Source: socialappshq.com

Source: socialappshq.com

Facebook

Just keep it classy. Facebook is one of the largest social media outlets, and future employers will definitely check you out before hiring. While some people use Facebook strategically to build their businesses and professional brands, many use Facebook solely for personal use. Whatever you use Facebook for, avoid albums full of blurry drunk pictures and passive-aggressive status updates. We’re no longer twelve and that is not cute.

You don’t have to be a social media whiz and you don’t have to have hours every day to rock it on social media. Put your best and truest self out into the world of social media and you will attract people with similar interests and values. So get out there!

Lindsey Sampson is a middler International Affairs major with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Writing. She enjoys writing about Millennials in the workplace and social media as a marketing tool. Follow her blog here and/or tweet her @lindseygsampson.

10 Things I Learned from Sitting on a Hiring Committee

7565629154_849345a3e7

photo courtesy of Flickr user bearstache.

Back in April, I was part of a hiring committee, and it was our job to hire a new career counselor. Here’s what I learned from my first time on the other side of the table.

  1. A messy resume is a dealbreaker. If you can, send it as a PDF to avoid wonky reformatting.
  2. Don’t say in 40 words what you can say in 10.
  3. Unorganized writing suggests an unorganized candidate.
  4. An interviewee who can tell a story will stand head and shoulders above the rest.
  5. If we can’t clearly tell from your resume where you got your experience, we will investigate. If we still can’t figure it out, we will think you’re hiding something.
  6. For the ladies – if you absolutely must personalize your interview outfit, pick fun and tasteful shoes. Shoes won’t distract during the interview the way bold jewelry might.
  7. Take a breath and relax!
  8. If we learn in the interview that you probably won’t be happy in the position – in terms of culture, fit, and work-life balance – we will do you a favor and let another employer hire you for a job you’d like better.
  9. Be on time!
  10. Always send a thank-you note! Don’t get caught up in the paper vs. email debate. It’s more important that you pick one and do it.

Amy Annette Henion is a senior communications major with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She basically lives in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.

Pro Perspectives: Financial Consulting at Deloitte

Deloitte logo_1Student Interviewer: Arun Punjabi

Professional Interviewee: Patrick Kumf, Senior Associate in Financial Advisory Services

Company: Deloitte

As a 3rd year student in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University, double majoring in Business Administration and Economics, I seized the opportunity to interview Patrick Kumf, a Senior Associate within Deloitte Financial Advisory Services to not only gain exposure to the career path that he chose, but to seek advice from a successful professional who has been through the same collegiate recruiting process that I am going through. I am currently co-oping at Deloitte Consulting LLP as a Business Analyst, specializing in the Mergers & Acquisitions service line, with an industry focus on Consumer Products and Retail. After the interview, there was no question that the conversations we had were invaluable, both from a learning and professional stand-point.

Arun Punjabi (AP): Can you tell me a little about your current career path and how you came to be at your job?

Patrick Kumf (PK): I’m currently a Senior Associate within Business Valuation at Deloitte FAS.  I graduated with a degree in Economics from Trinity College. I originally joined Deloitte’s Auditing department, but quickly realized that really wasn’t for me.

Patrick continued to explain how after realizing that auditing was not one of his interests or core competencies, he found his niche within the Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, a selective and relatively small business unit of Deloitte that focuses heavily on business valuation and numerical analysis. Due to the cross-functional nature of Deloitte LLP (parent company), Patrick was able to make several connections and work on many projects with professionals in Deloitte Consulting as well as Audit. As for Patrick’s next steps in his career, he intends to leverage his niche skills in business valuation to enter the corporate finance world with a focus on private equity and debt valuation.

AP: What do you do day-to-day as an Senior Associate?

PK: I’m part of multiple projects and teams that range from mid to high performance.  I spend most days managing peers, priorities, and projects.” During busy season, Patrick can work upwards of 75 hours a week.

AP: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting out in this field?

Patrick placed emphasis on networking and communication. Below are his top four pieces of advice

  1. Network
  2. Get referrals
  3. Good recommendations
  4. “Communicate openly and with confidence—don’t be afraid to communicate your issues and interests with your managers.”

AP: What do you find most challenging and most satisfying about your position?

PK: Definitely, figuring out how to prioritize high and low risk projects can sometimes be challenging as well as saying “no” to people to ensure you have a fair work-life balance and focusing on quality over quantity.

He also mentioned time management and how it relates to work-life balance, managing expectations of work and free time as well as people management– “managing people from all walks of life and styles of working can be a challenge”.  In regards to most satisfying, he said there are lots of opportunities for cross-industry work as well as networking opportunities.  He explained that as a Senior Associate you gain economical and mathematical insight into large deals.

AP: If you had to give one piece of advice to a student who wants to be in your position in the future, what would you tell them?

PK: Definitely focus on grades to go to top feeder MBA Schools—Deloitte focuses heavily on recruiting from top academic schools.  And, network effectively and look for opportunities to meet Deloitte professionals, those connections will help you in the long run.

AP: If you had a Husky as a pet, what would you name it?

He went with the name, “Husky” (…haha).

How to Be a Real Person and Other Things I Learned On Co-Op

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a 3rd year international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works.

Co-op is a unique opportunity that allows you to explore potential career paths, network with professionals at every level, and grow in ways you didn’t think possible. But, real talk time: sometimes learning and expanding your boundaries is hard. Here are a few of the lessons I learned from my first co-op.

1. How to be a real person: For the first month of co-op, I woke up with just enough time to get dressed, scraped myself off of my desk at 5pm and sludged home on the T. Eight

40 hours is harder than I thought.... Source: Frabz.com

40 hours is harder than I thought….
Source: Frabz.com

hours of solid productivity five days a week was exhausting – I never made plans on weekdays except to cook pasta, watch reruns of So You Think You Can Dance, and run into bed. The 40-hour workweek takes some getting used to, but by the end of my first co-op cycle, I was going for morning runs and making dinner plans on Tuesdays like I was somebody. Experience with a real work schedule is such a valuable learning opportunity.

Co-Op Tip: Don’t rush into making tons of plans your first week – you don’t want to get burned out. Take time to figure yourself out and establish a schedule.

2. How to make yourself valuable: It’s hard to make a real, lasting impact when you work two days a week and people keep calling you “intern.” Spending six months at one company during co-op allows you to fully immerse yourself in a department or a group. You find your place and start to learn more about your strengths based on your contributions. I didn’t know creativity and design were strengths I had until I worked on a project creating posters for one of our large events. It takes some time to establish yourself as a valuable member of a team, and working so closely with my department for six months allowed me that experience.

Co-Op Tip: Speak up! Making your voice heard will allow you to make a deeper impression on your employers. Respond to group emails , get involved in meetings, take on leadership roles – don’t just float around in the back unnoticed.

3. Uncommon common knowledge in the workplace: My first week of co-op, I drafted an email proposal to a caterer and re-read it fifty times to make sure it was professional. Invaluable office skills, like being able to write a professional email, fielding phone calls from difficult customers, and learning the ins and outs of client relations, are skills that can only be acquired on the job. Having these skills early sets you apart from other applicants when the time comes to apply for jobs.

Co-Op Tip: You will learn a ton your first week on co-op, so take notes on everything. This will allow you to more fully absorb facts and processes. If you’re feeling wild, combine your notes into a training binder or portfolio for the next co-op because you’re just that kind of thoughtful.

4. Handling different management styles: In the real world, having three six-month jobs in for years is flaky. In college, it’s co-op. Over the course of your four or five years at Northeastern, co-op will likely expose you to several different leadership and management styles, allowing you to be a better leader. Becoming a leader is less like growing a tree and more like building a bird’s nest – constructing a leadership style means collecting diverse lessons and habits from those around you.

Co-Op Tip: Pick up habits from your employers as you go – if something was helpful for you, chances are good that it will be helpful for someone else down the road. If you notice something meaningful about your boss’ communication style or organizational methods, try it out for yourself.

5. How to establish a network: I still get emails and updates from co-workers at my previous co-op. Co-op gives you several opportunities to establish strong relationships with professionals in your field. Don’t end co-op without establishing at least one or two strong professional connections. Just being able to hear about experiences firsthand from other professionals will help you gain valuable insight into your own career.

Co-Op Tip: Take the time to grab lunch or coffee with your managers and co-workers. Ask them questions you have about education, career paths, work, life – anything you want to know. They usually want to help, so let them! If you communicate your career goals, they will be better positioned to help you reach those goals.

Most importantly, take full advantage of co-op. Take the time to learn everything you can while on co-op. Talk to everyone, explore new things, and take on projects outside of your comfort zone. Co-op is an amazing opportunity, so it’s time to grab that bull by the metaphorical horns and get to work.

Lindsey Sampson is a middler International Affairs major with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Writing. She enjoys writing about Millennials in the workplace and social media as a marketing tool. Follow her blog here.