Getting your first co-op can seem a bit daunting. Here are 5 tips that I have learned from my experiences to help make your search easier.
1. Aim for the stars The classic idiom says, “Always aim for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Personally, I always thought of the stars as more exciting. The same logic holds though when looking for co-op opportunities. Apply for many positions, especially some that seem unattainable. You never know when you might have that one unique quality that a company is looking for. Similar to when you were applying to colleges, it’s also important to apply for “safety” and “target” jobs. Just remember, tailor your cover letter for each position!
2. Get out of your comfort zone You can do this multiple ways. First, look at a variety of jobs. Although they might not be directly in line with your career goals, they could give you a more well-rounded and unique resume that will put you ahead of the game come post-grad job searching. Secondly, don’t be afraid to move. It is valuable to travel and experience working in different cities, states, and countries. I moved 3000 miles for a co-op and learned a lot of invaluable information about differing work cultures.
3. Use your connections If you don’t know it yet, connections are the best way to get just about anything in life. Whether they are personal, professional or academic; use everything you’ve got. Get help from friends, family, colleagues, and Co-op/Career Development. You already have a huge leg up by having the Northeastern connection. Obama didn’t become President by simply entering his name.
4. Do your research This applies to both the company and the position. If you could never see yourself in a certain work environment or in a particular position, then don’t apply. It is a waste of time for both you and the company. You don’t want to be stuck with a job you hate. Ask yourself these two questions: Why do I want to work at this company? What makes me a good candidate for this position?
5. Start early Starting early is a good tactic to avoid getting nervous and overwhelmed by the search process. It will give you more time to research and evaluate your options. You will also be an earlier candidate and that is a huge leg up.