This summer, thousands of post-secondary students will gain much-needed work experience by working in a summer co-op. Rather than working at a part-time job or hanging out in their parents’ home, a student can take the knowledge they learned in the classroom and apply it to a workplace setting.
A summer co-op can offer a wide variety of benefits: work experience, contacts, tips and tricks of the trade and a boost in confidence. The ladder might be the most important advantage of participating in a summer co-op because it shows that a student can do the job and is astute in the field of study.
Experts: the rewards are great and help guide students on a career path
“It’s very valuable for students to get a co-op placement that’s related to their degree. They can add it to their resume so when they graduate they can show they have relevant experience,” said Maria Trujillo, co-ordinator of the student career center at the University of Northern British Columbia, in an interview with 24 Hrs. “Also, they become more confident because they have a better understanding of how things work and why.”
Despite the positive elements that come with participating in a summer co-op, university studies have found that their students mostly work in paid internships, a part-time/summer job and volunteer positions. With a lack of summer co-op participation then this could help a student stick out from a crowd.
Here are five ways to make the most out of your summer co-op:
Co-Op as A Job
A summer coop is one step closer to attaining a career in your field of study. This is why it’s important to treat your summer coop like you would any other job: show up on time, be dedicated, perform the tasks at hand very well, emit confidence to your superiors and bring the right attitude to the workforce.
If you’re spending your summer at a coop, it would be prudent to get to know as many people as possible, particularly with those who have been in the industry for an extended period of time. Forget social media for the summer and network physically and speak with anyone and everyone to improve your personal brand.
Leave the High School Mentality
Leave the high school mentality at high school (or at home) and present a professional impression at the summer coop. This means you should be avoiding office cliques, putting away the smartphone when you enter the office, staying away from office gossip and arriving to work on time. Remember, never be afraid to roll up your sleeves and perform a little bit of elbow grease.
At the end of each day, spend a couple of minutes to record what you did throughout the day and what you learned in a daily log. This is important because you can learn from your mistakes, improve upon what you are already doing and generate new ideas for when you return to the classroom in the fall.
This might be the biggest aspect of your summer coop. By showcasing your judicious manner and professional courtesy then you could be a candidate for professional development. What this means is that employers could very well offer to pay for your courses if you decide to stay on part-time when class is back in session. Also, once an employer or supervisor gets to know you then they may invite you to special events and ask you to take on other assignments.
Have you been in a summer co-op? Let us know about your experience in the comment section below.