Four Mistakes You Are Likely to Make During Your First Co-op Work Term – And It’s Okay!

Four Mistakes You Are Likely to Make During Your First Co-op Work Term – And It’s Okay!

By: Linda Nguyen
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Going into your first Co-op term ever usually comes along with multiple layers of emotions that are hard to explain. After months and months of hard work preparing for your dream job, you finally made it! Super thrilled, you pat yourself on the back. And then, you realize you just threw yourself into the world of offices where you will work your 9-5 among a bunch of grown-ups. Being the new kid can be uncomfortable sometimes, but don’t worry. You have worked so hard to get that job offer; you can do this.

But before going into your first day at work and start this fantastic learning journey, you might want to know four mistakes that are easy to make during your first Co-op term:

1. You don’t ask questions.

Actually, please do. You are not only new to the job, but you are also new to the work culture. I believe that your supervisors will be more than happy to answer any of your questions rather than let you execute wrong moves. Remember, doing Co-op means you are going to learn. Your employer would want you to ask silly questions than make decisions without running it by anyone.

2. You prefer to sit at your workstation for the whole day.

It is undeniable that acting professional is vital in the workplace. But that does not mean you cannot spend a few minutes trying to get to know your co-workers better. By this I mean on a personal level. You don’t have to linger at your co-worker’s desk asking them 20 questions about what they did on the weekend. Try adding in one or two questions whenever you happen to walk by them in the office or if you need to ask them questions about work. It is totally acceptable in the workplace and shows everyone that you are not that “difficult person”. Here’s a tip to keep the conversation flow:

  • Remember the stories you co-workers told you last week, and follow up with them.
  • Ask them “How are you?”
  • Give compliments

3. You don’t take enough breaks.

We may have heard advice saying that overworking can show your hard work and dedication towards your new job. However, this may not be the smartest move if you want to keep your work performance consistent in long run. Not taking enough breaks during your 7-hour long work day can quickly lead to burn out, which can be worse when you prolong it to a few days of working non-stop. This explains why in site visits, Co-op coordinators always make sure that students take proper and enough break. Remember, your health is the most important thing. Side note: Eating lunch at your desk is NOT recommended, hard-working bees. You may want to bring your meal to your communal kitchen, chit chat with your co-workers or even go to a nearby Starbucks for a change of environment. That’s what I did, and it helps.

4. You wait for work to come to your desk

On the first Co-op term, many of us are eager to learn more and do more. However, just like any other job, not every day is a busy day. You may experience some chill afternoons when there is not much going on around the office. So, instead of sitting there and doing nothing, why not ask your supervisors and your co-workers if they need any help. Taking the initiative not only shows that you are willing to contribute your 100% to the position but also makes time goes by faster. This is also a perfect chance for a newbie like you to review your training or learn more about the office culture.

The mistakes above are easy to make when you first start your job, so don’t freak out when you find yourself making one (or multiple) of them. Being a Co-op student can be a perk as employers understand that you are at entry level. You are here to learn, so errors are bound to occur. Moreover, who know the errors you are making today will become your advantage later on in life. Five years from now, you might have already climbed up your career ladder smoothly with these lessons on the back on your hands, while other peeps have to move up at a slower pace and learn from the bumps they haven’t experienced. So errors are not a bad thing, you just need to identify them, correct them, and grow from them.

Beyond the Article

  • Want more tips?  Read Ryan's reflection after being on the job for 24 months. 
  • Co-op is a great way to start saving money.  Ashley suggests some some ways to keep your wallet in check.
  • Just starting your Co-op work term?  Tyler gives some advice on how to navigate a new workplace as a Co-op student.
Posted on December 14, 2018