Making the Most of Your Work Term

Making the Most of Your Work Term

By: Rosie Sidle
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Co-op is a wonderful opportunity and I recommend it for every student! However, being a co-op student, an intern, or a temporary/contact employee has a few drawbacks. One of them being that you may have to leave a great job in just a few short months.

It is common to hear about people getting extensions or full-time jobs from previous co-op positions. However, those lucky people do not get handed those jobs on a silver platter. They get them by working hard, networking, and fitting in with the work atmosphere.

Within a few days of working at my co-op job, I knew I wanted to stay as long as I could and there was only one problem standing in my way! The problem was that the business I worked for hired students every semester and if I wanted to stay, I knew I would have to work extra hard to prove myself.

When I first began my co-op job, I felt like an outsider. Other staff members were very polite, but they did not make an effort to get to know me and I felt too shy to reach out to them.  I eventually brought up this dilemma to my mother, who as most mothers do, had excellent insight about the situation. She pointed out that my coworkers might not be enthusiastic to get to know me because I was sure to leave in just a few short months. She also reminded me that it can be emotional to befriend someone then to say goodbye to him or her a short time later. This information got me thinking... and talking! I was determined not to be just another intern and in the end I was successful in my pursuit, though not in the way I had expected.

The following tips are three pieces of advice that are sure to give you a leg-up on scoring an extension or permanent job!

Tip #1: Begin Networking on Your Very First Day!

You never know who might be a useful contact in the future. Sure, the receptionist might not be in a position to hire you directly, but you never know whose opinions matter most to your supervisor. Furthermore, the receptionist might be impressed by your work and know of someone who is looking for an individual with your skills.  Networking is such an important part of business these days because many jobs are never posted in newspapers or online, and if they are, you are likely to be one of a hundred applicants. Particularly as a junior employee, you want to stand out. Utilize your opportunity as a co-op student to engage with your coworkers.

Tip #2: Treat Your Co-op as a Test Run.

Most co-op students are hardworking individuals, no matter what task they take on. As such, it can be tough for a supervisor or an employer to tell if you truly enjoy your job. So, make it obvious!  Demonstrate what you truly enjoy doing and what you have done to improve your weaknesses.  If you feel that you have not got your point across, ask your supervisor directly for an extension.  Remember to ask early as many businesses hire co-op students several weeks in advance!

Tip #3: Get Involved!

During your co-op job, ask engaging questions to gain a better idea about the business’s short and long-term goals.  Try to take part in after-work get-togethers with coworkers and when possible try to get to know them.  Ask them about what their role is in the company and how they ended up working for the company.  This helps to show your employer that you fit in with the staff and that your contributions are invaluable!

Posted on August 07, 2012