Making the Most of Your Co-op Experience: Turning Work into Words


Making the Most of Your Co-op Experience: Turning Work into Words

By: Elise Elliot | SFU Business Co-op Student
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SFU Co-op student, Elise Elliott, working with the The Certified General Accountants Association of British Columbia Recruitment & Employment Team, was welcomed by her supervisor, Dan Relihan, to create a guest postings on the the CGA CareerView Blog. The topic?   Something she valued from her co-op experience with The CGA. The posting was first published on the CGA CareerView Blog on February 14, 2012.

Co-op allows students to test drive different career options and provides the opportunity to learn several practical skills while gaining relevant work experience. But once you’ve finished your co-op work term and you are ready to polish up your resumé for your next job application, how do you remember, and put into words exactly what you have so recently accomplished? I have been fortunate to learn this lesson early on in my work term at CGA-BC, so I wanted to share some of my own knowledge and work experience tips with you.

After being nagged by my two great bosses, @DanTheCGA and @JasTheCGA, to keep track of my tasks and accomplishments throughout my work term, I have finally realized just how valuable this activity really is. In fact, keeping a log of your work life shouldn’t only be practiced by co-op students, but all professionals should be doing this too!

Keeping a record of your work experience and achievements as they occur gives you ready access to this information whenever you need it, especially for that all important career transition – when you need to update your resumé, prepare for an interview with a potential employer, conduct performance reviews, and, let’s not forget, when you are ready to ask for that well-deserved promotion. In fact, keeping track of your accomplishment is the hard proof you need to demonstrate to others that your promotion really is well deserved.

This may sound obvious and simple to do; however, picture yourself in a full-time job, managing multiple projects, while having to meet weekly deadlines. In this situation, you are not going to be thinking about your achievements and how you have impacted the company’s bottom line unless you make a point of writing them down and keeping a record of it. Without writing it down we are likely to forget important details as time goes by. Get busy enough and you can look forward to forgetting entire projects. As for the professionals who have a decade of work experience under their belts, how are they to remember all of their successes in the various jobs that they have held over the years? Yes, you could simply rely on the positions’ job description, but, as you may already know, a job description is never complete, it can never fully delineate all of the skills that you have acquired, and challenges you have overcome.

A little piece of advice: Take frequent notes of your current work projects and achievements in a journal. Then, dedicate one hour each month to formatting your notes into sentences or paragraphs; better yet, turn those notes into concise results-focussed summaries for immediate insertion into resumés and LinkedIn profiles. So, when the time comes to apply for a new job or request a promotion, your record of skills and successes are all ready to be put into action.

So, what are you waiting for? Start keeping a log of your work experience, accomplishments, and tasks now. This is one of those small commitments that will go a long way.

Posted on April 25, 2012