Oct 25

A Piece of Advice: The Co-op Placement

Hello everyone,

in colleges and universities, many programs have co-op options available, giving students the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, skills, and professional connections, as well as gaining further insight into what specific kind of job is best for them. After all, you really do not know what activities jobs entail unless you try them!

Co-op jobs are very much like regular jobs in that there is a similar selection process; employers that are interested in bringing in co-op students advertise their position on an online job board specifically for co-op jobs, that then get filtered into the specific program that the student is in. The student then applies for the job with their resume and/or cover letter, and awaits a reply. The difference here is that, from here on out, the co-op specialist acts as a middle-person for scheduling interviews and communicating to students and employers about the process. The specialist here becomes the sole point of contact for any issues that arise during the co-op, such as performing unsafe/unsatisfactory tasks not mentioned in the job description, or unsafe work conditions, which CAN happen.

When you do score an interview opportunity, the co-op specialist invites you for a specific date and time to have the interview. Employers can choose to either have the interview on their premises or in the co-op department in an interview. They also put assistive technologies in place to help with the interview process if needed.

Me personally as an example, I am currently working as Electrical System Integrator in a co-op term, in which the duties and responsibilities align with what I currently study. I assist with the design, quality assurance, and testing of large scale testers that other companies use to test their electronics. I use “assist” here, because of the nature of the co-op position and the circumstances of my professional experience with electronics design (which was none when I started). When the interview happened, they knew I didn’t have any professional experience specifically with design, but I sold them the idea that I was highly analytical and had sufficient knowledge of electronics and software to help the company out. I did this by doing research based off the job description, putting together the skills I had that aligned the most with the job description in my resume, and rehearsing and asking myself questions to prepare myself for the interview.

The work environment I was at was a medium-sized one of about 50 people. These 50 people were divided into different departments, most of which I had to directly communicate with as part of my role. At times I experienced difficulties with communicating

Here are some pieces of advice for co-op:

  1.  Prepare to communicate how you will benefit the employer: The relationship between an employer and employee is always a two-way street. Therefore, in the interview, let them know how your skills can benefit them. Do this especially when an employer asks, “Tell me about yourself”, or “Tell me about a weakness you have” in a closing statement near the end of answering their question. Be honest. I was told that this was one of the primary factors for the company’s decision to hire me.
  2.  Know your rights: A co-op job is just that, a job. Therefore, the company is responsible for complying with the AODA and all relevant worker-related regulations. At the first sign of abuse, please note it down and let your co-op specialist know.

Wow, that was a lot to say, but hopefully what I’ve said here put in a good picture of what to expect from co-op placements in general.

As always, thanks for reading!

– Aelius


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