As many Northeastern students return to campus for classes, others are leaving to begin co-ops locally, nationally and worldwide. If it’s your first co-op, keep the following four tips in mind from fellow students who have already gained real-world experience.
- Develop a strong working relationship with your manager
Erin Hensley, DMSB’18, and Sohan Shah, SSH’17, believe those new to co-op should regularly check in with their managers. Asking for feedback on personal performance and goals is a great way to learn strengths and weaknesses, as well as to possibly ask for a more diverse role in the company.
“Approach your superiors if you have any [untapped] talents that you would like to lend,” said Hensley, a marketing major who just finished her first co-op as an analyst for Market Metrics.
- Make a good first impression with your colleagues
Diego Salas, DMSB’17, recommends that first-time co-op students learn what gets under their colleague’s skin, both in and out of the office.
“In your first few weeks on the job, you should target commonalities between you and your coworkers and initiate a relationship that goes beyond work,” said Salas. Salas has two co-ops under his belt, with his most recent experience being a debt capital markets analyst at Scotiabank.
- Ask lots of questions, ‘but only ask a particular question once’
First-time co-ops should be willing to ask questions, and a lot of them at that. By asking questions, co-ops will likely be seen as having a positive attitude and willing to take on new endeavors.
“Employers understand that co-op students are not perfect, but showing that you are adaptable and perceptive to feedback shows your commitment to improving your work performance,” said Hensley.
- Prove yourself—and then reach for the sky
Take time to learn your new role. By giving yourself time to learn the basics, you’ll be more prepared for what’s to come.
“Employers will likely test you the first week to see what your skills are and then use this assessment as a baseline for giving you responsibilities. Don’t be discouraged if you’re given routine work during your first week—the best is yet to come,” said Salas.