Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and point of views of current Arts students around campus. Get to know our creative and passionate students through their “voices” and get a snapshot of life as an Arts undergrad. The views and opinions expressed within these student voices posts are solely those of the author.
My work term has flown by, and at this time I’m already buried in midterms and reports, applying the new skills and knowledge I gained throughout my co-op. Long gone are the free evenings and the somewhat more manageable pace that comes with working a full-time job.
However, while I think we can all agree that enrolling in a co-op program is extremely beneficial for gaining knowledge and experience that can be used in our future endeavors, many, if not most, of us forget that leaving good final impressions and maintaining connections are extremely important to landing that first job after graduation. Below are some tips and observations I experienced when finishing my co-op position.
Writing a thank-you letter
This is something that should go without saying. Thanking your supervisor, and any other colleagues who may have helped you along the way, is one of the easiest ways of leaving a good impression.
While email may be the most utilized method of contacting the people you work with, taking the time to handwrite a letter of thanks goes a long way. Each of the individuals I gave letters to came up to me and thanked me for taking the time to write a personal letter. After all, many of these people have put in the extra effort to mentor you throughout your co-op.
Most importantly, regardless of whether you enjoyed your position or not, be sure to thank those you worked closely with. Which leads into my next point … don’t burn bridges. While you may not have enjoyed working with all of your colleagues, or may have found though your co-op that you made the wrong career choice, don’t cut ties. Maintaining the networks you’ve created could be key to finding out about positions and job postings in the future.
You’ve spent all of this time working, and now it’s time to go back to school. However, it’s still important to maintain your existing connections. Using social media and sites like LinkedIn are great ways of staying connected. Additionally, asking your supervisor to coffee or lunch is a great way to stay relevant if your position was close to where you attend school.
Staying connected may also mean sending a simple email to your supervisor, asking how they would tackle a project you’re currently working on in school. Alternatively, if the ability to continue to work part-time presents itself, consider the option. Not only will this help you stay connected, but you’ll continue to gain relevant experience –and, as always, a little cash never hurt anyone.
Update your resumé while still working
This was something that was mentioned to me when my supervisor and I were discussing how close my co-op was to being over. In this conversation, they recommended that I provide them with a copy of my resumé so that they could look it over.
In doing so, I captured most of my responsibilities while they were still fresh in my mind, while also providing my colleagues with an opportunity to point out roles and responsibilities I’d overlooked. Especially when dealing with senior staff who have likely interviewed people before, this is beneficial because they can offer suggestions that you may not have even considered. This is also the time to ask colleagues for letters of reference that can be used when applying for future positions.
Ask for feedback
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Going back to school allows you to use the skills you learned throughout your co-op when doing projects and papers, but it also allows you to fine tune and improve areas where you may have found new interests or realized you needed to learn more. If your supervisor hasn’t already offered it, request a meeting to debrief, review your employment and ask what areas they feel you could improve on. Doing so will allow you to return to school knowing where to put your focus .
Your final days as a co-op student may feel like the end of another chapter in your journey through university. Yet in reality, putting in the extra effort to leave good impressions and stay connected is essential to getting the most out of your co-op experience.