So, you’ve been offered to extend your Co-op placement? As I approach the second extension at my current position, what was originally supposed to be a 4-month placement will conclude as a year-long one. For me, it’s been a very positive experience that I’m happy to have accepted. If you are facing a similar situation and feeling indecisive, here are some reasons you too may choose to extend your placement, and perks to doing so.
1. Get (Beyond) Comfortable
If you have completed a single 4-month Co-op placement before, maybe you found that the semester was over nearly as soon as you were finally feeling settled and comfortable in your role; that was certainly my experience. Saying yes to extending your placement for an additional semester (or more) means that you won’t stop at comfort, but can dig in a bit deeper: learning from other people and other positions within the organization, getting involved in longer-term/larger-scale projects, and generally becoming integrated into the unique environment of that workplace.
2. Tailor Your Position
Developing on my last point, an extended position demonstrates a form of commitment from you to the organization, and vice versa—not only in time but also in learning opportunities. After moving beyond purely comfort in a position, there may be some room to direct or tailor your role according to your learning objectives, strengths, or areas that you want to improve on. For example, talk to your supervisor about expanding your designated tasks, getting involved in specific projects, or participating in training sessions that will strengthen, challenge and develop your skills and abilities.
3. Make Connections
Don’t forget, there’s room for (a reasonable amount) of socializing on the job! If you choose to extend your position, socializing is a great way to spark creativity and has the added bonus of keeping the job feeling interesting and engaging. Forming relationships at work is a great opportunity because not only do you get to know the people that you work with but, just as importantly, they get to know you. From my experience, colleagues are happy to help you learn and progress in whatever way they can—including using them as a resource and learning from their own experiences/advice. Establishing personal and professional levels of understanding can open doors for networking and maybe even developing connections that could lead to future employment opportunities.
4. It Looks Good on Paper
From a more practical standpoint, having an employer ask you to extend your contract looks good on a resume or letter of reference and could help you in landing your next job.
5. School Will Still Be There
If you’re like me, I’ve postponed completing my final semester, finishing my degree, and finally getting my hands on that diploma in order to complete additional co-op semesters. And yes, I feel slightly anxious about doing so. However, I am a firm believer that some lessons cannot be learned in the classroom, and school is not going anywhere! Plus, your placement might give you insights about areas of interest that you’d like to explore further which you can then do once you return to school. In the meantime, you get a taste of what life is like when you’re no longer a student.
6. Show Me the Money
This one speaks for itself; I’m sure I don’t have to tell you twice that a steady income is pretty great. While I wouldn’t recommend having money be the exclusive determining factor for whether or not you extend your placement (which is why it’s consideration #6), it still is a factor.
I wish you the best with your placement, regardless of its length!