You got the job offer. Woohoo! So, what now? If this is your first co-op term at the company, the first day of work may seem overwhelming. However, you will be surprised at how much you can learn in four months. The first 100 days of a new job will provide you with knowledge and opportunities. Big wins should happen early and often. Whether that means making new friends, leading a successful project, or simply showing your team that you are a curious lifelong learner.
Here is a quick run-down of what you can expect on the job, based on what I’ve learned through my co-op experience. Be prepared to meet new people, set S.M.A.R.T. goals, learn new skills, lead new projects and most importantly, have fun!
The first 25 days in your new role will be a mix of getting settled, organized, and diving in headfirst. One of the very first things you get to do at work is to meet your team! You will want to get to know the people you’ll be working with for the next four months so it’s good to get to know them on a personal level. From my experience, the best way to do this is to have lunch together. Try your best to not stay at your desk on lunch breaks. It’s hard to have a personal conversation when there are other colleagues around you who are focused on their work. Instead, grab coffee or lunch with a few people on your team, then expand your circle as you begin to understand how the team is structured and who you’ll have contact with.
After you’ve met some of your colleagues and settled into the office, the next thing you should think about are the goals and learning objectives you will discuss with your manager. During your first 100 days, you should create at least three S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals that will help you make the most out of your work term. The projects you take on should be strongly tied to your job description, and your manager will guide you along the way to help you achieve your goals.
By the end of your first week, you will likely experience information overload. From my experience, taking notes and asking questions helped me retain important information and keep myself organized for the following day. Make sure you take the weekend after your first week to get some sleep, then go back over your notes on Sunday night or early Monday morning so you can kick week two off strong and prepared.
Now that you’ve done your homework and become more organized, it’s time to really dig into your projects and achieve some quick wins. Your manager has given you your first project to complete. Utilize their experience to get clarification and feedback on areas you can improve while you work on your project . Remember, this is a learning process and you want to gain new knowledge and skills by the end of this experience. What went well? What did not go well? What needs to be changed? These are questions that you can ask your manager during your check-ins.
In days 51-75, we’re going to dig a little deeper. During this time, make sure you’re finishing up projects you started in days 1-50. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. At this point, you may have more projects on your plate, now that your team has had a chance to see your capabilities and skillsets. Continue to ask for feedback from your team and if you’re overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. You should be comfortable enough with your team at this point to speak up about any concerns you may have. You also do not want to rush through these projects, even if you have a lot on your plate. Take a deep breath, get organized and let your team know your current progress. They are there to support you.
You are reaching the final stages of your first 100 days! How does it feel? You’ve done some amazing work so far, there’s still have a long way to go. Make sure to keep up your good reputation through the rest of your time in this role. During days 76-100, you’ll want to really step it up and complete some of the more challenging tasks you couldn’t quite tackle during days 1-75. At this point you also want to start reflecting on your experience at your company. I personally like to write down any skills or goals I achieved throughout my co-op so that I can reflect on my progress when it’s time to write my report. Book a meeting with your manager to see how you’ve done and get those juices flowing for your co-op paper!
You made it! You learned a ton about your role and the industry. Most importantly, you developed key foundational skills and habits that will help you succeed at your future company! That’s huge progress. After your first 100 days, there’s only 20 days left in your co-op term. Use this time to complete any projects you still have, hand in your co-op assignments, prepare your good-byes, and make sure you stay in touch with your team after your term is over!
Beyond the Blog
To learn more about opportunities like Susan's, visit the Beedie Business Co-op homepage.