Participating in Co-op is a great opportunity to get the career specific experience many employers are looking for when hiring, and to network with many influential mentors. If interested in joining Co-op it is highly recommended that students start the process during their second year at least two semesters before the first intended work semester. However, the Co-op process can be overwhelming and a tedious process. This is my personal story about my Co-op job search.
Pre Co-op Job Search
I first heard about Co-op during my first year at SFU and immediately knew I wanted to partake in it. However, I was too occupied with adjusting to university life and finding a balance between school and my part-time job. When I was in my second year I started to pick up more hours at work and was too overwhelmed with school so I decided I would start Co-op the next year. Finally, during the second semester of my third year of my university career I decided that it was time to get started on the process of getting in Co-op. I had realized that there will always be work to do and that I needed to better prioritize and manage my time. It was time to start thinking seriously about my future after graduation.
It is important to remember that before starting the Co-op job search, there are mandatory workshops: a resume workshop, a cover letter workshop, and an interview workshop in addition to a two week online course. Luckily there is also a 3-in-1 workshop that consists of all the workshops in one session which was very convenient for a full-time student who also works part-time like myself. We were told that seeking for the first Co-op work term was the hardest, but I was very confident that I was going to secure a job the first try.
The Job Search
With the end of the semester drawing to a close and no luck with securing my first Co-op work term I began to feel discouraged, however meeting with my Co-op advisor, and the advice she provided really helped me keep going (special thanks to Liesl Jurock). With the help of my advisor I managed to get my very first interview. I was very nervous as I did not know what to expect. The only interviews I had were for part-time retail jobs so I decided to schedule a mock interview with my Co-op advisor which left me really confident, more so than I have ever felt for an interview before. I felt confident about the interview, however, in the end I ended up not getting the job.
Even though I was not able to secure my first work term in the semester I had initially wanted I definitely learned a lot about the job search process. It can be overwhelming and frustrating, but it is important to keep going and to feel confident despite all that. If I could change one thing about my Co-op journey as a whole, I would have better prioritized my time and started Co-op earlier in my university career. The process can be tedious, but the experience gained will be worth it in the end. It could give you an advantage over other candidates when applying for jobs after graduation. For students who are currently in Co-op, take advantage of meeting with your Co-op advisors for any questions, concerns, and for mock interviews. I may not have secured a work term during my first semester of Co-op, but am still currently trying for next semester. In the meantime, while trying to secure your first work term, it would also be to your benefit to volunteer and acquire relevant experience that would ultimately increase your chances and help you stand out among other candidates.