After completing 6 Co-op work terms, one thing I really enjoyed about my Co-op experience is that I had the opportunity to gain work experience from different types of organizations. I started with a 5-person non-profit organization, then to a 20-person start-up, and then landed my dream Co-op at a large 100,000+ person multinational tech corporation. One thing I’m thankful I realized early on in my Co-op journey is this: don’t be turned off from doing a Co-op with a small organization.
Without my Co-op experiences prior to joining this large tech corporation, I would not be where I am in my career today. I honestly wish I realized this sooner because when I first started applying for Co-op jobs, I applied to about 50 Co-op jobs and was rejected from all of them. The majority of the organizations I was applying was for were big companies, but as soon as I realized I just needed experience, I gave the smaller, not well-known organizations a chance. That’s when I finally got a Co-op job offer. I’m so glad I ended up applying to small organizations because they gave me the opportunity to kick off my digital marketing career.
I knew early on in my university journey that one of my career goals was to work for a corporation one day. However, it’s not easy to land a job at a corporation as your first co-op/internship, especially as a university student who is just starting their career. At the end of the day, you just need the experience to further your career and open more doors. It’s usually just a 4-month Co-op term, so the commitment isn’t too long and the invaluable experience you will get to add to your resume from those 4 months will help you tremendously for your next role and open many doors. I found it a lot easier to find my next Co-op after completing just 1 work term. I would not be where I am today in my career if I didn’t give the 5-person non-profit organization I worked for a chance. I was given a lot of projects that I was able to complete from start to finish and they were relevant to my career goals. This helped me build out a big portfolio and made my application stronger when I was looking for my next Co-op. You also get to grow your network and you can ask your supervisor to be your reference as you search for your next job.
After that first Co-op work term, I then completed a full year of Co-op at a start-up that had 20 employees. Working in tech is something I’ve always been passionate about and working at a start-up is a good way to get your foot in the door. I wasn’t planning on working at a start-up originally because, again I wanted to work for a corporation, but I’m so thankful for that experience because it really defined my career goals. I was the only digital marketing Co-op student and because of that, I was given a lot of autonomy and ownership over my projects. I got to try so many different types of projects at this Co-op. From social media, video editing, graphic design, to blog writing, I really got to build a toolbox of skills to further my career goals. I also loved that I was able to get to know all of my colleagues very well due to this start-up’s close-knit company culture, and they were all great mentors. If I didn’t give this small start-up a chance, I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career.
The skills I’ve gained from these small organizations are all skills my current job now requires me to know. These experiences really opened up many doors for me.
I hope this blog post will help you feel less discouraged when looking for your first Co-op placement because trust me I’ve been there, I know the struggle. If you don’t remember the majority of what I’ve written in this blog post, please remember this at least: a Co-op at any organization can positively affect your career and help your resume stand out. Every experience counts! Good luck, you got this! I wish you all the best!