As I sat at my computer today, reconstructing my resume after having accidentally deleted the entirety of my university career's files - essays, resumes, cover letters - off my hard drive, I had a thought. One year ago, before I started Co-op, I believed that I knew how to create a fantastic resume. In fact, I was rather self-assured about it. There was no doubt in my mind that, were my shining, 1-page-long mecca of scholarly and professional experience held up against that of another, it would hold its ground. Now I realize that I was very wrong. The vocabulary and conventions that I now take for granted in the construction of this important tool for self-marketing were all learned through my involvement in the SFU Co-op program.
However, I have found that simply sailing through the Co-op experience does not allow for the skills building that I have been so fortunate as to acquire. If you take a moment to slow down and look, you will find that there are a number of tools available to the SFU Co-op student that set our university's Co-operative Education program apart from other leading universities. So long as we pay to use them, we may as well reap the benefits.
My tips for a successful Co-op adventure:
Bug your Co-op Coordinators. I mean bug them! When you begin looking for your first semester of employment, it is always a good idea to book an hour for resume and cover letter consultation, but why stop there? I bug my coordinators every time I prepare for a new work term. We consult over my cover letters. my interview skills, my poor taste in ties. And allowing them to get to know me has been rewarding as well. If your coordinators know you, then they know what jobs to recommend to you.
Next tip: Use the OLC. Do it. Not only can you create your own story briefly detailing your Co-op experience - which, believe me, is a procrastinator's dream, complete with spaces for photos and all - you can also use this tool to see what Co-op jobs other students have undertaken. Gone are the days of guessing whether or not a job is right for you. With multiple student testimonials available for each position you'll know exactly what you are getting yourself into upon submitting that application. While you are logged on, take a look at the Sample Interview Questions, too. Rinse, and repeat.
And finally, attend workkshops! For instance, the resume workshop is where I learned the bulk of skills that go into creating my CV today. This is a great way to get to know your Co-op Coordinators and to feel like you are a pampered, beloved student in a high school classroom once more. I highly recommend it.
A T.A. of mine in first year once advised me to work smart, not hard. Having taken full advantage of the job hunt-simplifying tools outlined above, I feel as if I have done just that. Now I complete job applications with ease, using the sheer wisdom with which my head has been stuffed. I also now struggle to squeeze my resume content into two pages - the Communication industry standard - because of all the expert advice that I have incorporated into this piece. Really, why struggle last minute applying for the wrong job when there are so many resources at your disposal to help you figure it out?