As someone who has completed four Co-op terms, a lot of people ask me about why I dedicated so much time to Co-op. Even when I explain that it's the main reason I have a job for after graduation, other students still doubt that Co-op is worthwhile.
Here are some of the doubts, excuses and misunderstandings that often lead to students making one of the worst mistakes they could make in their university career - not joining Co-op. My goal is to break down these mental roadblocks in hopes of helping other students to realize just how valuable Co-op can be to their future.
"But, it’ll extend my degree"
Picture five years of your life.
You spend the first four powering through school, working at a part-time job or just hanging out during summer semesters, and then spend a whole year (or more) after graduating trying to materialize a job from your fancy piece of paper and non-existent professional network.
Alternatively, you could intersperse your four-year degree with 3-4 co-op terms, and graduate a little later with at least two career-relevant work experiences under your belt and a flush network of contacts. The latter means that immediately after you throw your grad cap, you’ve got - at a bare minimum - two organizations you can call the next day that are highly likely to hire you (given you worked hard during your term).
"But, it's costs money"
You’ve probably realized by now that university is expensive.
However, which do you think is a better investment? That elective about rocks you took as a B-credit, or an industry-relevant practicum where you can maintain full-time student status? Throughout a degree, you pay hundreds of dollars to take a course focused mostly on theory. Why not get paid to learn skills guaranteed to serve you in future jobs?
The Co-op team and program are working hard for you - scoping out employers, developing resources and corresponding with you and your employer about your experience. After university, you’re on your own if your boss is being a jerk, if you’re terrified of interviews, or when you’re faced with a million other problems associated with establishing yourself in a new career - all without the help of the Co-op team. Use the resources while you can. It’s more than worth it.
"But, I don’t want to quit my job as a... (clerk, barista, bartender, etc.)"
Getting a paycheque every two weeks is comfortable. Especially if you’ve been working at the same bank, restaurant or coffee shop for years.
However, progress requires risk. Unless you intend to spend the rest of your life at that job, you need to branch out. Co-op is an unprecedented opportunity to access hundreds of potential positions – exclusive to Co-op students – in the field you’re passionate about. Although it’s fun to work with your friends at an easy job, it’s so much more rewarding to love what you do, and work with people who feel the same way. There will always be another barista job. There won’t always be another opportunity to start a career.
"But, the application process seems complicated"
I feel like this is only a concern for those who have never looked into the Co-op application process – it’s dead simple! Here is the process in 6 steps:
1. Apply to the co-op program. Here’s the form. It even auto-fills. It takes 5 minutes.
2. Pass a two-week online course that teaches you about the job application process, and how to market yourself
3. Go to a one-day workshop (or three small ones) to prepare for your job search
4. Apply for jobs via Symplicity (they help you with this)
5. Interview for jobs (they also help you with this)
6. Pass another two-week online course about office etiquette after you land a job
Ta da! You’re done the process and have a job.
I hope this has helped break down some of the barriers between you and your first Co-op term. It’s never too late. Please - sign up now!
Beyond the Blog
Still not convinced? Check out 4 more misconceptions debunked: 4 More Misconceptions About Co-op You Need to Burn Right Now. Or you can always email the co-op team and get clarification about the things stopping you from starting your career through Co-op.