Skip to main content
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
SFU Co-op Student

empty
A person typing on a computer.
Credit
cottonbro on Pexels
As a Co-op student, I have had to overcome my own self-doubt when it comes to my abilities. If you take anything from this guide, I want it to be: have confidence in your abilities as a Co-op student.

You probably know that dreadful feeling you get after opening an email that is so long your finger gets tired from scrolling. Likely, you were too consumed by the pain in your index finger during that moment to even retain any of the information written in that email. Please…don’t be that person who inflicts this pain on others!

For the past four months, I have been working from home in a communications Co-op role. During this time, I have realized the (often overlooked) importance of proper email etiquette. While the process of sending an email may seem intuitive, there are many considerations that should be made before hitting that “send” button. Therefore, I present to you, essential email etiquette tips every employee should know.

Know your audience

One of the most interesting email tips that I learned throughout my Co-op position is; there is not one “right” way to send an email. Everyone has their own preferred way to communicate and to be communicated with. Therefore, as the sender, it is your job to observe the emailing behaviours of your recipients and adjust your responses accordingly.

You will notice that some people prefer friendly chitchat and using emojis in their emails, while others prefer to get straight to the point – neither are “wrong”. By showing people that you understand their preferred communication style, you will also create a stronger working relationship with them.

Is email really the best medium?

Although email is a heavily used form of virtual communication in the workplace, it is not always the best medium for getting your message across. Next time you’re typing out an email, consider this question: Is email really the best way to communicate this message, or would a phone call/video chat/text message be a better option?

Be respectful of the recipient's time

When the recipient is opening your email, they should not have to search for more than 10 seconds to find the email’s purpose. I recommend you bold, highlight, or change the text colour of the most important information in the email. That way, even if your recipient is busy, they will absorb the most important information first.

Make proper use of that subject line

I always knew that it was important to make sure the subject line was reflective of what you say in your email, but until this Co-op position, I had not realized the true potential of that handy subject line.

For example, when I’m sending an important email now, I like to include in the subject line “Please review by end of day” or “Immediate action required” to ensure that important information, like due dates, are easily visible. On the other hand, when sending an email that does not require a response, say something in the subject line like: “No reply necessary” or “No action needed at this time”. Trust me with this type of formatting, the recipient will be thankful to have this information clearly visible in their inbox.

Your email matters

As a Co-op student, I have had to overcome my own self-doubt when it comes to my abilities. I’ve often caught myself starting off an email with those insecure words “so sorry to bother you” in fear of coming across as a nuisance. If you take anything from this guide, I want it to be: have confidence in your abilities as a Co-op student.

Just because you’re an “intern” doesn’t mean that what you have to say is not important (hint: especially if you’ve checked off the steps above!). Being confident in your email delivery will likely make the recipient more respectful toward you and take their time to send you a more thoughtful response.

SFU Co-op Student
Connect with Genevieve on LinkedIn.

Posts by Author

Me on the right talking with one of my peers about the Burnaby Mountain gondola! I was enthusiastic about the project and engaging with the public.
Blog
What IS public relations? My Co-op experience with SFU Communications and Marketing

“What is public relations?" This question feels as vague as someone asking me what majoring in Communications studies leads to. I admit that I want to pursue a career path in this industry, but I have repeatedly asked myself this question throughout my academics. In my search to find out, my experience working as a Communications Assistant in SFU’s Communications and Marketing office has given me a clearer picture of public relations.

Three people behind a desk writing notes next to a Life Sciences BC billboard
Blog
What I Learned About Personal Values During My First Co-op Work Term

Your Co-op seeking term is full of opportunities. But without an idea of what you’re looking for, it can be overwhelming. As a newcomer to the communications field, I spent my first seeking term sifting through job after job like a deer in headlights, not knowing what to look for and where to look for it. Continue reading to learn how working with a company that shares my values enhanced my co-op experience.

man sitting at office desk holding dog
Blog
Why Co-op is the Most Important Thing You Can Do as an International Student

Being an international student from Bangladesh, I always felt that I did not have the necessary network to succeed in the Canadian workforce even though I feel strongly about my ability to work hard and grow. I felt anxious when looking at my peers who have been working in a job since the age of 16 whereas I was just getting started. This is when I was introduced to SFU Co-op. 

You Might Like These... Co-operative Education

Courtney smiles next to a caption that reads, "Courtney Novotny during her work term with Health Canada".
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

How do Communications Co-op jobs differ between federal departments? Read all about Courtney's experiences as she compares her first co-op with Health Canada to her second co-op with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Korea
International Spotlight: Korea

Bordered by China, Russia, and separated from Japan by the Korea Strait, Korea makes for a strong international hub of Asia.

Iris at her workstation in the lab
Student Spotlight: Iris Eom

The OLC talks to Iris Eom, 3rd year MBB, Computing Science joint major. Keep reading to learn about her experience at the UBC James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre at St. Paul's Hospital.

You Might Like These... Work Term Extension

Elise and coworkers
Movin’ on Up: How to Accelerate Your Climb Up the Corporate Ladder | Part Two

Is career advancement on your mind? Whether you are a current student, a recent grad, or have been in the workforce for a couple of years, for many of us, improving our position never seems far from our minds. Read on to find out about how you can move up the corporate ladder as a student.

Thompson Community Centre
My Fitness Journey

Kenneth Moy is a Kinesiology student who spent his co-op placement at Thompson Community Centre. Read on to find out what he learned after four months as a fitness professional.

Traveling Image
5 Ways to Avoid the Long Distance Travel Blues

A long bus or plane ride is associated with awkward social situations, a lack of food options, the weird tiny bathroom in the back, and of course, trying not to become mind-numbingly bored.  I’ve investigated past personal experiences to build a survival guide to avoid the long-distance travel blues.