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Business Co-op Student

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Prioritize jobs based on how close each job is to your desired field of work... Lest you develop such a superb skill set for a career path that you later find yourself trapped in, pursuing only out of a sense of duty and over-commitment.

So, it’s three months into the seeking term, and you’re between term-end projects and final exams. It’s been a couple months of selectively applying to co-op postings with only one interview completed and no call back. At this point, you’re better off focusing on the projects and finals, but before you give up, you decide on one last round of job applications. You quickly shortlist a few Business Analyst postings from the co-op board and since you’re probably not going to have much luck with co-op so late into the term, you try Indeed for more permanent positions as well. With having tried one last time to apply to potential employers, you feel a little better about studying for finals.

But suddenly your inbox chimes.

Hmm... wait. Is that an email invitation to an interview? At a start-up looking for a permanent entry-level business analyst? You excitedly accept the interview and toss aside your books to prepare for the interview.

The interview comes around. The office is nice, the interviewer seems to like you, the company is new and ambitious, and they give you a brief about the role. They sound delighted with your performance and invite you back for a second interview soon.

That’s good news, right? But after the interview, you can’t help but feel the job description doesn’t match with what the interviewer described the role to be like.

Let’s pause here and check how your other applications are looking.

Well, would you look at that—a second interview invitation from a co-op job suddenly pops up within the span of a week. After all the excitement with the permanent position interview, you don’t have as much excitement left for this co-op interview. But you accept the interview invitation anyway because, well, why not?

You prepare, go to the interview, talk to the interviewers about the job, and make sure to ask when they will be making their decision. They tell you it looks to be a little more than a week. You think that by then you would have completed the second interview at the previous company and will be waiting for a decision. Alright, let’s professionally roll out of here and have a stressful weekend of cramming for finals.

You get two days' worth of uninterrupted exam stress before you receive an email with... wait, a job offer?

A job offer! It’s an offer for the co-op position! This is great, yes, but what about that follow-up interview you have scheduled with the other company? Hello, is anyone out there? I need some wise advice right about now.

Why, hello there. My name is Vicky, and I’d love to bestow upon you some wise advice based on my personal experience in a situation much like this.

1. Choosing the Right Path

What is the ideal job you are looking for right now? You have browsed lists upon lists of job postings this far into your job hunt. You probably have a good idea of what kind of work you want to do at this point in your career path. Between the two jobs, which one sounds like it would cultivate your repertoire for the path towards your dream job? Keep in mind that the real job often does not reflect the job description posted. I walked into an interview for a business analyst position and came out thinking I applied for a business development position. If you're seeking your first work term, you may be more open to accepting a position as long as it is within the expected area of studies you are pursuing—which is fair. 

However, if you are seeking your second or third work term, I’m going to assume you have a semi-solid understanding of what line of work you are pursuing. With this assumption, I will advise you to clearly prioritize jobs based on how close each job is to your desired field of work. Although working in sales or business development will provide you with a host of significant soft skills, such as communication and leadership, ensure you are also actively pursuing your desired position. Lest you develop such a superb skill set for a career path that you later find yourself trapped in, pursuing only out of a sense of duty and over-commitment.

2. Sacrifice a Little, Gain a Lot

"Money makes the world go round...", especially if you’re a student living on the gross salary of a part timer’s 8-hour work week like I was, "... however, happiness greases the axle" (Van Der Merwe). Between a job that did not match its description, offering a surprisingly generous pay, and a job that actually seems to offer you exactly what you imagined, but with a more modest pay—I urge you not to cave for instant gratification. If you do, it’s likely that you might end up disliking your job and would want to quit soon and, thus, beginning the job-hunting cycle all over again. 

Think of it as investing in yourself based on word-of-mouth. The job offering exactly what you imagined will enhance your qualifications for future jobs that you can be passionate about, while meeting your monetary requirements. Sacrificing the surprisingly generous pay now, will give you a lot more in the future. 

3. Start-Ups and Their Chic, Trendy Allure

My last piece of advice is to analyze if a start-up is right for you before you jump on board. Nowadays, everyone wishes they have a start-up company listed on their resume. But other than the risk of a start-up's uncertain foothold in an industry, think also about the team size and the jobs needed to operate a company. You will likely have more on your plate than what you originally anticipated. Carefully consider the company team, environment, your stamina and personal life. 

If you ever find yourself in this difficult position, take a moment to reflect on this advice. What skills do you need to achieve your future career goals? What will sacrificing a certain aspect allow you to gain moving forward? And is this position, employer or business the right fit for you, your abilities, and needs?

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