Skip to main content
Beedie School of Business
SFU Co-op Student

empty
A woman in business attire smiles confidently for the camera in Blusson Hall.
Use these 5 tips to showcase your work at your next co-op interview.

As a first-time Co-op seeker with little real-world work experience, it can be daunting to read the words ‘work samples required’ in a job posting. Although your degree does an excellent job of teaching you useful transferrable skills, your classes may fall short in exposing you to the actual work that you will be doing at your first job. On the flip side, Co-op employers are aware of this and won’t expect you to present a tailored marketing piece at an interview (unless specifically requested). So instead of avoiding applying to “work-sample-required” positions, here are 5 useful tips for showcasing your work at your next interview:

1. Always Keep Your Work

Strong work samples show employers what you are capable of and can give you the edge in a job interview. That term paper that earned you an “A” and a comment from the prof? Use it as an example of your best writing. Do you write e-mails or newsletters for a school club? Make sure to save them.  Did you take a graphic design course? Keep a copy of your final project. Do you have a blog? A YouTube video you are proud of? All of these can work as samples.

2. Do Your Homework

Yes, you probably spent an hour or two on the mind-blowing cover letter and application that landed you the interview in the first place. But instead of ending all your hard work there, take some time the day before your interview to prepare your work samples. Print any written work. Put your design work or videos on a laptop or tablet. You want to make sure that everything is at your fingertips and ready to be presented offline during your interview.

3. Bring Multiple Examples

If possible, it’s good to have 2-3 different examples of work you’ve done. Perhaps you have a couple of writing pieces that showcase different styles, but  you also have some graphic design and video work examples that you’re proud of. Why not bring them all? Having a couple of options to choose from will prepare you for a variety of situations. (And your interviewer may want to see them all!)

4. Bring Extra Copies

While some interviewers will be satisfied with a quick glance at your writing sample, others may ask to keep a copy to help with the final hiring decision. You do not want to give out your original. Make sure you have at least two extra copies of your work with you, in case you are interviewed by two people at once.

5. Be Ready to Talk About It

Your interviewer will be happy to see examples of your work, but they also want to hear about it. Start by giving a general overview of what the piece that you’re showing is (ex. poster for a school club’s annual networking event) then talk about the goal or objective of the piece (ex. to promote an event, deliver a message), and your experience creating it (ex. was it an individual or group project? What tools/software did you use? Did you follow a strict structure or did you have unlimited creative freedom?).

Feeling awkward about bringing up your awesome examples? Often, employers will simply ask you to "submit' an example at the beginning or end of an interview. If not, you can show your work during the interview when answering a question that leads you to discuss one of your pieces. If you do not get that opportunity, simply ask “may I show you some examples of my work?” at the end of your interview. Chances are your interviewer will be very impressed by your preparedness.

Got questions about your work samples? Schedule an advising appointment or mock-interview with your Co-op advisor to prepare for the big day. 

SFU Co-op Student
Connect with Katya on LinkedIn.

Posts by Author

Kelly smiles next to a graphic that says, "Maximize Your Co-op".
Blog
5 Ways to Maximize Your Co-op Experience

Want to make the most of your work term and thrive in the position? Public Relations Intern Kelly shares 5 tips on maximizing your Co-op experience. 

Dave and his father sit on lounge chairs at the beach. A straw umbrella shades them from the sun.
Blog
Advice From My Dad: Make Yourself Irreplaceable

In this entry of Dave's Diary, Dave shares another tidbit from his dad. Read all about how Dave learned to bring value to the workplace in an innovative way.

A partly cloudy sky sprawls above a grassy prairie field.
Blog
Discipline Beats Time Management

Could learning discipline be the key to effective time-management? Here's what Dave has to say.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Career Exploration, Seeking, Work Term Extension

author, courtney, smiling
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

Having completed my first work term for Health Canada as a Communications Officer Intern, I was eager to try something new, and the government was not where I believed that was going to happen. That is until I was offered a position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

tower in ottawa
Increasing Your Chances of Working for the Government

With the stability and the opportunities that a government position provides, it’s not surprising that a lot of students are interested with working for the government. The What Can I Do in Government session gave students an opportunity to network with a panel consisting of alumni, current students and managers who are experienced in working for the public sector. Read on for some insights and tips that the panelists provided!

a portrait image of a woman smiling and looking into a distance
Self Discovery

In the changing labour market there are increased opportunities for seeking your own Co-op placement through a Self-Directed Work Search. In this 3 steps blog series by our career advisor Heather Williams, learn about how to successfully conduct self-directed work search from self-discovering to landing an informational interview.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

Mark Thompson head shot
Making the Most of the Co-op Experience: The Case for a Diversified Co-op Portfolio

Ever wonder what type of factors you should take into consideration when seeking out Co-op placements? Mark reflects on his rewarding Co-op journey to make some recommendations on how to best take advantage of the Co-op program!

an ice hockey game with the view of the rink
From Intern to Web Coordinator

Do you worry about making the transition from a student to a full-time employee? Well stop fretting and read on to find out how SFU alumnus Karen Sum transitioned from a Canucks intern to a full-time Canucks.com website coordinator.

Stephanie sitting at a desk typing
Opting for the Extracurricular: An Interview with PR Exec Stephanie Vicic

Trying to decide whether devoting your time to a club or professional association is right for you? Public Relations Executive, IABC member and former Communication Co-op student Stephanie Vicic gives insight into the value of pursuing the extracurricular. Read on!