A Co-op or internship position gives much needed experience to university students in their respective fields. This kind of position provides a student with a wealth of practical on the job training with a respectable compensation. The compensation is not what’s important here though, it’s the experience and network connections a student can gain while working inside an organization that is invaluable.
In today’s employment market, it is especially important to set yourself apart from your peers who are also looking for jobs. Moreover, in an economy where companies are cutting back on special training programs – employers are looking for candidates that not only have the theoretical knowledge but also the practical experience to do the job. This kind of candidate allows companies to save on training costs. As a student it can be especially difficult to meet
those criteria because getting a job can be trivial if you don’t have any experience, although to gain experience you must first find a job. It’s a malodorous circle but a Co-op/ Internship is an excellent way to get around it.
A Co-op experience
offers an opportunity to network and interact with individuals within your field.
This is the primary benefit of a Co-op/ Internship; you will get to network with people that you otherwise would never get to meet. What’s more, they were most likely in your position before – so they can provide you invaluable tips to be successful in your career. They can even become a life long mentor and reference assisting you in finding a job later in your career.
An interesting fact is that more than 60% of vacant positions within companies do not even make it to the job board. This is because, these positions are being filled by references and by people that employers know from previous experience. A successful Co-op or Internship work term can land you a job even before you have to apply for it!
Deciding if you can do the job for the next 45 years
I know personally, countless number of people who have spent $50,000 on an education and a year after graduating deciding that, what they have been studying for the past 4 years is not for them. As you can imagine, that is not a position that anyone wants to be in. This leads me to benefit number two – can you do the job for the next 45 years? The best way to find out is to actually do the job. This is why an internship or co-op experience can really help you.
Internship or co-op experiences are most likely to be short term, allowing a student the opportunity to test his or her interest in the field the job is in. There is usually no commitment at the end of the work term which works out great if you find that the career is not right for you.
Ace Future Interviews
A Co-op or Internship experience will make you more confident in interviews. Most interviewers follow the behavioral style of interviewing; this is an interviewing style that asks the interviewee a time when they demonstrated a specific skill – for example leadership and to also provide an example. Providing an example from a co-op or internship will enable you to offer a richer answer that will impress the interviewer. Furthermore, because you have answered from a previous work experience the interviewer will be able to relate to you.
Example question and answer:
Question: Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond in your work, volunteer or extra-curricular experience?
Answer: That is an excellent question; in my previous internship experience at Awesome Bank I was responsible for updating a spreadsheet for income tax allocations. I received the spreadsheet from Martha in Accounting before she left for vacation. I opened the spreadsheet and realized that I had no clue what was going on, the spreadsheet was a complete mess and only Martha herself knew what information it contained. Unfortunately, Martha was away on vacation and my manager wanted the updated spreadsheet from me in 3 days. Instead of complaining about it to my manager, I decided to see if I could
figure it out. It took me a while but I finally learned the process and understood what was happening the spreadsheet. The result was I was able to provide my manager with the much needed information without causing a delay. What’s more, is that I completely redid the spreadsheet, colour coded it and incorporated better formulas to improve its efficiency. This way anyone who opened that important spreadsheet would know what was going on – not only Martha. My work was much appreciated and as you can see from my end of term evaluation I received an Excellent for improving efficiency, leadership and taking initiative.
A Co-op or Internship experience can really give you the confidence you need to ace interviews because you will have excellent examples to back you up – like the one mentioned above.
Apply what you have learned in class:
Co-op or Internship opportunities are excellent ways to apply what you have learned in class. It really allows you to make sense of the accounting, mathematical, engineering, business theories that you were learning in class.
Other Important Reasons:
- Develop productive work habits, communication, and organization skills.
- Allows you to spice up your resume with impressive work experiences.
- Ensures that your resume gets noticed before your peers because you have the work experience advantage.
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