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Student Potential

How to Find the Best Co-op Placement

December 11, 2023Back to Learning Centre

If you’re enrolled in a cooperative education program or a similar course of study that requires hands-on job experience, you’re already off to a strong start! While these programs can be more challenging to qualify for and complete, you’ll graduate career-ready, having had the opportunity to work in your field.

Finding the right co-op job isn’t always easy. Most schools will have resources or a collection of postings to help ease your search and application process. As with most jobs, applying does not guarantee employment, and the early bird typically gets the worm. With all these factors, finding a good placement can be stressful – but not impossible! Here’s 5 tips to consider while looking for a placement that is meaningful to you.

Spread the word

Let everyone know you’re looking for work! The word-of-mouth spreads like wildfire and most schools will have no issue with you arranging your own employment. A great benefit of using your network to explore your options is that it can significantly up your chances of finding a dream contract with the reference or help of your friends, family, and acquaintances. Even if you’re attempting to get hired through your school’s placement program, it still helps if others know you’re looking – your classmates, professors, and TAs might be inclined to let you know if they see a specific position or know of some promising leads that could help get you a great job.

Think outside of the box

Make sure you’re casting a wide net when doing your job search. Many larger companies have specialized departments that cover a multitude of fields. For example, if you’re in marketing, you might start your hunt by focusing on advertising or PR agencies. But almost every corporation out there has a marketing department. And if there’s a business you want to work for, try applying for a few different roles. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn wherever you end up and build a valuable network for your post-graduation pursuits.

Be proactive

If you see a posting that piques your interest, do a bit of research! Learning more about the company, its mission, and its goals can help you decide whether this is an organization you want to work for. It’s also good legwork for the interview – companies tend to prefer candidates who can draw from their knowledge of the organization when answering their questions. Showing a genuine interest in the interviewing company will always translate well in interview settings.

Take a risk!

If you have something specific in mind, take your best shot! This could mean reaching out to a company you want to work for, telling them what you can bring to the table and what you’re looking to gain with a job placement there. Some places will respond very well to this type of initiative – you’ll never know until you try! Craft a short message with the most pertinent details, inviting the reader to reach out to you. Ensure you send it to an actual person – those “contact us” form boxes aren’t usually monitored regularly.

Expect the unexpected

Many co-op programs require you to complete several placements to graduate. There may be some rounds where you’re placed somewhere less favourable and are just glad to have a job, even though it’s one you had not hoped for. It’s normal to be disappointed, but you stay open-minded; you might be pleasantly surprised once you start working there. Being placed out of your comfort zone only means you could discover a new interest or passion or get the chance to take on more responsibility.

Co-op is an excellent opportunity to get the experience you need to craft an impressive resume that will set you apart from your peers. It’s the cheat code for building your career. Whether you land the placement you were dreaming of or are working at your second choice, you’ll still learn to manage and navigate work in a way that will give you an edge in your future.

Written by Embark

Embark is Canada’s education savings and planning company. The organization aims to help families and students along their post-secondary journeys, giving them innovative tools and advice to take hold of their bright futures and succeed.