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So You Want to Get a Co-Op—Interview Tips

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northeastern chapter.

There’s a good chance you chose to go to Northeastern largely because of the co-op program. Co-op allows students to obtain real-life work experience before graduation. Despite this, before you get the job, you have to ace the job interview. The interview process can be daunting for hopeful employees; although it might seem easy to talk about yourself, coming up with quick answers isn’t always simple.

Here are some tips to help you land your dream co-op:

Dress to Impress

Whether the office dress code is business professional or casual, it’s always good practice to look sharp at your interview. Sport a blazer and slacks or a pencil skirt and blouse to show your commitment to the position. Bringing a padfolio—find a cheap one on Amazon here or grab one from the NEU bookstore—adds a professional edge to your notetaking. When employers reflect on your interview, they won’t remember you solely from the answers you gave; dressing nicely will give them another point to look back on.

Attitude is Everything

Not every job you interview for is going to be your top choice, but you never want to let your interviewer know that. Always be optimistic about the position and make sure to show that through your body language: smile, listen actively, and be excited about the process! Employers are always looking for enthusiastic team members, so approaching interviews in this manner will help you stick out.

Come With Lots of Questions

Employers want to know that you’ve done your research and know about their work, but they also love answering your questions. Peruse the company’s website, take special note of its mission and values. And write down some questions based on the information you found or the position at stake. Example questions include “what does a typical day at _____ like?”, “what have past co-ops found to be valuable about this position?” and “how is success defined and measured in this work environment?” During the interview, jot down more questions based on what your interviewer tells you. By asking questions, employers know you’re invested in the position.

Prepare Beforehand as Best as You Can

There’s no way you will know every question an interviewer will ask before you meet them, but there are definitely common ones to look out for. In my own co-op search, I have found that questions about strengths and weaknesses, prior work experiences and how your Northeastern education is useful in the work environment are go-tos for employers. Based on this, write down a couple things you could say about yourself so you’re not scrambling for answers later.

Send Thank You Letters

This tip often goes neglected, but trust me, it can make a huge impact. At the end of your interview, ask for the interviewer’s email address in case any last-minute questions pop-up. When you get home, send a thank you email/letter to the employer and show your gratitude for their consideration. These individuals take time out of their workdays to speak to you, so be sure to show your appreciation! I was recently offered a job where one of the interviewers said I was the only applicant who sent a thank you note and it meant a lot to them to receive it. You don’t have to give your heart to someone you spoke to for an hour, but at least let them know that you enjoyed the conversation and look forward to possibly hearing from them.

Co-op search is undoubtedly a stressful time. Having five interviews in one week is not a walk in the park — believe me, I’ve been there. At least make the process a little easier by using these tips to put your best self out into the working world and getting that big name on your resume!

Ivy Saltsman

Northeastern '23

Ivy is a third-year Journalism and Media and Screen Studies major from Eastern Massachusetts. She spent her first semester of college abroad in Rome, Italy and loves music, theatre and meeting new people. Follow her on Instagram @ivysaltsman!