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5 Lessons I Learned Throughout My First Co-op Search

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

I remember when I was first applying to the retail management co-op program, I was unsure of what to expect. After all, many people approach co-op in many ways.

Some say co-op is simply not worth it, as you’ll have to pay extra fees, while others say it helps you gain the work experience you’ll need before you graduate.

Co-op seemed to be a pretty big deal to me at first, mainly because I wanted to try new roles and gain new experiences. But with that being said, securing a position wasn’t easy. 

Here are five lessons I learned throughout my search: 

Just because you don’t have much work experience doesn’t mean you have a terrible resume 

Employers expect you to learn as a student. They don’t expect you to be knowledgeable about the field you’re applying to. Hence, no matter how much work experience you have, you can still whip up a good resume.

Just be sure to emphasize your soft skills, such as communication or listening, extracurricular experience, and willingness to grow. 

Apply to various jobs

You may be looking for a certain type of role whenever you’re applying for positions. But regardless of which position, applying for various roles will not only strengthen your chance of an interview, but it will also open new doors for you.

Many of the roles for which I’ve gotten interviews or offers are roles I didn’t expect or want to apply for initially. 

YOu’ll learn more about your strengths and weaknesses

Even if you haven’t started your co-op term yet, the application process will allow you to explore your strengths and weaknesses. This process may also allow you to gain a better sense of direction in terms of a career path.

For example, I initially thought I would land a marketing or sales-related position. However, while submitting my application, I learned that marketing or sales were no longer at the top of my list, and I discovered that they wouldn’t reflect my strengths as much as I wanted them to. This allowed me to set more specific career goals. 

don’t rely on employer kindness during the interview

During interviews, multiple employers or recruiters would act courteous or encouraging. Hence, you may be tricked into thinking you will be offered the position.

But you shouldn’t keep your hopes up: You didn’t get the job until you received an offer letter in your inbox. 

pay attention to red flags throughout the interview

Interviews are a great way for you to learn more about the company and its work environment as well.

So, be sure to watch out for red flags: Was the employer late for the interview? And did the employer say that you’ll have to work odd overtime hours?

Notice these red flags before the job begins in order to see if you’d prefer to proceed with your placement or not. 

The co-op job search is stressful, but you can learn a lot of lessons from your interviews and experience. Once you finish your first job search, you’ll learn a few lessons which you can incorporate into your future. When you accept the first offer, you’ll learn more about yourself than you thought you would.

Good luck with job hunting!

Candice Zhang

Toronto MU '26

Retail Management student at TMU who loves coffee and writing more than people.