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Nervous about your co-op term? Here’s 7 tips on how to have a great one!

Starting your first work term can be a bit daunting. In a lot of cases students don’t have any corporate experience. You’re suddenly put in a new environment with new people, completing tasks you might not be familiar with. The key to having a great work term is your mindset!Here are some tips I learned after 1.5 work terms:

  1. Challenge YourselfYour supervisor might ask you to do something you’ve never done before – but have no fear. The benefit of being a co-op student is that you’re allowed to experiment. You’re allowed to make mistakes, try new things, make novel suggestions and offer a new perspective. One of the main reasons employers hire co-ops is because they have a fresh take on things. Pushing boundaries helps you learn new things.


  1. Ask QuestionsIf you’re not sure about something it’s always better to ask (even if it seems stupid) than to assume and make easily avoidable mistakes. If you’re not sure about specific details for a project, clarifying will only improve the quality of your work. Asking questions makes your job easier. It’s also important to ask for deadlines if you’re not given any; it’ll help you manage your time and prioritize.


  1. Get FeedbackAsking your supervisor what’s expected of you really gives you a sense of direction in your tasks, and specific questions about your tasks will allow you to submit your best work. Constructive criticism helps you do better as you go and your supervisor will probably notice your progress by the end of the work term. Supervisors want you to succeed and getting feedback is not a bad thing, it shows you’re trying and they’ll give you tips to improve!


  1. Learn As Much As PossibleCo-op is all about gaining exposure to new things. If you keep that in mind while you’re working, you won’t be afraid to make mistakes. Doing new things allows you to learn. That’s what co-op is all about – taking risks and developing new skills. Remember- it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them!

  1. Know the IndustryThis one might depend on your position, but knowing the industry you work in will help you understand the company’s purpose. You’ll even see how your job fits into the grand scheme of things. It’s easier to do your work if you understand why you’re doing it. Knowing the industry will give you a sense of purpose during your work term – your work matters.


  1. Get to Know Your Co-Workers Talking to people in different departments is great because it’ll help you understand the company better – and you’ll make new friends. It might seem difficult to relate to your colleagues if you’re the only co-op student, but age is just a number. Everyone around you has interesting experiences so don’t miss out, make small talk on lunch break!


  1. Be ConfidentDon’t doubt yourself! They hired you because they believe you’re capable of getting the job done. They believe in you, and you should too! You’ll do great as long as you put in the effort. Hard work always pays off, so put your best foot forward.

Co-op is about learning and gaining experience. Nobody expects you to be perfect. Your supervisors are there to support you – they want you to learn too. Like anything else, your work term is what you make of it. Keep your chin up, try your best and you’ll be sure to learn a lot!

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