Hello Everyone! My name is Ryan Padum and I’m the Chairman of DECA U Guelph for the 2018-19 year! I am entering my fifth and final year of the Management Economics & Finance program and today my goal is to encourage every single one of you to take strides in becoming a well-rounded business by pursuing co-op opportunities or internships. Experiential learning is one of the best ways of understanding a specific industry you may want to work in, as well as making amazing connections. Throughout my time at Guelph, I’ve had the privilege of working at;
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada
Lowe’s Companies Canada
Canada Revenue Agency
Valour Capital Management
Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Each of these jobs have provided me with unique experiences and today I’ll give you all some tips on making the most out of your co-op terms and internships, and how to better prepare yourself for your post-graduate career.
1. The Job Search
One of the toughest parts about being in a co-op program is undoubtedly the job search. Constantly applying to positions and tailoring cover letters to match job descriptions can be a very tedious process. However, take this as a fantastic learning opportunity; being able to tailor your resume and cover letter to showcase your top attributes is a skill that will better prepare you for full-time job opportunities in the future where the talent pool is far fiercer. One of the things I made sure to do when looking for new co-op positions was to always select positions that are unique and different than any other co-op term I’ve had in the past. This allowed me to make the most out of all 5 of my work terms and get a breath of understanding across so many different sectors. This further allows you to experience difference work cultures and is a big influence in helping you understand which environment you prefer working in.
2. Work Hard & Add Value to the Company
Now that you have received you job offer and gone through the recruitment process, it’s time to get to work. My number one goal of any co-op job or internship opportunity is to always find a way to “Add Value” to the corporation which I’m working for. Adding value to a company can happen in many different ways; at the end of the day it involves making sure you do something outside of your assigned work to showcase your skills and demonstrate to your managers that you are of value and an asset to the team. Whether it’s creating a new organizational layout for storing files in a shared drive, or a financial analysis project that will in turn boost revenues by 7% in the next quarter, make a point of demonstrating to management that you are able to deliver results and leave the company in a better shape than you found it in.
3. Make Connections
One of the best opportunities that so many interns and co-op students pass up is the ability to speak with co-workers and create connections. It’s no secret that over 80% of jobs today are sourced through networking and internal postings, therefore it is imperative to have a strong cohort of colleagues or former co-workers to turn to once on the full-time job search. Aside from having a strong network, the amount of knowledge I have gained over the years from simply speaking and learning from the past experiences of my co-workers has been simply incredible. Take my advice, speak with that one person on your floor who is always quiet and keeps to themselves. Similarly, speak with others who come from different backgrounds than yourself. Among us, there are those who have achieved the same goals as we are currently working towards or have faced the exact same problem in their career path that you seem to also be stuck in. Taking the time to speak with co-workers will hands-down make your internship or co-op placement much more rewarding and you may even meet some life-long connections along the way!
4. Explore and Have Fun
Along with being on a co-op work term or on a summer internship, it is common that you will most likely be working in a new city or in a place not familiar to you. Take the time to explore the city and see all that it has to offer. Along my co-op journey, I have been able to work in; Burlington, Mississauga, and Toronto. I found that all of these cities have so much to do and explore. So take some time to discover a new place for lunch, or a cool patio for drinks with co-workers. An important aspect of getting a new job is also the location it’s in. So ensure you take a moment to think about whether you envision yourself working and/or living in that city full time.
Most importantly, co-op work terms and internships provide us with the ability to escape from all the assignments and exams found in day to day studies. Have fun, and make the most out of whatever situation you may be in. Now you’re on your way to becoming a well-versed business student and ready to take on the world!
Chairman, DECA U Guelph 2018-2019
Internal Manager, Guelph Student Investment Council