My name is Madison Boyack and I am the Director of Communications and Outreach for the 2018-2019 year. I am currently in my fourth year of the Marketing Management (Co-op) program. Having completed several co-op work terms by now, I understand the stress that can come from applying to co-op jobs while maintaining a regular course load, extra-curriculars and a part-time job. It can definitely be a hectic process but I have also learned that with a bit of preparation, your co-op search can be a lot smoother. That being said, I thought I would share with you my checklist for a successful co-op search.
Learning about the company and the job that you are applying to is a very crucial step in the application process. Reading over the job posting and researching the company’s website allows you to tailor your application to the specific position and the skills that they are looking for.
2. Updated Cover Letter & Resume
Your cover letter is the first thing that employers will be reading about you. You want to ensure that you are giving a good first impression and using the space to explain who you are and why you would be a good fit for the job.
As well, an updated resume is key when applying for co-op jobs. You want it to be between one and two pages in length. For most students, co-op jobs are the first relevant experience that we have in our field of study. When I was applying to my first co-op job, I had little to no relevant experience for the jobs that I was applying for. That’s why it is important to have 2-3 bullets describing your experience and the skills that you gained from each position you do have experience in. Being a server has no connection to Marketing, however mentioning the communication skills and multitasking abilities that I gained from that experience are things that employers are looking for.
4. Networking & Preparing References
Networking is very important when looking for co-op jobs. Be sure to talk to your relatives, neighbours and family friends, mentioning that you are looking for a placement. This can expose you to many new opportunities. My suggestion would be to create a LinkedIn profile to build your professional network and stay connected with the people that you meet.
When applying for jobs, it is also important to have a list of about three references with their names, phone numbers and emails to provide in interviews. These references can be past employers, teachers, people you have volunteered for, etc. Choose someone who would speak highly of you and can endorse the skills you have listed on your resume. Also, be sure to get their permission before giving their contact information to potential employers.
5. Practice Interviewing
Once you have submitted your resume and cover letter, the next step is interview preparation. The most important thing is knowing about the company that you are interviewing for. The last thing you want to be asked is “What do you know about our company?” and not being able to provide them with a suitable answer. Before heading into an interview, you can also take the time to anticipate the questions you are going to be asked and organize what you would like to say. Most interviewers are going to ask you to tell them about yourself, what your strengths and weaknesses are and why you want the job or think you would be a good fit for it. Always prepare these answers before going to an interview. Along with these basic interview questions, interviewers may ask you situational questions such as “tell me about a time when…” The trick to answering these questions is to follow the “STAR” approach which is where you explain what the Situation is, the Task you had to complete, the Action you took and the Result of the experience. The last thing to prepare for would be several questions that you would like to ask the employer once the interview is over.
There are also many great services that the University of Guelph offers where you can practice your interview skills, such as Peer Helpers.
6. Follow Up
Approximately 1 day after your interview, take five minutes of your time to follow up with the hiring manager by sending a quick thank you email. This is the perfect opportunity to highlight your relevant qualifications, show your excitement about the position and mention important details that might not have come up in the interview. Thanking the interviewer for taking the time to meet is the most important action you can take post-interview.
I hope you have found my Co-op search tips helpful. Good luck with the job hunt!
Director of Communication & Outreach
DECA U Guelph 2018-2019