Is the Telfer CO-OP program for you? If so, what company should you work for? What type of job should you get? What should you do to make the most out of your work experience? 

Although there is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions, what you choose to answer could have a big impact on your future. As a result, making decisions related to your work experience in business studies can be very overwhelming and stressful. 

As a marketing student entering my third CO-OP term, I have had to answer all of these questions three times. Each time, being unsure what to do, I sought out help from friends, the CO-OP office, my parents, and others who have taken or are currently in the CO-OP program. With the help of these experiences and advice from others, I have been able to put together a list of six do’s and don’ts that have helped me, and can also help you make the right decisions when it comes to the Telfer CO-OP program.

1. Do apply to the CO-OP program

co-op office in building

Getting meaningful work experience while completing your business studies is not always easy, especially when you consider that most students have very few things that they can put on their resume. Considering the uOttawa CO-OP program’s 97% placement rate in 2018, taking part in the program provides you with a very good chance of finding a placement in your field. A placement would not only help you pay the bills, but also help to set you apart in the competitive world of business. Are you still not convinced the CO-OP program at Telfer is for you? Check out this blog outlining even more reasons why Telfer students should apply to the CO-OP program.

2. Don’t be afraid to try something new

When it comes to trying new things and figuring out what you want to do in the future, there is no better time to do so then while you’re in CO-OP. With most CO-OP schedules in Telfer consisting of four work terms that last 4 months each, you have the luxury to experiment without having to make the same commitments that you would with typical jobs outside of CO-OP. The worst that can happen is that you realize a certain placement is not for you. In this case, you can move on quickly as the work term is short, and you still have 3 more terms left to find the right fit for you. On the other hand, while trying new things, you could discover an amazing job that previously you may not have considered. To add to this, from my experience, I have never met anyone who has not benefitted from any of their work terms. Therefore, if you want to try something new in CO-OP, just do it!

3. Do take advantage of the Telfer Career Centre and CO-OP services

career centre representative and student talking

Both the Career Centre at Telfer and the CO-OP office provide several services and workshops that help to give you an edge when applying to placements. They offer help for resume building, interview skills training, tips for how to dress to impress, career advice, and much more. Even if you think your resume or skills are pretty good, it never hurts to get a second opinion. I personally have used their services to refine my resume and for help on picking a placement. Taking advantage of these services could mean the difference between getting your first placement choice instead of your second.

4. Don’t apply to everything

Applying to everything could either mean you likely end up with way too many interviews or you get placed in a position you aren’t too interested in. As a result, you could miss out on a second-round placement that you potentially may have preferred. I get it, not knowing whether you will get a placement is stressful and striking a balance between applying to too many places versus too little can be very difficult, especially the first time around. However, before applying to everything, take a deep breath and consider the following: the CO-OP office has a 97% placement rating (the odds are in your favour); so if you don’t get placed in the first round there is always a second-round, and the CO-OP office is there to help you through the process.

5. Do consider multiple opinions

When you are making decisions and trying to answer the questions listed at the beginning of this blog, it is important to consider multiple points-of-view, and take everything with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, there are people that swear working in the government is the best while others swear by working in start-ups or large companies. There are multiple opinions out there, but there is no solution that fits all. When making decisions, keep other opinions and experiences in mind, compare them to your own career goals and don’t be afraid to test an idea out.

6. Don’t forget to make the most out of your work experience

three students looking at notes and a laptop

Whether you end up with a great CO-OP experience or you’re unlucky and pick something that wasn’t exactly what you were looking for, you should always try to make the best out of your situation. Take advantage of every opportunity presented, and if you don’t feel the opportunities are there, create your own. The CO-OP office helps you find a placement, but it is up to you to learn new skills, take on new challenges, and make your mark. 

All in all, when it comes to decisions related to your work experience in business, it can get stressful. However, if you take your time and take advantage of the resources, opportunities, and advice available to you, your Telfer CO-OP experience will go well!