Tips of the Trade for Co-ops

Marissa Nelson – Junior, Women’s Soccer and Women’s Lacrosse, Architecture

Applying to co-op can be stressful when balancing school and activities. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources and support here at Wentworth to pursue your co-op aspirations. One tip of the trade that I’ve learned is it’s never too early to start applying. The worst thing a company could say is to try again in a few weeks, and it has the added benefit of getting your name in the mix early. It is important to have options and to apply to as many as possible. You never know where an opportunity can come from.

Going to the career fair and talking to employers helps give you a good idea if you would be interested in them and if they would be interested in you. Applying to my first co-op, I talked with a firm that was primarily construction management, even though I was in architecture. I was interested in their firm and was able to speak with the hiring executive and get an interview. Later on, even though I was not necessarily qualified, they liked my resume and skill set and offered me a position. Establishing this initial relationship can help create an opportunity. Consider challenging yourself and taking different opportunities is equally important. Even if you are not necessarily qualified or unsure if you will like the organization, it is worth taking that step to reach out the employer and make a connection. The worst that can happen is you don’t get a reply or you don’t get an interview, but at least you are putting your name out there for the next time. When I was applying to co-op, I had plenty of firms reply to me saying they were looking for a graduate, and they would be interested in having me in their firm in the future.

Following up with firms after seeing them, submitting resumes, and submitting emails is crucial, as those are the people that companies remember and reach out to. Small details like sending follow up emails, thank you emails, and using resume paper can go a long way. Practicing these lets employers know that you know how to be professional and you know how to work in a professional environment. Dressing professionally goes along with these same ideas. A lot of times, especially for design majors, you are remembered for your outfit. For example, on a job interview I went to once I wore a black shirt and bright yellow pants. In this interview I had an employer comment in a positive way how they appreciated the touch of color and how it reflected my personality in a positive way. It’s important to wear an outfit that makes you comfortable and reflects personality in a positive way because it will not go unnoticed.

Along with all of these tips, having a way to be reached on the internet is important too; this means creating a LinkedIn account. Many employers will ask if you have one, as a way to reach you, review your resume, and see your qualifications.

As long as you stay organized, apply early, and follow up with prospective employers, you should have success when applying, as I have! It can often be helpful to keep a notebook or piece of paper to keep track of where you’ve applied and their responses for future co-ops and jobs. Your first co-op is the most important one so take your time apply to a lot of different ones and choose carefully!

To learn more about our co-op program, please visit wit.edu/co-op.

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