By: Lauren Creamer
There are many reasons a person might not be able to travel to or relocate for a job opportunity, the most common among them being 1) not having the ability to drive or access to a car, and 2) living at home, away from Boston.
This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a co-op– it just means you need to be strategic in your search and start as far in advance as possible.
If you know in advance that you will be confined to a relatively small geographic area, you should consider the state of the employment market for your discipline. Let’s consider the following example.
You are a biomedical engineering student who lives on-campus and doesn’t have a car. While the biotech industry is booming in Boston and Cambridge, there are many start-ups and small companies that don’t have the bandwidth or financials to support a co-op student.
What can you do in advance to identify hard-to-find opportunities in the city?
You can network at off-campus events. You can reach out to alumni through LinkedIn. You can apply to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Internship Challenge. You can go to the career fairs of other schools (yes, many will let you in even if you are not a student!). All of these avenues take time and effort to explore, so starting early is critical for your success.
The same is true for being place-bound to a suburban or rural area. You may have access to a car here, but what is the market like? Another example. You are an architecture student who needs to be home for your co-op semester due to a financial hardship. You live in suburban Connecticut and the firm options are few and far between. Again, you need to start early. Use resources like the Connecticut chapter of AIA to identify firms within reasonable driving distance. Talk with your advisor about less common options like working in construction or construction management.
I have seen students land great co-ops that meet their geographic restrictions and I have seen students truly struggle. The difference is in how prepared they were for their search.
I recommend incorporating the following actions into your search to yield maximum return:
- Apply to job postings early and often. Use the job search sites that make sense for you (location specific sites, generic sites that have location filtering options, professional organizations for your region, etc.).
- Follow-up within one to two weeks – on the phone, if you can.
- Make cold calls to inquire about potential opportunities, even if nothing is listed on a company’s site.
- Use your network – and Wentworth’s network – to identify opportunities.
- Connect with alumni on LinkedIn and build a relationship through informational interviews (do this early, so you can inquire about jobs at the right time).
- Ask your Co-op + Career Advisor if they know anyone else who has gone through a similar search. They may be able to connect you to that person, so you can learn from their experience.
Most importantly, talk about your plans with your Co-op + Career Advisor. A place-bound job search is incredibly active – you may not be able to rely on WITworks in the same way as your peers. That is OKAY. Your advisor will have tips that are specific to your major and personal situation. We are here to support you – whatever your needs!