By: Lauren Creamer
I’m a sophomore and I didn’t get an optional co-op this summer… what should I do?
The summer co-op deadline has come and gone, and you might find yourself disappointed that you weren’t able to find an optional co-op. I’m here to tell you that it is OK – there is so much time left in your summer. There is plenty to do to prepare yourself for your first mandatory co-op.
You can keep searching for co-ops. Our co-op reporting deadline is early because Wentworth operates on a trimester system – our classes end earlier than most other schools’. This also means that employers who are looking to hire summer co-ops might not have their recruiting cycles quite synced with ours. You can still find postings on indeed.com, engineerjobs.com, etc. And on the websites of employers. And you can still apply to these jobs! You just won’t be able to get co-op credit for them.
You can find a part-time job in your field, or a shorter work experience. Fun fact: if an employer comes to us seeking a co-op student past the deadline, we encourage them to post their position as a part-time role on WITworks. This will give you direct access to the job on the same platform you’ve been using to search all along. You can also use other job search sites to identify part-time work related to your field. Now that you don’t need to abide by co-op guidelines, you may find opportunities opening up left and right.
You can set-up some job shadows. You don’t have to commit to a new job to get experience and exposure in your field. Employers that wouldn’t otherwise be able to hire you may certainly be willing to have you in for a few days to a week, so you can learn about the work they do. This will help you build professional connections, too. Employers are impressed by commitment to the field outside the classroom, and this is an easy way to show you are dedicated to learning about your future profession.
You can do a bunch of informational interviews. Don’t have the time or transportation to commit to a job shadow? Consider using LinkedIn or your personal network to find folks with whom you could do informational interviews. This could be in-person, but over the phone works just fine. Similar to the job shadow, you would be learning more about your field and making connections you could later utilize.
You can volunteer at a non-profit in your field. If your technical discipline overlaps with the non-profit sphere, you should consider volunteering. This could be as little as one day per week where you would be exposing yourself to a specific work environment, learning about your field, and giving back to your community.
You can be intentional about identifying how your seemingly unrelated part-time job or familial obligations may be preparing you for a co-op. I know that, for some of you, the above suggestions are simply not realistic options. And that is OK. If you need to be working a job that pays well (but isn’t related to your field) or you need to be caring for family, we in CO-OPS + CAREERS understand. Your experiences are still valuable! Consider what transferable skills you are building. Are you honing your communication skills? Have you developed strong customer service skills? Are you utilizing your troubleshooting skills in a different environment?
Whether you spend the summer working in your field, setting-up professional development opportunities, or building transferable skills, the experience you add to your resume will be a strong asset you can bring to your mandatory co-op search.
As always, to speak with your Co-op + Career Advisor please stop by our office on the first floor of Wentworth Hall across from Admissions during summer drop-in hours 2:00-4:00pm or call our front desk at 617.989.4101.