How to Find a Co-op
A cover letter/intro. letter is used to introduce yourself to the employer and tell them why you are contacting them. It is important to make yourself stand out from other applicants in this first important message to the employer. Your cover letter should be approximately 3 paragraphs, 2- 3 sentences each.
Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself and tell the employer why you are contacting them, i.e. position desired, referred by, etc.
Paragraph 2: Customize each cover letter to the job you are applying. Research the company and read the job description carefully. Tell the employer why you are interested in the company and the job and how your career goals, skills, knowledge, etc. match their company needs and goals.
Paragraph 3: Mention attached documents (resume, portfolio), Thank them for their time and identify a type of follow up response/request from the employer.
Create a list of employers to contact. Keep a list of employers who you want to contact and who you have had contact with. You can use a notebook, Excel sheet, or anything that works well for you. You can complete a co-op any where in the world. 50% of available positions are never advertised on job sites, so calling and networking are important job search strategies as well.
- Network - Attend job fairs, join professional associations/organizations, interact with fellow students, let family and friends know you are searching for a co-op. Connect with companies you are interested in on social media, connect with contacts on LinkedIn.
- Contact companies directly - Email or call companies directly to inquire about opportunities. Employers don't always advertise for positions. Request a tour, job shadow, informational interview. This shows interest and initiative.
- Check job search data bases, including Handshake. Search the internet with a simple search method. For example, if you want to attain a co-op in Cleveland, search for manufacturing companies near Cleveland, Ohio. This is the start of your list.
- Contact 5 - 7 companies every week, more as needed. The more you do it the easier it gets.
Follow up, follow up, follow up. It is important to follow up with employers. Follow up emails and phone calls are expected during the job search process.
- Choose the first employer on your list (maybe this is your dream co-op, or the co-op that will help you get to your dream job).
- Open your cover letter template and personalize it for the co-op you are applying to. This is the email message or cover letter for an online application.
- Attach/upload your resume as a PDF file.
- Add this company to your list of contacts.
Repeat, repeat, repeat. Contact and follow up with 5 - 10 employers each week (maybe more).
Follow up! This is very important. Sending your resume and waiting is not enough. Periodically following up is key. Employers needs change every day. If you have an updated resume, this is a great reason to follow up.
Create a Handshake account and get your resume approved by the Career Center.
Attend Networking Events! Networking is critical in attaining a co-op.
Typically interviews are scheduled at the employer's convenience, but most will work with you if you have limitations on times and dates.
Dress professionally and practice interviewing.
Pre-Interview - Get to know your potential employer. Company History, goods/services they provide or make, business locations, linked industries. This knowledge will allow you to speak about the company during the interview. Prepare a day or two before. Drive by the location if possible to locate the entrance etc., do you need a parking pass, change for a meter, etc. Bring copies of your resume, cover letter, references, portfolio, and a professional note pad and pen/pencil.
Interview - Dress professional. Business suits, ties, well groomed, etc. Smile, show enthusiasm. Be honest. Take note of who is interviewing you. Ask for a business card or write it down Be prepared to ask a question. The pre-interview research will help with this. Ask questions about the company. Be sure to thank those involved for their time.
Post Interview - Review your notes are there any instructions to follow up on. Complete an online application etc. Send a thank you email or handwritten letter within a few days of the interview (the sooner the better). If the employer gave you a date of when they expect to make a decision wait until after that date to follow up.
Promptly send a thank you letter to the interviewer. A sample thank you letter can be found here.
Follow up periodically until you hear a rejection. Follow up later asking why you were not selected and how you can improve. If you gain new skills, update your resume and try again in the future.
Once you have secured a co-op position you must apply/register the co-op on WorkNet in order to get academic credit. The co-op office cannot give retroactive course credit for a co-op that was not registered. Remember, the co-op is a course, and as such, there are assignments, site visits etc. Registration deadline dates are set by the university, the co-op office strives to meet the individual needs of students and employers to the best of their ability. Contact the co-op office with questions.
Once working at your co-op position, check your email. This is how the co-op office will communicate with you about the site visit, due dates, etc. Complete the appropriate co-op level report and submit it in the Co-op Canvas Course Shell by the report deadline date.
- maintain communication with the university via email
- complete the appropriate co-op report and submit it to the Co-op Office by the report deadline
- complete any required revisions, and participate in the co-op site visit
Thank your employer for your co-op experience. In business, it's a simple, but overlooked gesture that can leave a lasting and positive impression. A hand written note is an impressive personal touch, but an email is acceptable as well. This is your chance to leave on a positive note and further develop your professional network.
Co-op Prep Guide
Step by Step Co-op Search