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As a mechanical engineer, I am required to complete 5 blocks of co-ops. A block of co-op is considered a three month, hands-on study in your specific field of study. You are able to apply the concepts learned in the classroom to real work. You get to see different companies and ways to apply what you’ve learn, and better see what you want to do with your degreefrom RIT. Often times, you see students complete 1 or 2 block co-ops with a variety of companies. If it seems impossible to find a co-op, RIT has many different features to help students find employment for co-op, internships,and full time jobs.
I took a co-op seminar class back in the fall put on by the Kate Gleason College of Engineering. In that class, the students were educated on the many different aspects needed to acquire a co-op. We were given resources that I still have today such as resume and cover letter tips. Program coordinators who work in the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services worked with KGCOE to put on the seminar to assist the students. In that seminar, I learned about an important resource, Job Zone. This is an online system which companies post job listings and the students of RIT can apply directly through the website. I often check the website to see of new job postings and opportunities.
The Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services also puts a variety of different events students can partake in to help in the co-op and job search. They often have days of mock interviews, where a company will come in and students can practice the interview process,so they are more prepared when the real event occurs. The co-op office will also review your resume and give you tips on how to best acquire the job of your dreams.
Every year in the fall and spring, RIT hosts a career fair that is only for RIT students and alumni. I attended both career fairs that occurred this year. When I went in the fall, it was basically a trail run. I was not looking for a co-op at the time, but I wanted to practice approaching companies and explaining why I would be an asset to their company. I didn’t think I was a memorable person, but I was completely wrong.
On Wednesday, our spring career fair occurred. There were over 160 companies present, recruiting RIT students and Alumni to work for them. There was a listing posted on Job Zone of the companies that would be present, so I went through the list and researched the companies and created a list of companies to approach at the career fair. I am trying to find a co-op for the summer, so I was hoping my trail run in the fall would help out. I am not expecting to find a job, but it was worth a shot. I began approaching companies, telling them how I would be an asset to them. I had a few successful conversations, handed out some resumes, and had a list of companies to go back and apply online. I tried to make a memorable impression on the employers, for there would be talking with hundreds of people in about 5 hours. I needed to stand out.
I went up to one of the companies I remember talking to in the fall. I approached the table with a smile, and before I could introduce myself, the employer spoke. He mentioned how he remembered me from the fall career fair, and that I stood out from the crowd. He also mentioned that he didn’t remember many people, but somehow I made a lasting impression. That comment made me realize that I have all the aspects companies are looking for, I just need the confidence in myself to go out and acquire a co-op.
When you are applying for a co-op or job, you need to stand out from the crowd; otherwise you will just be another name in the stack of resumes collected for the job posting.