How to Prepare for and Successfully Apply to Your First Co-op

Eric Kolb on Saturday, 06 October 2018. Posted in Co-op, Institute Requirements

Hi everyone! As most students at RIT do, you may be wondering how to go about starting your co-op search, and what to do before you go on co-op. Here are some things that can help you when you are getting started!

Start Early:

The best thing you can do when you are first starting to look for a co-op is to start looking early! If you need one for the Summer, start looking and applying the Summer before! I started applying to jobs the September before my co-op, and I started working in June! When you apply early, you get your name on the radar of companies before most people. If you impress them with your resume before most people even apply this gives you an edge. This also gives you a chance to apply to more jobs instead of cramming a ton of applications into one small period. It feels much better when you already have a ton of applications and you know that you at least have some time to spare. The more applications you have, the higher chance you have of getting an interview!

Make a Good Resume and Cover Letter:

Along with starting early, creating a visually appealing resume that displays your skills and achievements to employers will make it much easier to get an interview. Make sure that you check with multiple sources, including online templates, writing professors and advisors, and friends to give you advice on making your resume. Since everyone has different ideas on what makes a good resume, getting as many eyes on it as possible can make it much more successful. Along with this, a cover letter will make the employer feel like you have a personal interest in their company and relate your skills to them specifically. What I did to make my life easier was create a general cover letter outline and add employers names and a section about how I could benefit the company specifically. Cover letters are important because they give you a chance to explain more of your experience and relate it to your industry. It is important to say why you think you would benefit from the co-op, and how you think you could improve the company too. Even if a company doesn’t ask for a cover letter, submitting one anyway can make you stand out and show higher interest.

Take Advantage of Connections:

Chances are good that you have someone around you that has a connection to the industry you want to work in. In my case, my friend’s dad from home worked for a company looking for students with my major and the advisor for my fraternity worked for a local company in Rochester I was extremely interested in. Talk to your friends, professors, academic and co-op advisors, people in your classes, family members, and every person you can possibly think of about it. Use Facebook and LinkedIn to research everyone you’re connected with and you might find connections to companies you really want to work for. If you know someone inside the company before you even apply, they can push your resume to the top of the pile and will make it much easier to get an interview with the company. This also gives you something in common to talk about during your interview as well. Taking advantage of everyone you know can give you a much higher chance of scoring a dream job. A few of my friends got their co-ops from mutual friends, parents, or coworkers, so it can definitely work.

Following these pieces of advice can help you to lock down your first co-op at RIT. While these won’t guarantee you the job, they can help you be as prepared as possible and give you a head start!