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While on Co-op


Making the Most of Your Co-op

Before You Leave

Your summer co-op may be winding down or you may be gearing up for a second block. In either case you have the opportunity to make a positive lasting impression on your employer that can be impactful for your career.

Here are five tips on how to make the most of your experience.

  • Make connections and stay connected through LinkedIn:
    Be very, very vigilant about connecting on LinkedIn after every new face-to-face interaction. A short thank you or kind note to co-workers and supervisors will help to build a robust social network on LinkedIn. Every time you get a business card—assuming you still get paper business cards—enter the person’s information into your contacts and reach out to that person on LinkedIn. Also, asking for recommendations on LinkedIn is a great way to get the most out of your connections on the job.
  • Complete all of your projects:
    Make sure anything you have outstanding is completed and that you have returned all materials and proprietary information to your employer. Tie up loose ends neatly and make sure projects are submitted in a polished, professional manner.
  • Ask for feedback:
    Ask for a brief face to face meeting with your supervisor to go over your co-op evaluation and receive feedback on how you performed on the job. Asking for feedback will help you to grow professionally and shows you have an interest in the work you did.
  • Don’t forget your co-op work report!
    Make sure you complete your co-op work report. Don’t get an ‘F’ on your transcript because you put off completing the report. Get it done before you leave the co-op. Check with your program coordinator or look on your department website to see how to submit your report, and to whom.
  • Say ‘thank you’:
    Saying thanks goes a long way. End on a positive note by thanking your supervisor as well as your co-workers for taking time to train, mentor and answer your questions.

Tips from RIT Co-op Students

"Know what you are good at and what you aren’t. Your first Co-op should work to your strengths so you can get a good recommendation, but it should be difficult enough so you won’t get bored. You are in college to learn and experience, but make whatever job you get work for you as well."

"Do not be afraid to ask questions! You are not expected to know everything at first - that's why you do the co-op!"

How to Receive "Credit" for Your Co-op Experience

Just a reminder to be sure to check that you have everything submitted in order to get credit for your co-op. As you know, co-op is graded on a pass/fail basis by your academic department. To receive a “Satisfactory “ (“S”) grade for co-op on your transcript, the following evaluation documents must be completed and submitted for each term you are employed:

Employer Evaluation of your performance. A link to a customized evaluation form is emailed to your employer by the Office of Career Services & Co-op during the midpoint of each term you are on co-op. This evaluation must be filled out by your supervisor and submitted for review. Please check with your supervisor to make sure that they have received it and encourage them to fill it out as soon as possible. Also ask if your supervisor is willing to sit down and review the evaluation with you – it is always good to get feedback on your performance!

Student Co-op Work Report. Many of you (students with a mandatory co-op requirement) will also need to write your own “work report” or evaluation of your job. This report (with some exceptions depending on your major) is available to you via your Handshake account during the midpoint of each term you are on co-op and should be completed prior to the last day of the academic term.

Failure to receive all necessary evaluations may result in an “F” on your transcript so it is important for you to follow the guidelines set forth by your department. If you are unsure of the exact procedure for your particular major, please review “Your Co-op Quick Start Guide” which can be found on the cooperative education page of our site or through your program coordinator.

Workplace Tips for Co-ops

Now that you’ve started your co-op and you’re on the job, here are some valuable tips to help you stay in good standing with your employer and keep the job!

Learn e-etiquette

This is one of the toughest transitions for new grads to make. Detaching from the continuous connection to technology may be difficult but necessary in the workplace. For example you should curb your personal email use. Employers are now using sophisticated software to monitor your usage and can see, remotely, what you are doing online. You can be terminated for inappropriate use of email so find out what your company’s policy is.

While you may think using an MP3 player helps you get through your work better many managers feel it hampers face to face communication among colleagues. Texting is also a major issue. Avoid texting during meetings and constantly having your phone right in front of you. Utilize breaks and lunch hours to update your Facebook page or return text messages. Remember, people are watching even when you don’t know it.

Suggestions for using cell phones in the workplace

  • Use may be restricted to breaks—know your company’s policies.
  • Stand apart from others when speaking so as not to interfere with others’ work or conversation.
  • Avoid discussing personal issues on a cell phone when co-workers can easily overhear you. Keep your cell phone strictly as an accessory, avoid laying it down on a desk or table in front of co-workers or clients (have a holder or special place for it).
  • Turn it off when in meetings; even a vibrating cell phone can be distracting.
  • Think twice before taking photos with your phone camera; doing so may be against company policy.

Concerns On Co-op

Dealing with stressful and uncomfortable situations can be part of the workplace learning experience. As with every other aspect of experiential learning, the University and your Career Services Coordinator are here to support and guide you as necessary.  If you encounter a concern, we encourage you to contact your Career Services Coordinator so we may offer advice or assistance in resolving the matter.  It is important to address issues as they arise, rather than postpone such a discussion or ignore the problem.   Examples of workplace issues that we can assist with range from coaching you on how to talk with supervisors regarding your work related concerns, how to address conflicts on your team as well as discrimination and harassment complaints.  Be sure to call or email us if you have any questions or concerns.