Tips for Getting your First Co-Op

In late March, after eleven applications and five interviews for different Co-Op positions, I was offered a Co-Op job as an Emergency Care Worker at the Canadian Red Cross.

Finally! I can’t express in words how excited I am to be officially embarking on my first Co-Op term this summer.

A year into the pandemic after being laid off from my part-time job twice, applying for CERB, and many hours sitting at home wanting to help others during Covid, I am endlessly grateful to be starting a position at the Red Cross where I’ll be working at vaccine sites and other locations related to Covid-19 relief.

The process to secure a Co-Op has been certainly interesting, and I’ve learned a ton. So, if you’re starting to look for your first Co-Op (or second, or third, etc!), here are my best tips for starting your Co-Op search.

1. Utilize the built-in “shortlist”

The “shortlist” / “my saved jobs” function on the Co-Op and Career Portal was definitely my saviour when it came to organizing which jobs I wanted to apply for.

Anytime you press “save” on a job on the Co-Op job board it ends up in this shortlist, and it also keeps track of which ones you’ve already applied for or those that have had the position filled.

Organization is key in this application process, so I definitely recommend using this function as much as possible.

2. Apply for (or at least look into) any positions that look even the slightest bit interesting to you

Like I mentioned above, I applied for eleven Co-Ops before I was offered a position and some of them were certainly more appealing to me than others.

It is absolutely important to keep an open mind throughout this application process because a lot of them can be surprising in how much they actually pertain to your desired career field.

3. Tailor your resume and cover letter to every position

Doing this action definitely seems like a lot of work, but changing up your resume and cover letter for every Co-Op you apply to definitely goes a long way in setting you apart from other candidates.

Most importantly, you want to take work, education, and extra-curricular experience you already have and match that experience to the particular Co-Op’s job description.

For example, if one Co-Op position focuses on social media, you’ll want to highlight the skills and experiences you already have relating to social media in the resume for that Co-Op application.

4. Create different computer folders to stay organized

If you follow tip #3, and potentially have dozens of different resumes and cover letters for different applications, you’ll want to keep these files organized in clearly labelled folders on your computer.

Not only will this reduce clutter and probably some stress surrounding the application process, but you’ll be sure not to accidentally submit the wrong version of your resume.

5. Prep before your interviews

I definitely think spending at least 15-30 minutes before every Co-Op interview preparing for it helped me perform better in the actual interview.

Before each interview I opened a Word doc, took notes on the job description, wrote out my experiences that related to the qualifications, and did a bit of research on the company so I would be more familiar with who I was actually talking to.


Best of luck to you on any of your Co-Op endeavours!

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