Stages of the Co-op Search

Last semester, I went through another co-op search term. There’s no doubt that it felt like a very long term but I’m excited to say that it went well!

But since I’ve just been through a co-op search term, I’ve decided to write about the stages so you can have the same experience — which would usually take a few months — within five minutes.

1. Excitement

Arguably the best stage of the job search term. This stage provides all of the excitement without any of the stress.

You log into Brightspace and see that a new Brightspace course has popped up. It has an announcement that reads, “Welcome to your co-op job search!” 


2. Back to the Basics

First things first, updating a resumé and/or LinkedIn profile. Is it updated? Should it be completely re-written? 

You add new work and volunteer experiences, any certifications you’ve received, and update your education section possibly.

It looks great, to you at least. But a second opinion couldn’t hurt, so you ask your co-op office for a bit of help.

Next, you log in to LinkedIn and go to edit your profile. Are you using the right words to explain your experiences? Updating a profile on LinkedIn is like updating a resumé, but the information is between you, employers, and everyone else on LinkedIn. No pressure though. 


3. Planning

What type of job do you see yourself doing? 

It’s only the first week in, and there are already 42 job postings, all of which seem interesting.  

You calculate: 5 jobs every week? Sounds good. It’s essentially 20 jobs a month. But how about applying to 15 jobs a week? Obviously, that means you’ll find a job three times as fast… right?

A spreadsheet, Notion, checklist? You’ll probably use one of these to make the most detailed plan with how many jobs you want to apply to, their application deadlines and the stages of your application. If you’re lucky, you might actually keep updating it as the semester goes on, but realistically you won’t.


4. Applying

The one constant during a job search term is applying to positions because getting an interview invite does not mean that you should stop applying. 

It’s time to read through the job postings. Either you’re interested in everything or nothing. There’s no in between. 

You filter positions by application deadlines. Applications for all the jobs you’re interested in are due this Friday at 10 am. Sadly, you’re looking at these on Thursday evening. 

You work through the next couple of hours drafting multiple cover letters, researching each company, and possibly low-key stalking the person you’re addressing the cover letter to… so you can find the title of their position. 

Luckily, it’s just the first week of the search, and you promise yourself that you will learn to look at jobs steadily throughout the next few weeks, so they’re not too overwhelming. But you’ll probably make the same mistake next week too.

At least the cover letters are getting easier to write. 


5. Interview Invite

An interview! Finally, you must have been doing something right. 

“Zoom Interview for Job 123456,” is the simple subject line that somehow immediately catches your attention. You’re excited, to say the least, and you go straight to book an interview time. 

But wait, what was that job again? What were they even looking for? Are you even qualified for it?

You doubt yourself and your qualifications but realize they chose to interview you out of all the applicants they had. So it must’ve been for a good reason, right? 

You haven’t had a mock interview or an actual interview since your IPP course or last job search term. So how does an interview work again? What are they going to ask?

What does STAR and/or PAWS mean again? You start to read this page until you can recite it from memory.

Do you know enough about this job to be interested in it and interview well enough yet little enough to have some questions to ask about the job at the end of the interview?


6. Waiting

A short-lived stage of the co-op search.

You finished the interview. It’s all good, you did the best you could, and there is nothing you can change about it now. Might as well just relax. 


7. Panic

Which sets in sooner than you would like after the waiting stage.

The employer said they would get back to you after a week or so. So logically, you’ve waited for a solid hour after the interview before you start panicking. Then, you begin retracing every moment of the application and interview process. 

You did well… or did you? You answered their questions, but did you do it with finesse? Maybe they aren’t looking for finesse; perhaps they’re trying to get a sense of who you are. But what if who you are isn’t good enough. Maybe you should’ve borrowed somebody else’s personality for the interview.

It was a zoom interview. Which brings you to your next question: was my audio/video lagging, or was it theirs? 


8. Rejection

A response, but not the one you’d like. Not unexpected, though; many people receive a few rejections before being offered a job.

“Thank you kindly for your interest and time in applying for….”

You already know what the rest of the email will say, but you continue to read it. It’s not ideal, but at least you received a response; you muster up the strength to respond.


You essentially repeat stages 5 to 8 until you get to stage 9 – a job offer. 


9. A Job Offer

The colorful word 'yay' on a light pink backgroundCountless hours, multiple applications, a few interviews, and one “congratulations”.

“Congratulations, you’ve received a job offer for posting 123456,” the email reads. You read the subject line a few times. Are you reading it right? An offer? Did they email this to the right person? 

You give yourself a moment to be excited before emailing them back to accept the offer. It feels as if the weight of the co-op search has lifted from your shoulders (but better).

It should be time to worry if you’re actually good or qualified enough for the job. But for now, you just smile and are excited that you won’t have to constantly check the Co-op and Career portal.


10. Bonus Step: The Waiting and Panic Stages… Again!

How naïve. You thought a job offer was the end, didn’t you.

You received an offer letter, but it’s conditional. Therefore, you need to satisfy a few conditions before the job is actually yours. For example, the conditions could be something like undergoing a Criminal Record Check or Credit Check.

These checks usually don’t take a long time, but if they do, you’ll eventually convince yourself that you are a convict with a low credit score. 

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