By Sabrina Safran
This week was like any other that I’ve spent in the city – tiring, overwhelming, yet super exciting and educational. One thing that has constantly been on my mind is how fortunate I am to have found such a great opportunity to co-op at a company that I absolutely love to work for. Given that I’m a senior in college, I’ve been doing a lot of reflective thinking about what my future holds after graduation. This can be frightening to anyone who has reached the final steps in his or her college career. However, I know first-hand that this fear can be put at ease when going the extra mile and getting a co-op.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I’ve seen in my last three years of college go in and out of Rider without getting any experience in the real world. As a result, they’ve struggled to get the jobs that they wanted and are ultimately getting slapped in the face with the fact that maybe they should have gone the extra mile to fit a co-op into their schedule. Here are six main reasons why having real world experience has made a difference in my life and how it could benefit others looking to chase after their dreams.
Why Co-ops Are Awesome:
Yes, unlike an ordinary internship – they’re paid. Your travel expenses will be covered as well and depending on where you work, you’ll have some extra pocket change as well.
2. Not only do you get paid, but you get college credit as well.
The number of credits you can receive for doing a co-op depends on which school you’re a part of at Rider. However for a communication major, you’re eligible to receive as many as nine to 12 credits for participating in one. For instance, my co-op at Logo is three days a week and given that I work from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day that I go, I essentially work a 30-hour week. Though it may not be a full-time job, given that I’m still a full-time college student, I’m still working regular hours when I am there so I’m ultimately getting a taste of what it would be like for me to work on a full-time basis.
3. Applying for co-ops allows you to practice writing a strong résumé and cover letter as well as insight as to what’s expected from a job interview.
Going into college, I had absolutely no idea what employers expected of me on paper until I actually sat down and forced myself to apply for a co-op. By doing this, not only will you get experience formatting a résumé and composing a cover letter but this also gives you the opportunity to sit down with somebody more experienced, review your work and get helpful feedback in creating a strong portrayal of yourself to employers, especially during a job interview. I know it was very helpful for me to get feedback from upperclassmen that were already having these real-world experiences when I was just starting out.
4. Having a co-op opens the door for great networking opportunities.
As almost every professor that I’ve had at Rider has said to me, “Who you know today could lead to a job tomorrow.” Even if you’re just starting out in the field, first impressions are everything. The harder you work at your job, the greater the chance you have to get on your boss’s good side. This could lead to so many other opportunities within the company, whether it is getting free merchandise, getting to meet other professionals or even getting a job after graduation. I know a way that I keep in touch with past employers is through email and social media. You’d be surprised at how these kinds of media could help strengthen the connection you have with professionals in your field.
5. A co-op gives you a chance to figure out what you like and what may not be your cup of tea.
It may seem like a lot to take on a job while being a full-time student. However, doing co-ops while you’re in college gives you a chance to try out different companies or different departments within those companies to see what you like and/or what you think you can be good at. This way, even if you do stumble upon a company that may not have been what you expected it to be, you could figure it out while you have time to experiment rather than when you need to take whatever job you can get to pay off student loans.
6. You have nothing to lose and a potential job to gain.
A lot of times when companies are looking to hire for full-time positions, most of the time they’ll pass that news along to students that have worked for them before to see if they would be interested. By doing a co-op, you have a “one-up” on outside competition and an overall greater chance of getting employed. In my case, though I’ve worked for two different networks so far, Viacom owns both of them. So, I’m hoping that by getting my foot in the door, it can lead to a full-time job in the future.
Ultimately, I hope that reading this will inspire you to apply. No matter what major you are, co-ops can only help make you more versatile and well rounded as a person and to potential employers. Though I’ve only started my journey at Logo, I’m enjoying my time there so much not only because of the kind of work I’m doing for them, but because I know that this experience is one step closer to a job in the real world.