When I first heard about co-operative education programs offered at universities, I immediately figured that the work-study cycle would be an excellent way to gain exposure to the professional world.

All throughout my first year I was looking forward to working at a job related to what I was studying. As my first work term approached, I quickly realized how difficult it would be, especially since my faculty is the smallest on campus and I am competing with students in their upper years.

When I started searching for my first co-op position, there were lots of job postings available but out of the many positions I applied to, I only managed to obtain one interview out of that first cycle.

My search did not get any easier in the second job posting round, as the job postings became scarce and my chances at securing employment slim.


After countless cover letters and resumé modifications I received another two interviews, both which did not lead to a work placement. My struggles continued well into exam period last December and eventually the term ended.

As I was packing my belongings for the winter holidays I realized I had nowhere to work for my first co-op term.

Near the end of January I was able to secure employment through the university job search portal for a position I applied for several weeks back.

My first co-op job search in university taught me that previous experience (especially relevant experience) really counts and sometimes volunteer work doesn’t cut it.

Employers should realize that students who are trying to secure their first work term placements are part of the pool that they will be selecting candidates from for the next couple of years as well. Don’t rule students out when you see a lack of work experience on their resumés.

Students may not always have relevant work experience, but they may have other relevant volunteer experience instead.

Give the fresh undergrads an opportunity to develop and enhance their skills.

Key take-aways from Shabdit’s experience:

  • Gain relevant experience in your field to be taken seriously by employers

  • Clearly highlight how your extra-curricular activities gave you transferable skills applicable to your job

  • Stay motivated — persistence and hard work pays off!

Where Shabdit is now

I’m currently working at General Electric, and it has been a great experience thus far. I admit that my first experience with the co-operative education program was not a pleasant one, but in the end it resulted in a terrific work placement. I’m hoping that my future job searches will continue to be successful, as well as easier.

TalentEgg.ca, Canada’s online career resource for students and recent grads, wants to hear your Student Voice. Share it at TalentEgg.ca.

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