Co-op 101

The prospect of co-op can be a little daunting to students. I know it was something I was nervous about, but luckily the semester before you go on your first co-op, Northeastern requires you to take an Introduction to Co-op class. The Introduction to Co-op classes at Northeastern are major-specific, so advisors are best able to tailor their advice. Because of this, all classes are a little bit different and I can only speak to the Health Science Co-op class that I took. Some programs have more structured timelines for application submissions and interviews. I will describe an overview of what the process was like for me, but bear in mind other students may have very different experiences. 

The semester before you go on co-op, NUCareers will probably become a staple tab, always opened on your computer. NUCareers is a database created by Northeastern and lists all available co-op positions. Before you get access to NUCareers, your Co-op Advisor will most likely meet with you one on one to discuss and approve your resume. I personally found this meeting extremely helpful, as she was able to give me insight into what employers are looking for and how to best position myself. Once my resume was approved, I was able to start applying, which was both daunting and very exciting. 

The application process differs depending on the job and company. The type of jobs you are applying for might also have different protocols. Some jobs require just a resume, while others might also need a cover letter. Some jobs conduct in person interviews, while others do video or phone interviews. Regardless, your co-op advisor is an expert on all these nuances and is there to answer whatever questions you might have during the process. 

In my experience, most of my interviews had pretty similar formatting. All of them consisted of a few members of the team interviewing me together. I felt prepared during my interviews as I came with multiple copies of my resume and had prepared questions I wanted to ask the employers. Although I was extremely nervous at the beginning of each of my interviews, because of co-op class I felt much more prepared and had an idea of what to expect.

While I was applying to and interviewing for co-ops on my own time, during co-op class we did activities to prepare us and listened to different speakers that would benefit us during our co-op search. For example, one day we did mock interviews to work on our interview and conversation skills. We also reflected on our strengths and weaknesses, to be able to best discuss those with employers. In terms of speakers, my advisor brought in different employers and upperclassmen, who had previously gone on co-ops, to share their experiences with us. It was interesting to hear about the hiring process from employers and get the chance to ask them questions. It was also beneficial to hear from upperclassmen and hear first hand accounts of what co-op is like. 

Although the co-op search can appear overwhelming, Northeastern simplifies the job search process through advisors, your co-op class, and NUCareers to ensure that their students are able to gain experiential learning outside of the classroom.

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