Tips for success

Your First Day

  • What to wear: Contact your employer before the commencement of your work term and ask for information about any dress code. Dress conservatively if you are unable to find out the dress code before starting your work term.
  • What to bring: During your work term, bring a notebook and planner to work to take notes and to schedule appointments and meetings.
  • Work hours: Hours of work are usually stated in your offer letter. If you are unsure of your required work hours, contact your Coordinator (or the person who originally made the job offer) prior to starting your work term.
  • First impressions: As first impressions are important, be conscious of the impression you are making on all staff, not just your supervisor.
  • Orientation: Many employers give their employees a general orientation session with human resource or personnel department staff within the first few days of employment. The orientation session will review such matters as operations, hours of work, flex time and overtime policies, benefits, and dress code. In addition, policies on harassment, confidentiality and ethics, pay procedures, sick and late time may be reviewed.
  • Introduction to your work: Many supervisors will orient you to the specific product, project or process you will work on. You will probably be given reading material and you will be shown the equipment and computer systems with which you will be working. Your supervisor will likely review your job description with you and outline your role and responsibilities during the Co-op work term.

Your First Week

The transition from student to employee is often more difficult than many students expect. The theories and ideal models learned in University may not apply exactly in the work place. In industry, implementation of theory is affected by economics, customer deadlines, and practical constraints. Keep in mind the following points:

  1. Pay close attention to details and procedures: Procedures may seem confusing or unnecessary, but they have been implemented for a reason. Master any details, procedures, and processes as soon as possible. Do not comment on processes until you have mastered the skills. As you work through your tasks, consider the factors that influenced the development of policies and procedures.
  2. Ask questions: Ask for help if you do not understand something. Ask questions as they arise; do not wait until the task or project is completed before you ask questions. The work schedule for the task or project may become delayed if you wait to ask for help. Seek clarification of your role; take a proactive approach in asking your employer for specifics.
  3. Be realistic: Sometimes the job may not be what you were expecting. You may have been thinking about the job for several months and built up your expectations to an unrealistic level.
  4. Prove yourself and be patient: Often Co-op students will be required to complete small projects to prove their ability before they are assigned more significant assignments. Be patient.
  5. Be courteous and respectful: It is important to treat all staff in the organization with courtesy and respect, regardless of their status. Concentrate on seeking and listening to advice rather than attempting to impress people.
  6. Research: Find out more about the organization. Read your employer e-mail bulletins and identify projects that involve key players of the organization.