Written by: Raina DeBrouwer, Co-op Coordinator, Co-operative Education
Before you know it, your work term will be drawing to a close. While this realization may have you scrambling to finish up projects or develop a transition plan for the next co-op student, it’s important to carefully consider how you leave your work term. This is your opportunity to beef up your portfolio and reflect on your progress. It’s also a chance to leave a lasting impression – ideally a positive one! To help you achieve this, we’ve developed a list of things to consider as you wrap up your work term.
Update Your Resume
It’s much easier to update your resume when all the projects and tasks you’ve been immersed in over the past few months are fresh in your mind. Take some time to think about the work you’ve done and update your resume now. If you’re struggling to remember what you’ve worked on, consider taking a look at your personal learning plan and your job description. Your supervisor might also assist you in coming up with new skills and experiences to list on your resume.
Save Work for Your Portfolio
Now is a good time to identify and save any work you think might benefit your portfolio in future. Many jobs ask for samples of work as part of application packages, so go through the work you’ve completed and save anything you are proud of. Some examples of documents to save might be press releases, communications plans, business plans, design work, photographs, project summaries or reports. Be sure to ask your supervisor before saving anything that maybe confidential.
As part of the Mount’s co-op and internship process, we ask the employers fill out an evaluation and share it with the student at the end of each work term. Meeting with your employer to discuss this feedback is an excellent opportunity to discuss your strengths and understand any areas for development in future work. Open yourself up to any constructive criticism your employer may offer, as it will make you a better professional going forward. Be sure to listen intently to positive feedback as well – understanding your strengths in the eyes of your employer might help you understand and promote your skillset going forward, especially during future interviews
Ask for a Reference
It is always a good idea to ask supervisors if you can list them as a reference prior to giving away their contact information. Catching a reference off guard can, at best, leave them unprepared to speak to your skillset and, at worst, cause them to feel put off about the lack of notice. The employer evaluation meeting at the end of the co-op term is a good opportunity to ask your supervisor if you can use them as a reference for future job opportunities. If your supervisor’s feedback is positive in tone and they can speak directly to your skillset, be sure to ask them for a reference. If another colleague would be more familiar with your work or would have a more favourable impression of you, it might be best to ask them for a reference instead. Once someone agrees to be a reference, be sure to take down their name, job title, organization, phone number and email address.
Thank your Employer
As obvious as this tip might sound, it’s important that you don’t overlook the simple act of thanking your employer. Be sure to express your sincere gratitude to your supervisor and colleagues for the time and effort they put into helping you grow as a professional. Consider writing personal thank you cards. It’s small gestures like these that go a long way in leaving a lasting impression.
Work Term Reflection Survey
Similarly to your employer, you will be asked to reflect on your co-op experience at the end of the work term. The work term reflection survey is your opportunity to answer questions about your employer confidentially. The co-op team reviews all survey responses and uses them as a tool to ensure employers are continuing to provide a good learning environment for students.
Update Your LinkedIn Profile
If you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to update your LinkedIn profile to include all the skills and experience you’ve gained over the past four months. Utilize your personal learning plan and the job description to outline the duties you were responsible for. Send your colleagues LinkedIn connection requests to keep those connections alive. You never know how they might serve you in the future!
Seek Endorsements on LinkedIn
LinkedIn endorsements are a great way to prove your skillset to your network. It’s easy enough to list skills that you have, but your credibility grows exponentially when someone you’ve worked with backs up your claims. Seek endorsements from your supervisors and colleagues. It’s not a bad idea to leave them one as well!
Congratulations on making it to this stage of your work term. By now, you’ve likely acquired a multitude of skills and experiences to carry over to your next employment opportunity. As exciting as it is to look to the future, it’s your present actions that will have the greatest impact. In these final weeks, have fun, work hard, and nurture those professional relationships – your future career will thank you for it.