How to Land Your Next Co-Op

September 10, 2014

Blog | Culture | How to Land Your Next Co-Op
How to Land Your Next Co-Op
It’s autumn again, that means the leaves will soon fall, the temperature will steadily grow cooler, and school is back in session. This may seem like the wrong time for me to give students guidance on finding a candidates,  but it’s actually, the perfect time to prepare for your next co-op position.

As GeekHive’s primary liaison for college recruiting, I review heaps of resumes and interview scores of candidates. After years of weeding through these hopeful co-ops, I can offer some tips and insight into the whole process so you can land your dream co-op position.

Read on job seeker!

It’s All About Potential

At this stage in your career, recruiters don’t expect you to have work experience that directly matches the position you’re applying for. After all, school only prepares you for the general application of your new skills, work experience does the rest. This means that recruiters are often evaluating a candidate for the potential to perform well on a job – not prior experience or current competence.

How does one evaluate potential? Aye, there’s the rub. Potential can be evaluated in a variety of ways.

One way to evaluate potential is to consider similar skills.

Perhaps you don’t know one of the programming languages we use. So what! Instead, be ready to talk about the programming language you do know- in detail. Showing your other competencies will leave the recruiter with no doubt that you’ll be able to transfer your current knowledge into their open position.

Another way to evaluate potential is to look at past accomplishments.

Have you worked on any interesting projects? Do you work on projects outside of mandatory class work? Be sure to highlight those. Recruiters look for people who are hungry for knowledge and eager to add to their skills. If you show your recruiter these qualities you’ll be well on your way to landing your next co-op position.

The Resume

There are probably as many articles about preparing a resume as there are resumes in the world. I don’t expect to offer anything new or revolutionary here. However, I’ll share what I consider to be the top things I look for when reviewing a potential a co-op’s resume.

  1. Highlight the awesome. Got an interesting pet project? Include it!
  2. Keep it short and sweet. Don’t list every single course you’ve taken. Avoid listing irrelevant positions from high school.
  3. Every link or online reference is going to be checked. If you don’t want it representing you, don’t include it! Got a GitHub account? Cool. Few or no commits on the account? Leave it off. It’s not helping you.

The Career Fair

A large percentage of GeekHive co-ops made their first contact with me at their school’s career fair. Plan to attend. This is another area where there’s tons of advice out there. Here are some of my favorites tips potential co-ops should consider:

  1. Research your target company. Recruiters are instantly turned off when it’s clear you know nothing about the company. Pro tip: The answer is on the internet!
  2. Come prepared with a resume. (See above)
  3. Have your elevator pitch rock solid. Here’s your chance to make a good impression. It will set the tone for the rest of the conversation.

Now, the most important part- everything you do should help the recruiter bridge the gap between your past experiences and what you’ll be doing in the new role.

Armed with some knowledge of the company, anticipate what a recruiter’s concerns may be and speak directly to them.
For example, GeekHive does a lot of work with Sitecore – a content management system. It’s unlikely that colleges are teaching Sitecore development; however, many schools teach alternative content management systems (Drupal, Django, etc). Your job is to show the recruiter how your past experience with Drupal has prepared you to make the jump to Sitecore.

Armed with these tips, you’ll be much more prepared for landing that next co-op… maybe even with GeekHive. You can read about all of our open positions – including full time opportunities – on our jobs page.

David Campbell

Director of Project Management
Tags
  • Culture
  • Recruiting

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