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Starting your first co-op? Here’s some advice from fellow students

Many Northeastern students have just begun their first co-op. To help them succeed, we asked a handful of current Northeastern students who are co-op veterans to share some workplace wisdom.

Rose Leopold, SSH’17
Worked on co-op at the U.S. Embassy in Ecuador (Read more about her co-op here.)
Rose Leopold
The biggest piece of advice I can give to any student about to go on co-op, whether it is their first or third co-op, is to take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. This is especially relevant if you are co-oping outside of Boston and learning a new city in addition to a new job. Say ‘yes’ to trips that will let you explore your new home. Try new things, even if those opportunities are ones you would usually stay away from back home. Step out of your comfort zone. You’ll be happy you did—and at the very least, you’ll end up with a good story.

Nathan VanBenschoten, E’17
Worked on co-op at Google
NathanVanBenschoten300Don’t be afraid to question the status quo. One of the most valuable assets you can bring to an employer is a critical eye and a fresh perspective. So when beginning a new co-op, listen closely, but don’t hesitate to question what you hear.

Camille Serelus, SSH’16
Worked on co-op at Scalabrini, a nonprofit in Cape Town, South Africa
CamilleSerelus300
Advice about work: Take your time in building relationships with your co-workers, especially your supervisors. You will be spending the majority of your time with them for the next six months, so those relationships can really make or break your time abroad.

Advice about your social life: Have fun. Explore the country and culture you’re in. Travel while you’re abroad, eat the food, and make friends with the locals. But please, please, please be wise and street smart.

Ana Tarbetsky, SSH’16
Worked on co-op at the University of New South Wales in Australia (Read more about her co-op here.)

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

To someone going on their first co-op, I highly advise being open to learning and trying new things. In every position there is room for growth and improvement. If your supervisor asks you to try something new, say ‘yes.’ If you have an interest in something you’ve never tried, ask to get involved. If you fail, try again.

John Sirisuth, BHS’16
Worked on co-op in Thailand at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok (Read more about his co-op here.)

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Imagine yourself in the space as a professional, but approach every day with the work ethic of an intern. Embed yourself in the network, place a high value on your co-workers, and make your co-op count.

Nick Dowmon, E’16
Worked on co-op in Brazil at CPFL Energia (Read more about his co-op here.)

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

One of the most important things to remember when going out on your first co-op is to be friendly with your co-workers. Try not to be too nervous or rigid with the people you are working with. Becoming friends with co-workers, first and foremost, will allow you to enjoy going to work every day, but it will also help you in the future when you are struggling and need help at work, or when you need an advocate while looking later on for co-ops or even full-time jobs.