Are you currently in the co-operative education program or thinking of joining TRSM’s successful co-op community? Want to know how to land the perfect co-op placement related to your field of study, industry and career aspirations? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
My name is Sonya Kawall (@skawall_) and I’m a full-time Accounting co-op student at TRSM. When searching for a co-op placement, I found the potential opportunities almost limitless – that is, as long as you put the right amount of effort into your search. As a busy student balancing work, academics and social life, it’s essential that you treat the co-op job search as a course in itself, committing at least 5–7 hours each week to tailoring cover letters and resumes. If you manage your time carefully, you can find the job search process both stress-free and rewarding.
Within a month of searching, I secured my first co-op job placement with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a GST/HST Examiner contributing to the Tax Audit division. This co-op placement will be the perfect place to gain relevant work experience specific to my Accounting specialization and my interest in the Financial Reporting field and a CPA designation. The role will provide the skills necessary to pursue middle-to-upper-level positions in the Auditing field, both for future co-op placements and my career. In other words: it’s the perfect co-op job placement for my career goals!
Here are my top five tips on how to secure the perfect co-op placement:
1. Attend Relevant Networking Events
You hear it all the time: network, network, and network some more.
Get a head start on your co-op program by making professional connections before you join. I attended my first networking event in the summer hosted by our very own Ryerson University’s Accounting Society (RUAS), which featured recruiters from top-tier accounting firms like PWC and KPMG. These representatives are there to get to know you and you are there to sell yourself and learn from their experiences. Although I didn’t apply to any of the firms I networked with, the insights gained from listening to each professional’s unique experiences helped with landing my position at CRA. Networking events are opportunities to practice speaking to professionals in your desired industry, to understand what their ideal candidate looks like, and to learn more about upcoming job openings. Networking never ends as a professional, so start now!
2. Stay Connected on Social Media
Today, social media is an essential tool for potential employers to get to know more about you before meeting you in-person. Social media is essentially online networking, so it‘s important to remain professional, yet exciting and unique.
Run a Google search of your name and clean up anything that you would not want to have to explain to an employer during an interview (e.g., photos on Facebook or Vines). LinkedIn is one of the most valuable social media tools and helped showcase my accomplishments at Ryerson, past work experiences, relevant courses, volunteer commitments, and top skills that can be endorsed by peers and past employers – use it as an online portfolio. I also used LinkedIn to connect with industry professionals, campus recruiters, my own co-op coordinators, and used it to search for specific co-op job opportunities that were external to PlacePro. Creating a professional Twitter account is also a good idea, and is most effective when you follow desired employers, businesses, finance or news accounts, and occasionally reply to their tweets – just to catch their attention. Tags and hashtags are highly recommended in the Twitterverse.
Don’t hesitate to follow your favourite sports team or tweet about a television show, but keep it professional.
3. Get Involved! Build Your Resume with Extracurriculars and Work Experience
Being an active student leader on campus helps more than you may think. Do not limit your options because there is more than one way to get involved. For the past four semesters, I have worked with TRSM Student Services as a work-study student, where I have been a Student Support Specialist and now, a QMS102/202/230 Facilitator and Academic Tutor.
I also found opportunities through my Ryerson email, such as the Student Buddy Program with Women in Capital Markets and TRSM’s Top 200 Leadership program. All of these opportunities provided a way for me to differentiate myself and broaden my potential in the workforce. Even if you are not a part of a student group, case competitions and student-run events are effective ways of getting involved and building your network. Employers strongly value the initiative students take outside of the classroom, but they do place an even higher value on students who put absolute effort into each new commitment. There is a distinction between adding countless irrelevant events to your resume, and adding meaningful and impactful contributions. Remember – quality over quantity!
4. Apply to the Right Jobs, Not Every Job!
It may be advised to apply to as many jobs as possible, however, I recommend that you apply to as many jobs that fit to your current qualifications and your future aspirations. During my first search, I submitted around 20 applications to co-op opportunities that were a close fit to my career aspirations in Audit and the skills developed from my past experiences. Search for co-op opportunities on job websites external to PlacePro, such as Indeed, Workopolis, LinkedIn, and opportunities posted by the Business Career Hub. If there is a company you are really interested in, go on their website’s career opportunities page and sign up to receive job alerts. Consider various options as a co-op student, you deserve it!
5. Take Advantage of Services Offered by the Business Career Hub and Ryerson’s Co-op Office
The Business Career Hub and Ryerson Co-op Office are outstanding support systems for both TRSM and Co-op students. Specifically, the Resume Building sessions and 1-on-1 sessions with my career consultant and co-op coordinators Laura Henshaw (of the Business Career Hub) and Taryn De Ruyter (Co-op Coordinator at Ryerson Co-op Office) helped me prepare the perfect resume before January’s job search process. As a result, my only task in January was to find relevant positions and tailor my cover letter and resume to each specific role.
The Career Preparation Workbook is one of the hidden treasures found at the Business Career Hub, and acted as a terrific guideline during the job search process as an Accounting co-op student. Also, the Business Career Hub provides an additional useful resource called Interview Stream, which is an online interview simulation tool that allows students to record mock interviews and receive feedback on their responses. This assisted me in preparing well-thought answers to situational interview questions, and led to my successful interview with CRA. Be sure to stop by the Business Career Hub at TRS 2-148 — they are there to help!
Do you have any more tips? Share them with us in the comments or on social media!
Follow Sonya Kawall on Twitter: @skawall