Co-op is one of the reasons a lot of students come to Drexel, so it only makes sense that we students put a lot of effort into trying to find the right job.
We want to do something that’s relevant to our interests and career goals, and, if possible, we want something that’s going to pay well.
But there are other really important factors that will affect our job experiences too, and one of them is the people we work with.
Most jobs involve a small group of people that you’ll be expected to interact with on a daily basis, and how well you guys get on could easily be the difference between loving and hating your co-op.
Any good interviewer will show you around the building and introduce you to some of your potential coworkers, and you should definitely take the time to ask them what they think of the job. If you get a good feeling from a potential boss or colleague, even if you can’t explain why, you should definitely trust it.
For awhile, I was struggling to choose between two co-ops, and eventually, the deciding factor was that I got on well with one of the supervisors during the interview.
I definitely made the right decision — having a good relationship with the people around you means you’ll feel more confident in the workplace, and be better at asking for help, making suggestions and communicating clearly.
Another important thing is the location — and I’m not talking about how long the commute is. Your workplace could be five minutes’ walk from your apartment in your favorite city, but that still isn’t going to mean anything if your actual office is windowless and moldy.
Think about it. If you work indoors in a single building, which most people do, you’ll be in that office for at least eight hours a day, five days a week, without any sort of scenery change.
This means you definitely want your workspace to be nice — your own cubicle, so that you have personal space and a place to keep your things, a computer, natural light and a good view, the chance to customize your space with small decorations. If you’re allowed to put a bit of personality into your job, you’ll feel more at home and less like a temporary fixture. Plus, arriving at work early in the morning won’t feel quite as bad.
There are many more factors, and a lot of them depend on what small, everyday things you take for granted in your life at college. For example, I love that my workplace doesn’t have a dress code, and that I’m allowed to keep my own style like I do in classes rather than just wearing suits.
Some people, though, might want to focus on there being a good lunch place nearby, or on flexible work hours and arrival times. The important thing is just to consider some of the less obvious factors when searching for co-ops.
I know that choosing a co-op is already a struggle for a lot of Drexel students, since there’s a lot of pressure to make the right choice, and adding more criteria to the list is probably the last thing you want to do.
And, of course, nobody is ever going to have the chance to design their own perfect job (at least not for co-op) so there will always be compromises. I just think that a lot of people get caught up in the bigger picture, focusing on the job responsibilities, future opportunities, and salary, and forget to think about the day to day details.
Planning for the future is important, but the present is important too. And when you’re spending more than half of your waking hours at your co-op, even on your worst days when you’re sick or sad, it’s the little things about your job that make a difference.