So so soooo beyond happy to announce that I finally have some co-op news to share with y’all!! Last week I had 3 whole interviews for different co-op positions, and *spoiler alert* a couple days ago I accepted an offer!
It was also kind of crazy to see how fast the whole process turned around for me as well because I literally went from zero interviews to a job offer within less than two weeks’ time. I’ve never done this before, but I’m pretty positive that is not a normal turnaround for co-op. What most people say is that depending on the size of the company and the resources that they have can cause all steps of the process to take varied amounts of time. There are some companies that take several weeks to read through resumes where some take days. I think that after interviewing, the interviewer normally says how long they will take to make a decision. If they don’t, then it is perfectly normal to email and ask.
Now, I can tell y’all what the vibes and support have been throughout the process. So, this semester (Spring semester of my 2nd year) I am in the class “Intro to Co-op” which runs you through applying and being on the job for co-op. The different modules include resume building, applying, networking, interview tips and typical questions, sexual harassment, mindfulness, global co-ops, and finally on the job tips and goal setting. Throughout this class we also attended 3 different panels. The first one was attending presentations about what work people did on co-op, and then we asked questions about their experiences. Next was an employer panel where we heard what it is like from the employers’ perspective and were able to learn more about specific positions available. Most recently, we had a panel with 5th year students about the interview process.
After applying to 26 job postings and receiving one “we have not selected you for an interview” email, I was emailed by two companies (on the same day!) that they wanted to interview me. The validation I felt from those emails was off the charts. I was then again validated when one of the companies said two supervisors wanted to interview me which made me like that company sliiiightly more than the other one.
The first interview I had was with a company called Creative Materials Inc. that works with developing custom inks for different electrical and sensor applications. I think that the interview went relatively fine. It was slightly awkward on my end because I tried to generate small talk, but my interviewer was not on the same energy wavelengths as me. Also, most first interviews are around 30 to 45 minutes long, so as it was nearing that mark, I pointed out the time which I later realized probably isn’t the best move. At the time, I thought I was being considerate, but I now can see how it comes off as disinterested as if I had been keeping track of time. They ended up not offering me a job though which is fine because I don’t think I would have fit in with their company culture that well based on not vibing well with the interviewer who would have been my supervisor.
My second and third interviews were actually at the same company, Nuvera, with different supervisors. They work on hydrogen fuel cells which is what goes into engines. This work interested me a lot more because it is within the sustainable energy field which is what I want to do post-graduation. The first person I interviewed with at this company essentially quizzed me on my circuits and chemistry knowledge which I so was not prepared for and uhh I wouldn’t say I did that well on the circuits questions, but I was pretty solid on the chemistry questions.
The second interview I had was immediately following this. Thankfully, they did not ask me any technical questions other than to describe something I had made in SolidWorks. Both interviewers in the second call had graduated from Northeastern, so it was very comforting knowing that they were familiar with what it was like to be on co-op.
One of my friends had also interviewed with the same people as I did, so it was really interesting to compare what we chatted about between our interviews. In the first interview, the interviewer gave me a virtual presentation of what the lab looked like because I asked about it, while my friend had not seen what the workplace looked like. In the second interview, she discussed with the interviewers more about the dynamic from the changes in parent companies, and I discussed how the intra-company communication was. I think that these differences really came from the questions that we asked them, so it was reflective of what our curiosities about the job were.
Asking questions to the interviewer was something I didn’t realize was even a part of interviews until Intro to Co-op. I have since learned that they are important because a job is a two way street, and it is important that you have all the information you need about the company and position before saying you want to work there. One of my friends rejected 3 offers before accepting an offer because they didn’t enjoy the work that they would be doing.
I think that asking questions is a really important precaution in order to take care of yourself and be real with acknowledging no this isn’t what I want to do or I wouldn’t thrive in this environment. Alternatively, asking questions can make you more excited about the position and give useful information like the virtual lab tour I received. I then used this additional information in my thank you email to say that despite my lack of technical lab experience, I had worked on coordinating complicated systems in my experience as a stage manager. This thank you email, I’m convinced, is the reason I was hired because I really thought me failing the circuits portion of the interview took me out of the running. That is the supervisor I will be working with starting in July, and I could not be more excited.
It has been a process of preparation, waiting, anticipation, and finally success as I secured my first co-op. I am incredibly grateful to my co-op advisor as well as Intro to Co-op instructor as they were both always available and ready to answer absolutely any questions that I had and guided me through this process. It honestly still feels so surreal that in 3 months I will be working a full-time job?!?! It’s definitely not the conventional college experience, but I think that it will very much help me feel more secure about what post-graduation life will be like.