UW Turned me into a Nomad

Recently I contributed an article to The Green Student on effective job searching strategies.

After spending 4 years in the co-op program at Waterloo, I can say with confidence I have truly grown up, A LOT, from this experience. I know exactly what line of work I want to be in, job applications and interviews are a breeze (mostly), finding last-minute housing arrangements and moving is the least of my worries now, and I’m not afraid to do a little travelling. I’ve met a lot of interesting people too, some of which will no doubt turn into long-term friendships.

So do take a look, these strategies have really helped me land all the cool placements I’ve had over the years!

Job Hunting: Tips from a Co-op Student

So your resume and experience is up to date, you lurk the job boards regularly, and you’re still having a tough time landing job interviews. There is no need to get discouraged – this is a common occurrence in the summer when every university student or graduate in Canada is competing for the same internships or entry-level jobs in their field.

Here are some more tips and strategies to help you with your search – they worked for me, and perhaps they will for you too!

1. If you don’t have an online presence already, it’s time to get social.

Many employers use social media as a channel to announce job openings and browse for potential candidates. Create a LinkedIn profile to increase exposure to your resume, job experience and career goals. It’s a great way to stay connected to previous employers and colleagues too. Browse the job and internship boards for employment opportunities. You’d be surprised at how many job postings are announced through Twitter, too!

2. Look through your current network.

Have a previous summer job or co-op term in the environmental field? Keep in touch with your previous employers. They may know someone in their own network looking for new hires. Many positions are advertised by word of mouth before they even hit the job boards.

3. Never underestimate the power of a well-written cover letter.

A great cover letter gives you an advantage over candidates who send in a generic application or even just a resume. Tailoring your cover letter to each employer demonstrates that you took the time to explain why you want the job and how you’ll be great at it. If you lack skills in the writing department, have a friend, classmate or advisor from your school’s career services office proofread it for you.

4. Don’t have much experience? That’s okay!

In your cover letter and resume, describe yourself as a young professional rather than merely a student. It gives the impression that you are ready to jump into the workforce with drive and ambition. If you lack experience, focus on emphasizing the skills you seek to build upon and talk about the transferable skills you have acquired through school, extra-curricular activities and volunteering that would contribute well to the position.

5. Relocation could be the best decision you make.

Like Emma suggested, be prepared to consider all options – including relocating for a job. Students and recent graduates are very lucky to have the opportunity to work and travel during this period of their lives. There are currently many temporary contract positions being offered, and some have the potential to be extended if there’s a mutual agreement to stay until the project’s completion. If you’ve never lived anywhere but home, this is a great way to try living in a new city, meet new people and get paid to travel!

Good luck!


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