So, you’ve hired a co-op student … Now what?

So, you’ve hired a co-op student … Now what?

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

Contributors:

Abby Tucker, Program Coordinator Co-op, Halifax Chamber of Commerce

Maximizing your experience with a star student on staff

For employers, hiring a co-op student can be incredibly exciting. Opening up your doors for a student to gain real life experience, while still in school, is something that can change a student’s perspective on education. Here are some tips about maximizing your next co-op experience.

Be prepared

Coming into a new workplace as a student can be very intimidating, but nothing is worse than coming into a new workplace and feeling like a nuisance. The best thing you can do to start your student off on the right foot is to prepare a plan for them. Lay out exactly what you want them to work on over the course of their semester. Having a plan and clearly defined expectations shows your student that you are eager to have them on the team and that you value them.

Answer their questions

As students, many of us have never worked in an office environment so we will probably feel a bit out of place at first. Giving your student an opportunity to ask questions on those first few days is going to help get the silly things out of the way.

Understand why they are there

Your new student chose to do a co-op because they want to learn above and beyond what a classroom lecture can teach them. Being able to see things from their point of view can give you a huge advantage. Understanding that your student may still be in the beginning stages of their post-secondary education is something else to keep in mind. They are likely going to want to get their hands dirty with everything they possibly can.

Make them feel like part of the team

Depending on the size of your organization it may take time for them to get the chance to work with everyone, so give your student the opportunity to meet the staff early in the term. This gives your student the chance to start building relationships with their new co-workers. Plus, it saves your staff from an awkward kitchen encounter.

Give them some space

Similar to when you move into a new home, you need some time to settle in. Your student will want time to organize their personal space and to absorb their new environment. Giving them some extra space during those first few days is going to allow your student to adjust at their own pace, setting them up for success in the workplace.

Talk to them

It takes time for any new employee to wrap their head around roles and responsibilities, office norms and organizational culture. Set aside time, even 15 minutes, once per week, to let them bring forward their successes and their concerns. This provides an opportunity for you to build a rapport, build on their strengths and discuss any potential issues early on, while encouraging them to succeed.

As students, we are just discovering who we are in the workplace, and where we fit in with most office cultures, so allowing time to adjust and absorb is crucial. Setting your student up for success within the first week of their new placement is going to ensure that you have a productive and exciting work term with the newest addition to your team

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

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