On May 8th I graduated from Northeastern University. When I was deciding on colleges, I had my heart set on a different school. However, my parents “lightly” suggested that it would be much more beneficial to take advantage of Northeastern’s amazing coop program. As usual, they were right.
Choosing a school with a coop program made such a huge difference in so many ways, both during and after school. Northeastern’s coop program is one of the more well known in the country, but tons of schools now offer amazing coop programs. Thinking about your career path when you’re still in high school may seem daunting, but here are a few reasons to consider a school with a big focus on career prep.
1. Gaining Experience
This is the most obvious reason. It’s one thing to learn about your chosen field in the classroom, but it’s a whole new level of learning that occurs when you’re out in the world putting it into practice.
2. Building Your Resume
It’s truly an amazing thing to leave college with a resume that looks like you’ve been in the workforce for years. Not only do you get the experience to add to your resume, but the coop advisors will also spend lots of time helping you craft the best resume possible.
3. Changing Your Mind
Imagine graduating and starting to work in your field, only to realize it may not be the right career path for you. At this point it’s often hard to get into another field. One of the best things about doing coops and internships is getting to change your mind. Lots of people finish coop and change their major because they realize it’s not for them. Then you still get another coop or 2 to make sure your new major is right for you.
4. Branching Out
Even if you end up sticking with the same major, there’s still a lot that you can learn and change your mind about from doing coops. For example, I went into school knowing I wanted to study marketing, and that never changed. However, I had no idea what type of company or work environment I was looking for. I always thought I would want to be doing consumer marketing, but from my experience I learned that doing business-to-business marketing was something I really enjoyed. I also never pictured myself in tech, but I really enjoyed working for tech companies.
5. Making Connections
A vast majority of students at Northeastern get a full-time job offer before they even graduate. Coops are a great way to make connections. Your supervisors often turn into your mentors and they’re a great resource for finding your first post grad job, whether it’s at the same company or through their connections.
6. The Best of Both Worlds
I distinctly remember my college advisor telling me, “The coop program is really great, but going on coop means putting your college experience on hold for 6 months." This was part of my hesitation about going to Northeastern, but that didn’t end up being the case at all. I would come home from work at 5, and I was still in college. I lived with my college friends, I continued with my on-campus activities; the only difference was not having homework (sounds terrible, right?). The only reason your experience would change is if you choose to do coop in a different city, in which case there will probably be other coops you’re working with that you’ll become friends with. Coops are great because you get to pretend you’re in the real world, while still having a college experience.
7. Dipping Your Toes into the Real World
Working full-time for 6 months makes going into the real world a whole lot less intimidating and shocking. While other people graduate and freak out about starting their first real world job, you’re going to have done it at least 2 or 3 times already.