The Underrated Benefits of Co-op Education

You’ve probably heard about why you should get into an MBA program with the opportunity to participate in co-op. The most common reasons for wanting to be in a co-op program are getting paid while you’re in school and putting your learning into practice. But there are advantages of co-op that do not get enough recognition. Especially if you’ve never had an office job with lots of responsibility, co-op is essential to getting a job in the business world. Some of the main takeaways are harder to quantify but just as important for your career.

One underrated reason to seek out co-op opportunities in your education is that co-op is a safe environment to test out your dream job. Your co-workers will know you’re there to learn and will try to help you achieve your learning goals as much as they can. They will give you inside tips on how to make it in the industry and both the pros and cons of the work you’re interested in. You might make a mistake, but they know that it’s a learning opportunity for you. You might even be lucky enough to gain a mentor out of this experience.

Learning how to work for a new boss is a huge life skill that you learn during your co-op term. Every boss you encounter will be different so navigating their management style and learning how to best interact with them will make you a better employee. They may inspire you to try a different way of tackling problems or show you what it takes to do your dream job.

Being exposed to different learning styles will also help you learn more about yourself. Finding out your work personality, organizational preferences and productivity times will help you determine what kind of work you want to do in the future.

In addition, co-op jobs can help students figure out what kind of organization they would like to work in. Not-for-profit vs. for-profit, start-up vs. corporation, there are many different types of companies you could work for. Learning about what kind of environment you’re comfortable working in is a good thing to learn during co-op.

Even if you discover that you hate what you’re doing, there’s always a lesson that you can apply to your future. You may have hated how many rules you had to follow at your last co-op position, so during your next round of interviews, you will ask interviewers about creative license. These experiences can define your career pathway a bit more, inspire you and help you learn about yourself and your capabilities. You will also create a professional network that could help you get the job of your dreams. You might have hated the work, but the people you met could help you get the job you actually want later.

At the Lazaridis MBA, there is a full-time MBA program with co-op so you can work on gaining these insights. The program is 20 months in length, with 2 four-month co-op work terms. You will get assistance from Laurier’s Career Centre, who will prepare you to ace your interviews for that dream co-op job. Find out more about the program here.