I’d forgotten how stressful looking for a Co-op summer placement can be. It’s my second time looking for a placement so I thought it would be easier, but it’s turning out to be just as difficult as the first time. That being said, I’ve learned some things along the way.
Job applications take time and effort, so it’s easy to procrastinate at the beginning of the term. Finding a job for the summer can feel like a midterm that’s a couple of months away. You know you should be working on it, but there’s quite a bit of time right? If you’re like me, a month can feel like an eternity away when you’re just trying to survive the week.
If you start early enough, there’s usually not much competition. There will be quite a few job posting with relative low number of applicants. As the term goes on, the number of job postings will start to go down and the number of applicants per post will start to shoot up. 50, 60, sometimes even 100 applicants per post will start to become the norm. As the term goes on, school also ramps up with midterms and projects, making life a lot harder.
My advice is to not try to cram job applications. It’s not impossible to find a job later in the term; it’s just harder and more stressful, so start early.
That’s my first point.
I was in this situation last year. It was getting late in the term, and I still hadn’t found anything. So, I widened my search. I’m personally interested in clean energy and it just so happens that UBC has a Clean Energy Research Centre. I contacted the professor in the research area I was interested in, and managed to secure a 4-month position which was later extended to 8-months.
This brings me to my point second point: research opportunities on campus.
As I’m sure you know, a large part of what professors do is research. If you’re interested in the research area they’re in, talk to them. They are a really great source of knowledge, and if they don’t have a job for you, they might be able to push you in the right direction.
Not only will research give you valuable experience, but you can see if research is something you would like to purse in the future. I personally had a blast in my position. I got to work with hydrogen fuel cells, which was a technology I had always been interested in. I even managed to attend a fuel cell conference here in Vancouver which had presentations from industry leaders from all over the world. Because of that, I now have a comprehensive layout of the fuel cell industry and know what companies are based here in Vancouver. This will be extremely useful if I decide to pursue a career in the industry. All of this happened because I talked to a professor.
So be proactive; you would be surprised about what you can find at UBC.