Thursday, May 29, 2014

Co-op Student Newsletter - Spring 2014 Issue

Stay connected to RIT, while gaining experience
Spring 2014 Issue Topics:
Co-op Factoids | Greetings From...Co-op Student Postcard | Etiquette For On The Job Success | Make The Most Of Your Co-op: How To Be Social At Work | Are You Number One?| A Little Humor

Fall Co-op Factoids
Number of students on co-op: 1264
Number of students on co-op internationally: 26
Number of companies employing co-op students: 736
Top 5 companies hiring the most students this quarter: 
GE Aviation, Wegmans, BorgWarner Morse, Paychex, Welch Allyn, Bendix, Thomson Reuters, Harris Corp., Vicor, RIT

Co-op city trivia:  
Founded in 1757, Lynchburg Virginia is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the banks of the James River. Lynchburg is known as the City of Seven Hills and was the only major city in Virginia that did not fall to the Union Army before the end of the American Civil War.

Greetings From Walt Disney World – Co-op Student Postcard
It may not be obvious, but it makes a lot of sense that Walt Disney World hires engineers. We asked Matt Purcell to share his co-op experiences along with some tips and stories related to how to make the best of your co-op!

Greetings From Disney Postcard front

Disney Postcard -- Matt Purcell Co-op Experience

Send us your own co-op greetings --share your experience! Email Gretchen at if you are interested in being featured – include an engaging photo of you at work. Thanks!

Etiquette For On The Job Success

All that hard work and you’ve finally landed that great co-op job!  Now it’s time to focus on making your co-op turn into another success story for you by being aware of proper office etiquette. Follow some of the simple tips below to help you enhance your experience and be a good citizen at your company!

Dress to impress – Most companies will give you some sort of orientation and talk about the proper dress code, so if they tell you the dress code is business or business casual – that’s what you wear. If you’re not sure, just look around you – does what you have on fit in with the attire of your supervisor or senior members? Start out on the formal side until you are on the job for a week or two and can observe what’s accepted. Things to avoid – bare feet, flip flops, clothing that’s too revealing, jeans, work-out clothes, shorts and tank tops. Dress for the job you want, not the one you’ve got!
Punctuality – Find out your assigned work hours and then come in on time and don’t leave before the agreed upon time.  If you are sick or unavoidably late, be sure to call in to let someone know. Never mind what your boss or “everyone else is doing” – stick to your hours – it will always come up at review time!
Company culture – Getting the lay of the land is vital. Is the work environment casual or a little more formal? Do employees address managers by their first names or Mr. and Ms.? Know the organizational and reporting structure. What are the rules about taking breaks, using the internet, Facebook and other social media during work or free time? Is listening to music with your ear buds in allowed while working? Remember, this is a place of business, not the dorm room, so if you’re not sure what is acceptable, ask your supervisor!
Ditch the dorm life – Falling asleep at the desk is one of the most common problems reported by employers. Now that you’re in a professional setting, eating right and getting enough sleep is a must. A healthy lifestyle will keep you alert and make you more productive on the job. So if you’re used to socializing or playing video games until 3:00 am, now’s the time to adjust your schedule to avoid those heavy eyelids during the day.
What else can I do? – If you’re not busy enough or just want to get more experience, ask what you can do next – time is money so productivity is important.  Show them that you are a hard worker and take assignments seriously. Ask questions and absorb as much information and knowledge as you can to get the most out of your co-op. Try to get yourself included in meetings and projects – show initiative and go beyond the basic co-op tasks when you can. Enthusiasm goes a long way!
Be respectful – We all have our opinions and in increasingly diverse workplaces, we don’t always agree. Listen carefully, act maturely and honor others ideas in a non-judgmental way. It may appear to be a dumb way to do things to you, but you may not be aware of the big picture and others may have been there awhile and have a lot more experience. Offering your ideas is fine, just always be respectful of the fact that many people bring many different perspectives. 
It’s confidential! –Intellectual property, trade secrets, product designs, formulas and algorithms, ideas for future developments, company reports, etc. are all proprietary information. The same is true for all customer/vendor lists, employee directories and email/address lists, work notebooks. Ask yourself if the information would be valuable to a competitor or anyone on the outside? Treat everything that you see and hear as though it is confidential - when in doubt, don’t share!
Check your ego – We all have to do things that sometimes seem below our skill level. Avoid the “it’s not my job” attitude and accept tasks willingly. The quicker you get the little stuff over with, the more time you have to focus on the more meaningful work. Do the best job you can no matter what is asked!
It’s company property – Everything from scotch tape, the copy machine to laptops belongs to the company and is not there for your personal use. Stick to the rules for use of company cars and travel expenses and always ask permission before using company equipment.
Keep records and get feedback – document your work, keep good records and track your work and projects. This will come in very handy when it is time for your review, to prepare your departmental work report and to update your resume. Time goes by quickly and it is easy to forget details! Consult your supervisor regularly and get feedback about your work.  Are you meeting expectations? Clarify any questions you have about projects and procedures. Make him/her aware of any conflicts or problems.
Prepare to stay connected – network with co-workers for future co-op or full time work. Get to know customers and others in internal departments. Start building your network now! Line up your references at the end of your co-op and stay in touch after you leave.
The grandma check – Always conduct yourself in a professional manner as though someone is watching you in and around the office and also during “off hours” at informal parties and gatherings where you might feel it is ok to let your guard down (especially situations when alcohol may be available).  Avoid gossip and involvement in “office politics”. Make efficient use of your time and personal calls and emails should not be made on company time. Emails and conversations (even though in perhaps an informal or social situation) should always contain clean language and you should never say anything that can’t be shared with everyone. If you wouldn’t do it or say it around grandma, don’t do it at work either!

Make the Most of Your Co-op Tip: How To Be Social At Work

Work sometimes can be stressful, and so can managing your social life. You may feel like being at work is like being in a middle school cafeteria, especially right when you start. Who do you talk to? Who do you fit in with? Who will I sit with at lunch? There are some good ways to blend right into these questions and let them answer themselves:

1.       Work Events
One of the best ways to get assimilated into company culture is by going to work events. This can range from office parties to community events that the organization goes to or hosts. A lot of offices have bulletin boards, sign ups and email listings so make sure you find where these are and get on those lists. It doesn’t have to be something you’re really passionate about; it can be something basic like a community service event, or a sporting game.

Many companies hire co-ops in groups, especially in the summer. Typically these companies will organize events specifically for the co-ops such as picnics, baseball games or things that might be unique to that city. Make sure you go to these! It’s a perfect opportunity to meet people of your age group.
If your office doesn’t really have a lot of this, be courageous and organize and event yourself that revolves around something you’re interested in. Maybe try something as simple as going to see a movie, play or concert.

2.       Make your cubicle/office welcoming
A problem a lot of people have is that they become introverted at work. Sometimes this is a good thing when you’re really busy and need to pound out work, but during more relaxed times try something as simple as just having your door open. Even if that just means them walking by and saying “hello!” A lot of conversations have just in a doorway of an office.

Some of you might have cubicles or smaller work areas. Since this is always open, try decorating it to make your area inviting. You can read more about this in our other blog post, “Decorating Your Cube” Long story short, decorate your area with things that represent you (a movie/TV show poster, pictures, etc.). It gives other people something to talk about with you and shows your personality.

3.       Have your lunch with other people
Don’t be a hermit and eat your lunch hiding away in your office or go off site to eat. Bring your lunch and eat in an employee break room, or invite other people to go out for lunch or don’t be afraid to join in on a group of people going out to lunch. Just being around other people in the workplace allows for conversation and relationship building.

4.       Don’t be too social
So yeah, we just told you how to be modestly social at work, but there IS a way to go too far. Even though you are trying to be friends with these individuals, you are still on a professional level with them, especially at work. It’s great to go to work events, but keep some things in mind:
-Some of these work parties have alcohol, so control yourself. This isn’t a college frat party. If you are under 21, DON’T DRINK!
-Some people might not be comfortable with certain information, so don’t spill out personal details of your life on just anyone. This puts other employees and the employers in an awkward position and some people have gotten fired for this.
-Be careful with work relationships. You may not know the other person too well and the last thing you want is to be accused of sexual harassment or a complaint to your supervisor. It’s not a situation to be taken lightly. A good rule is to avoid office romances altogether.

Bottom line is, don’t be afraid. You got hired because you fit into the office atmosphere, and chances are the people in the office want to get to know you. The earlier you start this process, the easier it will be, so start making some work friends!

Are You Number One?

Are you the first co-op student your company has ever had? If you’ve had a good co-op experience, but are now leaving, this is your chance to help your company and other RIT students too!

Before you go, talk with your supervisor about the possibility of hiring another RIT student, to continue the work you started, or work on a new project. It’s easy to post a co-op position on our employer web site –, and if they have any questions, you can refer them to your program coordinator, or our main office – 585.475.2301. Your supervisor may even want you to be involved in recruiting your successor!

Thank you for helping us maintain a good relationship with your company, and develop co-op opportunities for other RIT students.

A Little Humor

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