Feb 24

What you really learn at co-op

Ashley Gaabo

Ashley Gaabo

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post by Kettering junior Ashley Gaabo, from Rochester Mi and majoring in Industrial Engineering with a Business minor and concentration in International Studies , who will occasionally post her thoughts about her Kettering student experiences on Life at Kettering. If you’d like to write a guest blog post, e-mail jmurphy(at)kettering(dot)edu. Ashley’s other posts: Post 1 | Post 2

The opportunity to have a co-op is one of the best things I have been given. I have learned so much during my co-op terms at Beaumont Health Systems. It is nice to get real world work experience in the Industrial Engineering field before I graduate and am going to spend over 40 years of my life working.

My co-op has taught me so much. Not only has it taught me simple work tasks such as how to use Microsoft Visio, how to plan meetings in Outlook, how to observe workflows, how to create testing scenarios and overall how to utilize EPIC, it has also taught me several other useful lessons.

1. If you don’t have enough work, go ask for it even if you have to every hour. Your manager is not going to know how quickly you can complete each task. You need to be in charge and seek your own work.

2. A smile goes a long way. Everyone at my workplace always tells me I just look so happy. No matter what, always smile at the people you work with. It shows them that you are friendly and approachable and 9 times out of 10 they will say something to you.

3. You are not being watched as much as you think you are. There were several times I thought I could feel fellow employees looking into my cube/at me when I first started working. Turns out that it is just natural for everyone to look into cubes as they walk down the aisle….I’m sure you either do it now too, or will notice you do once you start your co-op.

4. The Kettering program and how it works is hard for fellow employees to grasp….no matter how many times you talk about it. I am asked by at least 3 employees every term how Kettering works and when I am at school and when I come back. Every time you tell them about Kettering they are amazed and think it is such a great program.

5. Even at the age of 50 some people do not know how to dress professionally. When you get your co-op job dress yourself well. The first week be sure to dress up very nice and as you get comfortable and see what others are wearing then you can change into more business casual clothes to fit in. However, make sure you still look professional and not like you’re going to the club or to bed…some people never understand the difference.

6. It helps to have pictures or posters at your desk to make conversations with someone who stop by.

7. Basically any manager has candy in their cube — if you ever want some that is the place to go.

8. Read over your emails more than once before you send them. You never know what spelling errors you can make…and sometimes you are lucky and can retract the email before someone reads it.

You will not realize how many little things your co-op has taught you until you take a second to look back on your experience.