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Your Co-op Catalyst; Spring 2014


Your Co-op Catalyst “Springing Into Action; Keeping You Connected” A Student Advisor Co-op Newsletter (by Franco Solimano)

Greetings! And Hello. Hi everyone!

Inside this issue:

Midterm Reviews


How to Succeed on your work term


Above and Beyond


Looking Ahead


Outside of Work


My name is Franco Solimano and I’m your student advisor for this co-op term. It is crazy to think that we are already in June and that the majority of you have already been working for a few weeks now! Time flies and I hope you’re having a great co-op experience so far. For those of you in your 1st work term or in your 2nd to last co-op term, I will be visiting you at your work for a site consultation at some point this Spring. For everyone else (non-1st or non-2nd last work term), just remember you can always request an in-person meeting from your Student Advisor if you really want one. Since I may not necessarily get to see or meet each of you face-to-face, I thought I would package a few work term tips via a newsletter so that everyone can have access to the same information. If you have any questions, concerns or comments regarding your specific work term or have advice you’d like to share with other students, please feel free to contact me any time. Looking forward to hearing from you.

TO DO List



Contact info: Franco Solimano CECA Student Advisor, Employer Relations Direct toll free: 855-533-4473 ext 39305 Cell: 647-802-0361



Your Co-op Catalyst; Spring 2014

Midterm Review

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Wait… Why should you request one?

You never want your final evaluation to be a surprise. If you know the common saying of why you shouldn’t assume, then hopefully you can understand the importance of a midterm review and asking for honest, direct feedback on your performance so far. Benefits of asking for a midterm review: 

It places accountability on the supervisor to tell you areas where you’re doing well and areas where you need further development

By knowing which areas you can improve on, you then have time to make positive changes before the end of your work term. And by making these positive changes early on with enough time, you can hopefully work towards a higher performance evaluation.

If you have not been happy so far with the term, a midterm discussion is the perfect opportunity to reset expectations on both sides and establish new goals.

It is not mandatory to complete a midterm evaluation (only the Final Performance Evaluation is mandatory). However, feel free to use the evaluation as a midterm template to help guide a discussion with your supervisor. You can find the Final Performance Evaluation template by clicking here. **Note for double work term students: you must submit two final evaluations—one for each term.**

How to Succeed on your work term Only you know if you’re giving each day a 10/10 in performance

As an alumni of the co-op program and as someone who has supervised and hired many students, I have seen a lot of wonderful students out in the work field. I wanted to share some of my personal advice to help you succeed. Franco’s Tips: 

Treat your co-op term as a four-month interview (scary to think about, right?!). Essentially though, that is exactly what it is since most of you are looking for a full-time job after graduation. Even if you don’t think you’ll want to return to this employer, you want to make sure you leave behind a positive legacy. You never know what a good referral or reference will do for your future, so always act as if you are still trying to get the job—even a simple mindset shift like this one may help keep you motivated to doing your best!

Stay positive—your attitude is your best (or worst) asset. There will always be some things about work that you really enjoy or really dislike. However, focusing on the negatives has a way of lowering your performance overall. Focus on what is in your control and also keep in mind that you have the power to make positive changes yourself.

and attitude. You have the power in you, so don’t sell yourself short!

For example, when I was on a work term at a water pathology lab facility, there were 4 co-op students managing our own individual research projects. The work was long, very independent, and sometimes even repetitive at our own stations. At first, we all began losing motivation to work, and sometimes even to talk to each other—It was easy to get demotivated or isolate yourself in your own research every day! To overcome this, the 4 of us decided to brainstorm ways to create a more engaging environment in our 4 person lab. Turns out, we all had a communal love for different kinds of music! We each pitched in for a used radio, and rotated playlist themes every two weeks so that we could have music to look forward to (with our supervisor’s permission of course). —eg: if it was someone’s birthday then each of us would make a playlist of our favorite kinds of music with songs or lyrics that reminded us of that person!, if it was Valentine’s Day it would all revolve around break up or love songs!, etc—We had fun with it, and that helped us learn more about each other to create a much more welcoming/comfortable/open environment at work!


Your Co-op Catalyst; Spring 2014

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How to Succeed on your work term (continued) 

Don’t take things personally—when you ask for your midterm review or receive ongoing feedback, remember this is all aimed at developing your marketability for the future. Sometimes we can feel defensive when hearing constructive criticism, but remember this is coming from people who care about your development. Continuous self-development is a lifelong journey, so whenever you receive constructive criticism, thank the person for taking the time to provide feedback and ask how you can work on developing this skill to add it to your portfolio.

Did you know that the Centre for Career Action (CCA) has a week-by-week guide to work term success? Click here to visit it! As well, here are some other helpful tips.

Lastly, meet Joe and Dan. Click here for a brief and sweet 2 minute animation by CCA about success on the job!

Above and Beyond There are additional ways you can get extra skills this term or in the future. Here are a couple of ideas: 

If your supervisor hasn’t already hired for next term, ask if they’ll be going through the job posting and interview process. If so, ask if you can help with the interview process. You can learn a lot from being on the other side.

Are there other ways you can help the employer? Do they have a social media presence—are they on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook? By helping out in additional areas, you not only adding extra skills to your “bank” (i.e. marketing skills), but it also shows the employer you care about their development as well.

Just remember: 

It never hurts to ask—worst case, your supervisor says no and you haven’t lost anything.

Also note, if you have not been giving each day a 10/10, these extra opportunities might not always be as available. The priority will always be your assigned tasks first, so make sure you’re starting off by knocking those out of the ballpark in advance.

Looking Ahead When you’re not looking for work is the best time to start networking (i.e. you’re not asking for anything since you already have a job this term). If you’re not sure what you want to do next term or in the future, why not try to do some informational interviews this term? For more information on how to conduct an information interview, see a video by the Centre for Career Action.


Your Co-op Catalyst; Spring 2014

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TO DO List Outside of Work— looking for things to do? Being on a co-op work term can be a great time to explore what daily working life is like in your respective field — if you have the time, energy, or interest, then start experimenting with work/ life balance you enjoy!

Fill out E-Checkin form - should have been emailed to your uWaterloo email address last week.

Brainstorm work term report ideas (depending on your program requirements or work term).

Keep on top of your PD Course requirements!

Toronto: (So many outdoor and food festivals!) Pickering: Whitchurch—Stouffville: Concord & Vaughan area: For those of you who moved to a new city and are finding it a bit boring/lonely, see if you can find events/stores/ clubs related to hobbies that you are already interested in. Most community or recreation centres and museums offer a variety of classes as well. Eg: PC cooking classes! Click here for more info. Personally, I’m a fan of sports events to bring communities together and give you something to cheer for. And this summer has tons of games! Either the World Cup in Brazil or the Common Wealth Games in Glasgow will be sure to provide good games. If you’re with a group, try different venues to find exciting game-watching locations. If you’re on your own, bring a book or your laptop to game watching venues and make yourself a regular!

FUN-ctional Professional Development Hopefully, you’re receiving some form of Professional Development in your workplace. If not, hopefully these resources can show you how easy (and fun!) it can be to seek your own development on your own outside of work! Click below for a few personal favorite links: 

TED Talks: Dan Pink’s 5 Favourite TED Talks on Work

99U: 7 Things Star Wars Taught Me About Productivity (they have tons of fun videos and articles)

NOTE: If you have found your own personal or fun PD suggestions, please feel free to forward or share!

Thanks for reading! There is a LOT of information out there, but hopefully this package makes it easier to read through. If you don’t like this format or have recommendations for next time, please don’t hesitate to email me at I am always open to feedback and input! :)

P.S. if you are on Twitter, let me know what you think of this newsletter at @solifranco

F14 co-op catalyst  
F14 co-op catalyst  

A Fall 2014 newsletter from your co-op Student Advisor.