What My Co-op Student Experience Has Taught Me

By Jacob Turner

Content Bloom has been my favorite Co-op experience. As a StFX [St. Francis Xavier University] Co-op student, my job search is fairly standard. It typically consists of looking at the Co-op job board and grabbing any postings that apply to my field of study [Bachelor of Science with an Advanced Major in Computer Science], but I’ve picked up a few hacks along the way. Here is what my experiences have taught me so far.

Create A Checklist

For this term I decided to add two personal requirements: 1) the job couldn’t be boring and 2) location. I didn’t want a long commute, so the office couldn’t be too far away. Any time I found an opening that seemed to tick those boxes, I’d save the posting and research the company.

Research The Job You’re Applying To

While researching Content Bloom, I discovered that it was an awesome digital solutions company that used exciting and modern practices. Content Bloom’s online footprint was very enticing. Both their website and GlassDoor reviews talked about the great work-culture they kept. Being a stereotypical young programmer, I was on the lookout for the most open, creative, and fun workplace I could find. CB’s reviews made me feel confident in my decision to apply, which I did immediately. About two months later, I found myself standing in front of the actual glass doors to the office for my first day of work.

First Impressions Are Important

My initial impressions of the office were great. I started at Content Bloom only one week after their move to a new Bedford location. The entire facility was modern, beautiful, open, and naturally lit. I couldn’t believe my luck. They gave me a tour of the new facility which allowed me to meet everyone (including one of the office dogs, Gus). The entire experience was very welcoming and every person seemed eager to meet me.

Don’t Set Expectations

Prior to Content Bloom, I had done two Co-op terms at other workplaces. At both of these Co-ops, the onboarding process was relatively graceless. They had me spend my first chunk of time waiting on things like a workstation and account set ups. They also had me reading training PDFs and employee handbooks to pass the time. Due to these negative past experiences, I instinctively braced myself for lots of downtime in my first few weeks at Content Bloom. However, I was very pleasantly surprised.

Be Open to New Experiences

Content Bloom immediately showed me how important I was to them as an employee. I felt valued. They demonstrated this by being prepared to have me at their company and adapting to the needs of a situation. One of the first things I was told when walking through the door on my very first day, was that the laptop I was initially supposed to receive had met a tragic fate only mere hours before I was to start.

As soon as I heard this my first thought was, “Great, this is going to be another one of those Co-op things”. [My previous Co-op didn’t have me set up properly for nearly an entire month.] Then, before I could even comment, I was assured my replacement laptop would be at the office within ten minutes. You can imagine my relief. In the end, the laptop was actually there in less than three minutes. Shortly after, I was given my own desk with a full monitor, keyboard, mouse, and headset.

Manage Your Time Accordingly

Another peril of being a Co-op student is the possibility of drowning in a tsunami of new information. The fact that every new job comes with a massive influx of information cannot be avoided, but it is possible to organize the information into manageable pieces. Content Bloom has a really effective method for this. I was assigned a series of 45-minute “onboarding sessions”. There were never more than three given in a day. The sessions were typically spaced out, which meant I had time to process the information.

As a whole, the onboarding only went on for about a week and a half. They covered everything from company structure and technical skills to soft skills. By the end of it, I felt that I not only had a sound understanding of the company, but knew what was expected of me and of what to expect for the rest of my term.

Use The Right Tools

I was kept busy outside of the onboarding sessions with a series of set-up tasks and self-guided trainings. All of these were assigned to me via a really great HR tool [Bamboo HR Software].

This tool allowed me to track the progress I made and showed me that I was completing everything necessary for the job. It even featured my personal and financial information in a private section, allowing me to see that all my details were correct. The Bamboo software worked as a top-tier office cheat sheet for me, as it has a page with everyone’s names and faces on it. I never had to worry about not being able to learn everyone’s name.

Talk About Your Experience 

If I had written this post about any of my former Co-op experiences, it would have consisted of what they could and should be doing to improve their program. It’s been such a pleasure being able to write about the great experiences I’ve had at Content Bloom.

I’ve been with the company for over a month and I really feel like part of the team. I’ve been given meaningful work and have set term goals with my mentor to ensure I get the most out of my time here. Working in a place where a really healthy and comfortable work culture is prioritized has been the best part of my co-op academic experience to date.

To other Co-op students considering a term at Content Bloom, I cannot recommend it enough.