Choosing Your First Co-op and How To Get There

By Destini M. Agüero, Assistant Director, Center for Co-op & Professional Advancement

When it comes to finding the right first co-op, it is important to use all the resources at your disposal, and one place you should always start with is the Center for Co-op & Professional Advancement, commonly known as “CCOPA.” Read on to learn about the different ways we can help you find your first co-op

Jason Blanchette (’18) came to Northeastern University School of Law (NUSL) knowing he ultimately would like to influence public health policy through advocacy in nonprofits, academia, or government, but it was CCOPA who first suggested he consider a co-op in the legislature. This past summer Jason worked in the Massachusetts State Senate, where he found that there is something for everyone, from speaking with advocates and lobbyists to learning about the myriad of issues they support.  While CCOPA assisted him with locating a rewarding co-op, Jason also had this to say about the level of assistance a student can find in preparing their application materials: “every time I send an application to a potential co-op employer I have a crisp, professional application that includes well-crafted resumes and cover letters demonstrating attention to detail.  There are few pieces of advice that extend to all law students, and at NUSL I think that advice should include that students work closely with CCOPA.”

The law is an ever evolving field and we work to evolve right along with it. NUSL has 600+ collecting co-op employers who hire our students each quarter. Beyond the employers with whom we work regularly, we have connected students with hundreds of additional employers. Our employers are located all over the country, in other parts of the world, and span all practice settings and areas. Imagine the possibilities! This is exciting for students and for us.

Each year we host scores of events through which attorneys meet with students, in essence, bringing networking opportunities to campus. Through panels, small group meetings, and individual advising sessions, students narrow down choices, make professional connections, and hear firsthand about the daily lives of attorneys in all kinds of practices. Alvin Carter (’18) took full advantage of these built-in networking opportunities CCOPA organized and expanded his network by attending events in the greater legal community. Here are Alvin’s tips:

  • Go to events featuring attorneys who are doing work that interests you;
  • Prepare to have two meaningful interactions at each event;
  • Offer assistance to attorneys or organizations on research projects or other tasks on which they’re working.

Alvin has found that taking twenty minutes to help another professional can be extremely rewarding in the long run. Through networking Alvin secured his first co-op with State Street.  Moreover, as result of a conversation at an event about his interest in intellectual property law (IP), Alvin’s next co-op experience focused heavily on IP.

We constantly amass resources to assist students and make them readily available through Symplicity, the database through which we run the Co-op Program. One resource is the Quality Questionnaire. At the end of every co-op, students complete a Quality Questionnaire, rating their experience and describing in detail the substantive work and the type of supervision they were given.

Recognizing that not all students flourish under the same supervision style or in the same practice setting, the Quality Questionnaires is an extremely valuable tool for students because of the unique look into what their experience could resemble.   Jen Boyd (’18) knew that she wanted her first co-op to be in a large company doing corporate work. Jen utilized the Quality Questionnaires and found the perfect employer for her—Liberty Mutual.  By reading through the Quality Questionnaires, Jen had a sense of the culture she would find at Liberty Mutual, and she was not disappointed.  She found the supportive supervision she had read about; she learned how a corporation operates; and she confirmed her plan to pursue corporate transactional work.

These are just some examples of how CCOPA is here not only to assist you with finding the right co-op, but also to provide you with the tools and resources you’ll need to make the most of your law school experience. We look forward to working with you!

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