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Co-Op Lessons Learned


Today’s post is written by Kyle McLaughlin.  Kyle is a junior in chemical engineering and is sharing his “lessons learned” from his recent co-op.


My co-op experience at General Motors has truly been life changing. Working in the “real world” and developing your soft skills truly puts school in perspective. You learn that the content of your classes is not all that is important; your ability to handle multiple assignments at once, engage in critical thinking in a fast-paced work environment, and communicate highly technical topics in everyday language.


The most important lesson I’ve learned from my internship is “people are your most important asset.” You can work in the same company for 50+ years and you will continue to learn new things on a daily basis. You need to learn from those around you. There is no such thing as having “too many mentors.” However, don’t expect everyone to help out a new student just for the heck of it. Building a healthy working and personal relationship with your coworkers is essential.  You will spend more hours working with each other than you will spend with your friends and family.


Everything starts and ends with a positive attitude. If you have a positive attitude towards your assigned work, your coworkers and the company, you are setting yourself up for success. Check your ego at the door, and develop a passion for learning. You can contribute to the organization, but ultimately, it has even more to teach you. I recommend all students complete a minimum of two internship or co-op work terms, preferably with the same company, during their undergraduate years.


Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”
Helen Keller