Checklist For A Successful Work Experience

Significant learning can occur through the process of working as a co-op or intern and when you begin your first professional job. You can optimize the value of your field placement by completing some of the recommended activities listed below and creatively adding others on your own. These activities have the potential for enhancing your professional, personal, and career development and are useful when considering ideas to add to you career portfolio.


To be viewed as a future professional, supervisors seek people with strong ethics and integrity. The following guidelines include information that is relevant to corporate standards and behavior norms that are expected within a professional working environment.


Professional Development


1.*Obtain and review company literature (annual report, product brochures, personnel manual).


2. *Through observation, discussions, and other means, learn how your job responsibilities contribute to your work group, department, division, and organization.


3. *Keep a log of examples of how your work experience relates to your past coursework and expands your knowledge and skills.


4. Interview professionals about projects and/or areas that interest you.


5. Develop a reputation as a problem-solver. If a problem lands on your desk, do not pass it on to someone else. However, never be afraid to ask questions if you do not understand something.


6. Plan your day in advance. Ten to fifteen minutes in the morning will equal an extra hour or more of productivity throughout the day.


7. Begin to use a pocket or electronic planner continuously. It will quickly become your daily guide to accomplishing your goals in life.


8. Ask to attend meetings and events. You will learn how things really get done.


9. Keep a list of areas in which further education/knowledge will be necessary for your career goals.


10. Think about ways in which your work environment meets your needs in terms of size of organization, dress, and informal/formal roles for getting things done.


11. Find out how your department interacts with other departments and with external vendors.


12. Discuss with colleagues and superiors how they obtained their positions and their future career plans and goals.


13. Reflect on how your field placement can influence your choice of major, elective, and plans for graduate study.


14. Keep a list of your personal successes including what worked and didn't work and why.


15. Make a list of the changes that you feel have occurred in your self-esteem, maturity, and communication skills as a result of your co-op/internship.


16. Develop a network of workplace colleagues with whom you maintain contact.


Tips marked * are required.




1. Draw a solid ethical line and never cross it, even when others are encouraging you to do so.


2. Integrity means doing what is right, even if it is unpopular, unfashionable, or unprofitable.


3. Develop a reputation for honesty and integrity.


4. Do not use profanity, even when others do so.


5. Never tell dirty, racist, or sexist jokes. Ignore those who attempt to share them with you.


6..Do not lie, cheat, or steal, even when temptation is great. Stand for integrity and honesty in all that you do, and you will be amazed how far it sets you above your peers.


7. Strive to maintain a high standard of competence in your work.


8. Strive to be honest, fair, and respectful of others in all aspects of your work environment.


9. Honor your promises.


10.If you are unsure, don't do it.


11.When you make mistakes, take responsibility for them immediately. Denial will only prolong and intensify the error. Acknowledge that you were wrong and move on. Do not make the same mistake again.


Office Politics


1. Show respect for your boss in everything that you do. Do not join in when others are boss bashing.


2. Never discuss your salary with your co-workers.


3.When you are personally complimented for something that was a team effort, always give proper credit to the team.


4.When others begin to criticize, fight the urge to join in the slaughter.


5. Limit yourself to one glass of beer or wine when dining out with co-workers or clients. Wait for someone else to order liquor first, don't be the only one.


6. Beware of office romances. Keep personal matters out of the work environment.


Office Etiquette


1. Dress conservatively, at or above the conservative median within the company.


2. From day one, learn how to answer the department phone and how to take a proper message.


3. Do not e-mail family and friends during work time.


4. Learn the company's policy regarding Internet use. Do not use the Internet for personal business.


5. Ask for things to do. Do not wait to be told what to do. Solving problems and taking initiative are the best ways to stand out from the crowd.


6. Do not gripe about the grunt work. There is always something to learn. Learn how the small tasks fit into the big picture.


7. Arrive at meetings on time.


8. Take advantage of the fact that you are a student. As a student, you are not threatening and can have more access and opportunities than a full-time employee can. Everyone wants to help a student learn.




Adapted from:


Top 10 Tips for Interns by Bradley Richardson as found on


New Job Proverbs as found on


Co-op Intern Students:


Be sure to check the Co-op section for placed students on our web page for updated information regarding your Co-op course at


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