The Successor Search: Round 1 (or maybe Rant 1)

Fellow students, as we all know this is the Deadlines Wave of the winter semester, where there’s a seemingly endless list of group projects, papers to write, that third midterm to study for and the like. And while I strategize how I should eat the giant cupcake I have for a snack without stuffing my nose with icing, I knew that everything else has got to be approached the same way- with a strategy.

On Monday afternoon, after a group meeting for a school project, I came to my weekly meeting here at work slightly nervous because of some difficulties with the retreat planning. After the discussing ideas for mitigation we get a call and have another speaker confirmed! Crisis averted! Talk about timing! If only Mondays always work that way.

On Tuesday, I wasn’t actually planning to come to the office since I needed to do some major editing for a group project written report, which still needed a lot of work. But then I got an email that takes me back to the office to make some phone calls. And that is when it got dropped in my desk- the selection and short-listing task list for my successor. I read through the agenda, the rules and all is going well, but when I started reading the cover letters and resumes, my mind is blown!

The hybrid perspective I talked about in the last blog totally kicked in. While I stayed focused on my goal, which is to evaluate the applications based on the qualifications that we are looking for, I can’t help but comment to myself as a current co-op student looking for a placement. I’ve never seen such a variety of resume and cover letter outlines before! Even the examples shown in the seminars from the Co-op office are nothing in comparison. Gee, these students are involved in a LOT of things, which is pretty amazing! While half the time I am fascinated, sometimes I feel like these students have done so much more than I did! It looks like there is really a great competition for job searching out there.

In my perspective as a member of the selection committee, at times I did find it difficult; this is quite a few cover letters and resumes to read at one time! I totally get it now, the things that the co-op coordinators have been repeatedly calling out on our resumes and cover letters because yes, it could also be tough on the other side. The way it looks at the first glance really impacts reading the rest of the application. Consistency, format and spelling are very important too! How am I suppose to know for sure that you can write very well the reports and documents I make here when you cannot even show that in these 3 pages? This is the first and maybe only part of you that I can see. It’s just as valuable a wearing a non-wrinkled shirt in an interview if we did short-list you.

The most important thing is I was looking for is relevance and excitement. I have a very solid pile of applications with great strengths in each of them. I guess it particularly resonated to me because this person will be my successor, the individual who could and will take this pilot position to many directions it can possibly go and the opportunities are huge. I thought that there is no need to point out every single thing you volunteered for since unfortunately I only had a limited time to read them. I’d like to read a select number of volunteer or working experiences so there is room to elaborate what you did there, and how it connects to what we are looking for. I wonder, do companies think of the same way when the hire new staff? I want him or her to have the skills that it takes and maybe some that I wish I did as soon as I started in the position. I was looking for passion! Passion not necessarily for the job (although that would be nice) but more so for the organization because we are serving students! In retrospect, I now reflect on how companies  feel when trying to see how much the applicant wanted to work with them and all they see is that the mission statement is just pasted in there. What is even worse is when nothing about it is mentioned at all!

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, now I know.

The short-listing is next week. We’ll see what happens. After that I’m actually more excited, or nervous, or both about the next stage – the interviews! I’ll keep you all posted!



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