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How Should I Represent My Co-Op Position on My Resume?

Make Sure Co-op Experience is Duly Noted on Your Resume

Q:  I am working on my associate degree with a double major in purchasing/business management. I have been a co-op student with the same company in the procurement department for a year and a half, and have just finished my co-op requirement. I really enjoy working in this field. I have a background in accounts payable, personnel, and office administration.

The company doesn't have a position available for another buyer, only the co-op position. I keep hoping they will create one just for me, but that is unlikely. My purchasing manager is allowing me to stay as long as he is allowed to keep me. I started out as a purchasing assistant and advanced to buyer in September 2001.

Should I put the co-op position on my cover letter and/or resume, and how should I state it, including the advancement to buyer? Do most companies not want to hire you until you have finished your degree? Or is it my age? I am an older student.

A:  By all means, put on your resume that you performed the duties of a buyer. But it is important to say you performed these duties as a co-op student. This way, you are telling future employers that you have experience as a buyer, but in an entry-level capacity. It will also explain why you are looking for another position. Age becomes an issue if you make it one. Some companies prefer candidates to complete their degree before they bring them on as regular employees. It could be that the companies to which you are applying to might expect their candidates to have a degree, along with a couple of years of experience in the field. There are two things you can do: apply for entry-level buyer positions, or apply for senior purchasing assistant positions. Granted, these jobs are entry level, but they would be regular positions, as opposed to a temporary co-op position.