The flexible work hours were definitely a positive aspect. I have a few medical concerns that required priority over work, and if I had to miss a day because I couldn't walk, my supervisor was understanding and allowed me to make up the hours the rest of the week. I also liked that everyone was willing to teach me and help me understand how the plant operates, without making me feel like I was taking away from their time. I had a few different mentors who would check in on me and ensure I wasn't bored.
I did not appreciate the management's stance on Level Three Snow Emergencies. In the area I live, the government officials can declare different levels of snow emergencies, and at Level Three, employers cannot require unnecessary employees to come into work, and should not penalize them if they do not show up, until the emergency is downgraded. Additionally, any non-emergency personnel caught on the roads can be ticketed for driving in unsafe conditions. When this happened two days in a row, upper management told all of the office employees (whose presence is not required for the plant to operate safely) who had not come to work that they must take personal/vacation days for the days they missed, and that they were expected to come to work if it happened again. To see an organization that places such high importance on workplace and home safety to completely disregard the local government's rules on road safety was deeply concerning, and it is unacceptable.
I also disliked that I was often given busy work -- work that needed to be done, but was best passed on to someone whose work could be delayed because it wasn't as important other employees' work.
Additionally, it took a long time to get going on assignments because of how long it took to give the interns computer access, and to activate their SAP numbers. I felt useless for the first week I was there.
Advice to Potential Interns
Take initiative! Believe it or not, your supervisor does not hover over you to see how you're doing, or if you need help. If you need help, ask for it. If you want more to do, or feel like an assignment is unclear, find someone who will assist you.
Advice to Management
Do. Not. Require non-essential employees to come to work when their district is on a Level Three Snow Emergency. I watched many coworkers lose respect for the management members who believed that those employees who did not want to risk driving in the dangerous weather should take vacation/personal days. It is the law, and you're lucky no one felt like suing.
I think that it would be very helpful if FirstEnergy paid the fat co-op fee that students have to pay to complete their mandatory co-op sessions. It is $550 per semester, and I think it would be nice to have a portion of that paid by the company hiring the co-ops -- whatever company they work for.
Sample Interview Questions
"Sell yourself, right now. Why should we hire you?" I completely flopped on this one, but I still managed to get hired. Just be prepared to talk about yourself, and to tell your interviewers why you are the best candidate for the co-op position.
"What do you like to do in your spare time?" And along with this one, normally a "Why [fill in the blank]?" accompanies it. So, if you like to play video games, like I do, I was also asked "What types?" It helps if you can give a cheesy (but truthful) reason why your hobbies make you a better person.