Browse through some of the most frequently asked questions about Workplace Education (Co-op).
Co-op is a mode of learning which combines high quality training with community and industrial interaction through work placements. A Co-op program formally integrates a student’s academic studies with relevant work experience. The usual plan is for the student to alternate experience in appropriate fields of business, industry, government and the professions according to the following criteria:
- Each work situation is developed and / or approved by the Co-op institution as a suitable learning environment;
- The Co-op student is engaged in productive work rather than merely observing;
- The Co-op student receives remuneration for the work performed;
- The institution monitors the Co-op student’s progress on the job;
- The Co-op student’s performance on the job is supervised and evaluated by the student’s employer.
A Co-op student will gain 4 to 12 months of paid work experience directly related to their field of study. Co-op students earn competitive wages, which help them meet the costs of their education. Employer contacts gained through the Co-op experience may increase a student’s employment opportunities after graduation.
The most immediate benefit of Co-op is work experience. With four months or more of industry-related employment on your resume, a student will have a foot firmly planted on the first rung of their career ladder.
While performing in a Co-op job, the student will be applying the knowledge gained in the classroom to the working world. The experience will be part of an invaluable exchange of information between the student and their classmates, instructors, and employers.
During the work experience the student will be paid an average monthly salary, which means they will earn a considerable amount of money over the work term period. This can defray a large portion of the costs of education.
The Centre for Workplace Education (Co-op) solicits a high percentage of the work experience placements. Students have access to personal assistance in their own job search.
Many Co-op employers will choose to hire students for full-time employment after they finish the program. Additionally, most students develop a strong network of industry contacts while working.
Co-op is an educational program, not a job placement service. While no guarantees are possible, the Co-op Coordinator will assist the students in securing suitable work placements. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the student to find and secure a meaningful work experience. A great deal will depend on current employment demands, the student’s particular skills and experience and their ability to ‘sell’ themselves in a job interview. While it is unusual for students to be unsuccessful in securing a position, the following are some of the reasons why this may occur:
- Some may require additional interpersonal and communication skills to become employable;
- Some may not be able to consider out-of-town opportunities;
- The local economy may affect the ability to find suitable placements;
- Some may not be willing to adjust their expectations to their marketable skills.
No. The choice is up to the student. However, there are several reasons why students may wish to consider returning:
- they are assured of a job and need not worry about further interviews;
- the student may gain considerably more in-depth experience on a second work term;
- many employers look at their Co-op students as prospective permanent employees upon graduation;
- employers continue to offer Co-op jobs if their students return since their ‘investment’ pays off. This benefits the whole program.
Whatever the decision, it is essential that the student leaves their position on a positive note. Students will want a favorable reference from their employer.
No. However when students continually reject viable Co-op job opportunities that are related to their field, they take the risk of not being placed for a scheduled work term. Students are encouraged to be flexible in considering job options and to recognize that many potential learning opportunities cannot be fully assessed from a written job description and/or employment interview.
Students are expected to find their own employment with the assistance of their Co-op Coordinator, as this experience will prepare them for future job searches. Students receive instruction on such topics as job search techniques, preparing effective resumes, how to conduct themselves during interviews, and on-the-job success.
No. The Centre for Workplace Education (Co-op) will maintain contact with the employer and student periodically throughout the work term. Students are encouraged to stay in contact with the Co-op office and can contact us at any time throughout their work term.