Co-op: Learn It, Live It, Love It

Posted on Friday, December 11th, 2015

Co-op: what is it, how do I apply, and is it worth it? These are the types of questions we’ve been getting a lot of lately. So, by popular demand, we figured now is as good a time as any to compile any and all co-op information just for YOU!

What is Co-op?

The co-op stream of the degree requires you to rotate between academic semesters and work terms. Depending on the degree chosen, these work terms will be 4 or 8 months in length, and take place in the Fall, Winter and Summer semesters. For example, the co-op stream of the Biomedical Engineering degree looks something like this:

Year Fall Semester
(September-December)
WinterSemester
(January-April)
Summer Semester
(May-August)
One Academic Academic OFF
Two Academic Academic Work Term 1
Three Academic Work Term 2 Work Term 3
Four Academic Academic Work Term 4
Five Work Term 5 Academic  
 
In this example, you wouldn’t start your first co-op work term until the end of second year! That gives you almost two years to fill your head with knowledge, and then apply that knowledge to a program-related job. You won’t even know what to do with all that learning!  This is so exciting!

Within those first two years, you will also take a ‘Co-op Prep Course’, or what we like to call a ‘Co-op 101’. You will learn the ins & outs of resume and cover letter writing, professional demeanor, interview techniques and questions, and basically, how to be a rock-star when it comes time to apply & land those co-op jobs.

Recruit Guelph will be your home throughout the 5 years. Through the co-op department, you will work with your coordinator to help find jobs, tweak your documents or to contact other co-op students/employers. They will also be your go-to resource when you’re in need of career advice and guidance! The semester prior to your work term, you will undergo a job search. Recruit Guelph will likely be the main platform you browse as it contains hundreds of postings for Guelph co-op students! UofG students have a fantastic reputation and employers keep coming back for more. Recruit Guelph is also where you will upload your resume/cover letter, apply to the job, be notified of an interview and receive job offers!

Don’t think you’re limited to Recruit Guelph, either! The co-op program offers you flexibility in your job search. You’re more than welcome to seek out your own employment, even if it’s in another country or continent. You’ll just connect with your coordinator and the employer, ensure the position meets the requirements of co-op, and you’re off.

How Do I Apply?

Simple! When you’re applying to your program of choice in OUAC, and it has a co-op option, just click ‘yes’ beside ‘co-op’.

If you’re on the fence, we would recommend applying to it anyway! It is much easier to back-out of co-op in your first year than it is to try and tap into it. And, you’ll automatically be considered for the general stream of the program if you don’t meet the cut-off for the co-op stream. You can’t lose!   

Is It Worth It?

Wait…did we mention that the work terms also include competitive wages? So while it may extend your degree beyond just 4 years, the cash being tucked away into your wallet is undoubtedly worth it. And while your summer job at the golf course may give you a wicked tan and be a lot of fun; working towards your career will not only be enjoyable, too, but fulfilling and beneficial to your life beyond university.

But, money isn’t the most important thing; in addition, co-op will help you:

  • Develop professionalism; on your resume, in a work environment and in your everyday life
  • Determine what parts of your degree you’re most interested in and what career path you’d like to follow; you can ‘try’ a few different careers that your degree has the potential to lead you to
  • Improve your skills in the areas of: organization, time management, collaboration, communication, independence, responsibility………..the list is extensive.
  • Build a network of employers, references and contacts
  • Enhance your understanding within the classroom as you’ll witness real-life application of the principles and concepts learned

So, is co-op right for you? We hope that this article helped a wee bit in finding the answer to that question. Also, check out some co-op student success stories – they are also a good tool to help you make a decision.

OH; by the way, it’s Friday (i.e. FRI-YAY) – we did not mean to rhyme 3 times, but let’s roll with it and appreciate this day for a moment…

Harry Potter smiling with his arms out.

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