Co-op Students: The Whats

Being part of the Waterloo coop program has been an amazing and integral part on shaping who I am. There are not many schools which provide students the oportunity to complete approximately 2 years of work experience before graduatation.

During my coops, I often get asked a similar question. What is it?

To some of you when reading this, you will know exactly what I am talking about and might have a nostalgic moment sometime today. To some, this won’t really be interesting at all. I mainly post this to give you a bit of insight on how Waterloo Coop works and my general view on the process.

Coop Streams

Waterloo Engineering programs are split up between 2 terms, 4 stream and 8 stream. All that means is whether you start your first coop 4 months after beginning university or 8 months after beginning university, and then alternating between school and work after every 4 months. What that essentially means is that, there is a constant flow of students who are able to work. As one stream finishes their term, the next stream goes and replaces those positions.

Getting the Jobs

Jobmine is the main coop portal which provides a location for employers to post their different job positions and decide on their potential hires. For students, this is a place to query and apply to job postings, manage their interviews, and determine which jobs they want to take.

The way the hiring system works runs in 2 waves. The first wave being an initial job posting from all the employers and a mass application process by the students. The next stage in this wave is the interview process which happen over weeks, where you see almost 90% of the campus in suits, stepping in and out of classes to go attend interviews. After all the intervies have passed, the next stage is the ranking stage, where employers give the students a numberic value between 1-9, or no rank if they don’t want them, and the students supply a similar 1-9. The final stage is rankings complete when Jobmine determines your best placement based off the lowest sum of the employer-student rank.

The next wave is the same as the first wave, just continuous and in the span of weeks to arrange as many jobs as possible.

Based solely off personal experience, this is probably the most stressful time for coop students where you have to balance both the intensity of school with all the stress of finding a job and performing during interviews.

Work Term Reports

After students finish their coop, they are required to write a formal engineering report about any engineering related topic that happened during the work term. As these reports can determine whether you get a coop credit for that term. It is a continuous topic that all coop students must consider and plan while on their work term.

As for me, I generally like to find projects that I can be part of which include full cradle-to-cradle design properties involved. It is most useful when the project has different stages along with metrics that can be measured and analyzed.

My own take on this whole thing

When I initially started this process, it was quite an overwhelming change in my life, the immediate need and pressure to find a job and stay ontop of school work definetly left a huge burden on me from the start. But as I gain more and more coops under my belt, I realize that the initial stress and pressure was necessary and shapes what most Waterloo Coop students are; determined, driven, acts well under pressure, and always finds a way to succeed.

So I guess, to answer the initial questions, What is it? There is no one answer to this question, as it is different on a person to person basis. To me it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. It was the begining to a hallway of many doors yet to be open by me. A chance of shaping, learning, and molding of oneself to discover their own potential and growth. I will always promote and continue to support the idea and practice of Waterloo Coop.