Why UVic’s Co-op Program is the Best Thing Going

Welcome to UVic’s co-op program! If you’ve been feeling nervous, unsure if this is a good idea or completely lost as to where to begin, let me reassure you.

This is an incredibly good idea.

IMG_4007I switched into a co-op program halfway through my degree, and I can honestly say that it’s the best thing I’ve done for my education.

So far, I have worked as a teen expedition leader in the Rocky Mountains and been an intern at a physiotherapy clinic. Co-op terms allow you to dip your toes into the work world, make some amazing connections, get a feel for the incredibly broad range of job opportunities available to you, and focus on learning while working. Plus, you (usually) get paid! NOW I have your attention hey??

First things first, you must be accepted into co-op. Depending on your choice of studies, co-op is either an academic requirement (like mine) or an additional component to your degree. If this is the case, you need to apply to a specific co-op program and ensure you meet some minimum standards. You can find lots more information on the Co-op and Career site.

If you are accepted, you have to take a course called “Introduction to Professional Practice.” This course gives you some tips and tricks about doing well in your co-op, as well as the expectations of the university and your workplace.

Next, you should know that there are two ways to find a co-op placement.

Number 1:  UVic’s “Learning in Motion” site. This site is managed by your co-op coordinator (there are different coordinators for each department), and will display all of the job postings/opportunities that the university has connections to.

This is a great tool because it gives you an idea of what kinds of jobs are related to and available for your co-op experiences. I can almost guarantee you’ll be surprised by the range of jobs on there. I, for one, had no idea that my degree in Recreation and Health Education could result in a job working as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for an enormous fireworks festival, or as an intern for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Number 2: You can find your own placement. You DO need to get it approved by your co-op coordinator, so you should for sure talk to them and keep them updated on your job hunting to ensure you are both on the same page. It’s very helpful to go on the Learning in Motion site first, to get an idea of the kinds of competencies, job descriptions and learning objectives you should be looking for in an outside job.

After you get hired for a co-op job, there are a few more things to know about the process.

There are assignments! Co-op terms are considered to be an academic program, so you will have to complete a range of assignments that are meant to help you link yourself, the workplace and school-based learning into your personal and professional development. During your first week on the job, you will need to log onto the Learning in Motion site and complete Learning Objectives and Competency Development goals for your work term. These are big buzz words in the co-op world, so you’ll be focusing on them a lot. These are sent to both your co-op coordinator and your employer, so you can all work together to help you achieve your goals.

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Halfway through your work term, you will assess your progress and discuss your goals with your co-op coordinator and employer during a mid-term evaluation. This will also happen at the end of your work term. It’s a great way to look back on your time spent with an organization and summarize your new competencies for future co-ops.

One more tip! There is a photo competition at the end of each summer co-op term, so make sure you take some epic pics of you in your workplace. That’s a pretty quick run down of the process, but hopefully it helps you as you start your co-op journey.

Of note: No matter what, participating in co-operative education WILL ensure that completing your degree takes longer than if you don’t (5+ years). It is not always easy, but I for one think it’s definitely worth it!

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