Maximize Your University Learning Experience with Co-op

By University of Waterloo Modified on November 03, 2022
Tags : Academics | Careers | Money

Earn your degree, build your resumé, and make money, all at the same time.

Maximize Your University Learning Experience with Co-op

Maybe you've known since kindergarten that you want to be a scientist or the next great video game developer, but you aren't sure where to start. Wouldn't it be great to gain experience in your field, make connections, build your resumé and earn money — all at the same time? Meet co-op.

Co-op is a unique opportunity to integrate paid work experience with your studies while learning more about yourself and the future direction of your career. Co-op can involve one or multiple work terms. At the University of Waterloo, students alternate between school terms and four to six co-op terms.

Exploring and defining your career path

It's so common to feel lost in terms of your future or to change your career paths. Co-op really helps with this, as the multiple industries with different employers you'll be working with will give you a sense of where you might see yourself in the future. You don't like one job? Check that off the list of things you know you don't want to be doing. You really enjoyed another? Now you know that maybe you see yourself having a future in that field.

With co-op, you'll get the opportunity to work all over! You could work in a different country, a different province, or even a different city — there's potential to work almost anywhere. You'll find jobs close to home but also jobs where you'll get to experience living in a whole new environment for a while. It's a great opportunity to experience living somewhere else without committing to moving there permanently.

The benefits that come with co-op are endless. Put aside the money aspect, experience, and future guidance — you'll also gain new skills, make helpful contacts, and build and refine your resumé.

Developing soft skills

You'll get the chance to develop a certain set of skills that is rapidly growing in significance: "soft skills." You'll find yourself managing your time more wisely, collaborating with others, developing communication skills, and even building resilience. These skills are in high demand by today's employers, and co-op is a fantastic way to develop them.

At Waterloo, co-op students get the benefit of taking a series of courses called WatPD. These courses cover career fundamentals, communication, teamwork, ethical decision-making, and report writing, to help you develop skills that'll set you apart from other university graduates.

(Considering that over two million students enroll in a post-secondary institution in Canada each year, it's important to make your mark!)

Grabbing your career by the horns

By pursuing a co-op program, you'll graduate with the credentials that everyone has, with one key distinction: you also get the oh-so-valuable work experience that few students have.

Everyone's either going to be applying to post-grad, or applying for jobs after graduation. You may feel like — oh, the person with the better grade is obviously going to get in over me, or oh, this person seems way more qualified. However, don't forget that you'd have a secret weapon too... some legit, top-notch work experience. Shout out to co-op!

Learn more about co-op options at Waterloo

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