Millie’s Guide to CO-OP Programs in Canada
Wonder what it’s like to work full-time while studying at university? Find out how that’s possible in Canada!
Millie invited four panelists who have gone through co-op programs in Canada to our panel, “Millie’s Guide to CO-OP Programs in Canada”.
Our panelists were:
- Joshua Ayanbode: Mechanical Engineering (BASc, co-op) at University of Windsor (‘21)
- Alexandra Pena: International Relations and Political Science (BA, co-op) at University of British Columbia (‘23)
- Michelle Harli: Business Administration and Management (BBA, co-op) at University of Toronto (‘21)
- Ashfia Chowdhury: Genetics and Biochemistry (BSc, co-op) at Western University (‘21)
What exactly is a co-op program?
In short, co-op refers to the combination of academic studies and professional work. Essentially, by doing a co-op students get first-hand work experience in the industry, as part of their university course.
How the course is organized differs by universities and even faculties within the same university. In Ashifia’s case, the university set the first two years as a regular course and introduced co-op during the third year.
“Students get first-hand work experience in the industry, as part of their university course.”
What are the benefits of co-op programs?
By enrolling in a co-op program, students are trained to become valuable assets in the chosen work field as soon as they graduate. Getting at least four months of work placements as part of the degree helps the students save time while stepping ahead of their peers in terms of professional skills. The connections formed through the work placements are also valuable when co-op students are seeking jobs after they graduate.
If you are not sure which career to get into, co-op programs are perfect for you. By getting diverse work experiences during the degree, you will be able to narrow down your options and plan your career even before graduating.
What should I prepare to apply to co-op programs?
Applying to co-op programs is similar to applying to normal courses in Canada. In terms of academics, you are required to submit high school grades, and you may have to submit English proficiency test scores if you are an international student. Additionally, you may have to complete a personal statement describing your involvement in activities and leadership roles depending on the school and program of your choice. The last stage often is an interview, where you need to demonstrate your problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
Aside from the application process, our panelists recommend aspiring co-op students to network professionally whenever possible. This is a crucial skill in co-op programs, since you will be exposed to new groups of people regularly.
“Students will be exposed to new people regularly during co-op programs.”
What are some difficulties that co-op students face?
Once you get into a co-op program, you have to meet the grade requirements throughout your degree. This can be challenging especially when you have to deal with academics and work simultaneously. While maintaining a good GPA, you also need to write separate job applications for different companies, which is time-consuming.
The best way to lessen the burden? Planning in advance. Make sure you put aside time every week for job applications and divide the workload depending on the interviews or other work-related schedules you may have. Moreover, speak to your seniors for advice on managing time - they know best.
So… what do I do now?
Make sure you hear more from our panelists by simply watching the full panel. If you are considering applying for a co-op program, book a free consultation today to start planning your university preparation journey.