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60,000 co-op placements

Co-op

Foaming chemistry is just part of the fun in Science Venture.

Thirty-five years after launching one of Canada’s largest co-operative education programs, UVic’s Co-operative Education Program and Career Services reached new heights, celebrating 60,000 co-op work term placements in February 2011.

In the spring of 2011, 35 years after the launch of UVic’s co-operative education program, biochemistry student Britney Allen secured the program’s 60,000th co-op work term when she was hired by Science Venture to work as a science and technology camp instructor. She provided hands-on science, engineering and technology learning opportunities for students entering grades one to 12.

“It says ‘big kid’ on the back of my shirt, and that’s pretty much what my job is,” says Allen. “I get to share my enthusiasm for science with students. This experience has taught me that I might want to become a teacher, which is something that I wasn’t sure of before. I had no idea that classroom management and curriculum development could be so interesting, challenging and engaging.”

UVic’s award-winning Science Venture program conducts summer camps and classroom workshops across Vancouver Island and BC, inspiring youth to explore the possibilities of science, engineering and technology.

Putting learning into motion

Like many co-op students, Allen heard about the co-op program when she first applied to UVic, and decided co-op would be the ideal way to alternate her academic experiences with relevant real-life learning in the workplace. “I thought it would be interesting to try different job opportunities and add that to my UVic experience.”

Allen is one of more than 20,000 students who have pursued a co-op degree at UVic since the university’s co-operative education program was established in 1976. To date, co-op students have completed more than 15,000 years of work and have earned more than $600 million in salaries.

UVic’s co-op program does more than provide students with work experience—it gives them the opportunity to work alongside professionals in their fields, explore possible career routes and put their learning in motion. The program also connects UVic to the community by forging partnerships with employer organizations. In fact, many employers use co-op as a recruitment tool and hire former co-op students as full-time employees.

“Co-op is such a multi-faceted tool,” says Norah McRae, executive director of UVic Co-op and Career Services. “It’s a learning strategy but it’s also a way to generate lifelong connections—co-op students go on to become co-op employers because they understand how valuable the experience is to everyone involved.”

A competency-based approach

Not only is UVic’s co-op program one of the largest in Canada, it’s also a trailblazer. UVic co-op is the only Canadian co-op program to use a competency based assessment model—during each work term, students and employers assess student learning in relation to 10 core competencies, as well as program-specific, professional and international competencies. All UVic co-op students began applying this model to their work terms in the summer of 2011 and competency assessment tools are now available to any UVic student or alumnus at www.uvic.ca/coopandcareer/competencykit.

Co-op facts

  • One in four UVic students participates in co-op.
  • Nearly 2,600 placements are completed each year in Victoria, across Canada and around the world.
  • UVic’s co-op program was established in 1976 in the Departments of Chemistry and Physics. The program secured 58 placements in its first year; today it includes 13 co-op offices that provide opportunities for students in 47 academic areas.

Career support beyond co-op

Co-op and Career Services supports students in all aspects of their career development. In addition to administering 13 co-op programs, staff members provide career support to all UVic students and alumni. Services include one-on-one career appointments, help with resumés and cover letters, career preparation workshops, and access to job postings of all kinds. Support details at www.uvic.ca/coopandcareer and postings at https://learninginmotion.uvic.ca.

Three kits, hundreds of resources

Students and alumni can find more than 115 career-related resources on the Co-op and Career website at www.uvic.ca/coopandcareer.

Created in the fall of 2010, the site highlights include a career strategy kit, competency kit, and a work search kit.

This experience has taught me that I might want to become a teacher, which is something that I wasn’t sure of before.”

— Britney Allen

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