Co-op Employer of the Year

Each year, UVic co-op staff nominate outstanding co-operative education employers who have gone above and beyond to support co-op student learning. This award was re-launched in 2011. Each year, the winning employer is recognized at the annual Employer Appreciation Reception.

2016 Employers of the Year - HES PV and Parks Canada

More than 1,000 employer organizations hire University of Victoria (UVic) co-op students each year, giving them the opportunity to apply their academic studies and make a difference in the community. In 2016, two extraordinary organizations were recognized for their outstanding student mentorship: Victoria-based solar energy specialist HES PV was named the 2016 UVic Co-op Employer of the Year (fewer than 50 employees), while Parks Canada was awarded the 2016 Co-op Employer of the Year (more than 50 employees).

A prolific employer in British Columbia and at sites across Canada, Parks Canada has mentored more than 230 UVic co-op students. The BC Coastal Field Unit here in Victoria hired 24 students in 2016 alone—these students worked in a wide range of positions including Species at Risk Garry Oak Recovery Technicians, National Historic Site Social Media Researchers, and Visitor Service Attendant Assistants.

Parks Canada hires students from across all of UVic co-op program areas and is recognized for its strong commitment to mentorship—staff encourage students to learn about the higher-level policy and research that guides their projects and to spend time with several different teams. This approach helps students gain a bigger picture understanding of Parks Canada and helps poise them for future work within the agency. Beyond co-op, Parks Canada staff contribute to UVic classes in the Faculties of Fine Arts and Social Sciences, regularly take part in mock interview clinics and are active participants at several UVic events.

"We are grateful for the fresh perspective and enthusiasm co-op students bring to Parks Canada,” says Helen Davies, Field Unit Superintendent for Parks Canada’s Coastal BC Field Unit “Whether monitoring rare sand dune ecosystems or helping the public discover our special places, Parks Canada benefits each year from the unique contributions of co-op students who, in turn, make the most of the hands-on experiences we offer.”

With less than a dozen regular staff, HES PV’s hiring record is impressive. The solar electricity specialist has hired 34 co-op students since the summer of 2009, including 18 students on their first work term. Co-op students are often hired from the Faculty of Engineering and have contributed to projects that have made a real impact in communities across Canada. A local example is the T’Sou-ke Solar Project, which involved the installation of solar panels on various buildings throughout the T’Souke First Nation community.

“As a former UVic co-op student, I understand the value to both employers and students which comes from the co-op program. At HES PV we continue to recognize the important roll co-op students can play in our organization.” says Daniel Partridge from HES PV, Mech Eng. EIT. “Our co-op students work on projects ranging from designing new photovoltaic systems to helping on installations. The determination and dedication they bring each day allows HES PV to undertake bigger and more complex projects, which ultimately provides our students with a more fulfilling educational experience.”

HES PV has also supported experiential learning at UVic by participating in engineering classes on the topic of sustainable energy systems, and by taking part in the Co-op Student for a Day shadowing initiative, which invites students who are interested in co-op to spend a day with co-op employer organizations.

“We are so thankful to HES PV and to Parks Canada for the mentorship and incredible learning that they have provide to our co-op students,” says Norah McRae, executive director of UVic Co-op and Career. “Their commitment to supporting our students’ personal growth and their focus on fostering community across our region and beyond are just a few of the reasons that we are proud to partner with these organizations.”

HES PV and Parks Canada were formally recognized at Co-op and Career’s Employer Appreciation Reception on February 22, 2017.

2015 Employer of the Year - Carmanah Technologies Co.

Awarding one company among countless amazing employers is always a difficult decision. It is with great pleasure, however, that Co-op and Career has named Victoria-based LED and solar technology provider Carmanah Technologies Corporation as the 2015 UVic Co-op Employer of the Year.

Carmanah Technologies has provided positions for an impressive 18 co-op students since 2011 and has hired eight of these former students into full-time positions after graduation. The company, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2016, is known for welcoming students into Carmanah’s open and inclusive culture as valued team members rather than temporary employees.

“Carmanah is passionate about co-op,” says Alison Keller, a UVic Bachelor of Commerce graduate, currently on Carmanah’s business development team. “Students are excited to be part of a community conscious and environmentally engaged workplace, and to see the impact that our products, and their work have on the world around them.”

The organization has hired co-op students from a wide range of UVic programs to work in diverse areas, including sales, business development, communications, engineering, product development, product design and more. Students are mentored throughout their work terms and are encouraged to learn about all aspects of the company, products and projects—this accelerates their personal growth and career success.

Carmanah has also supported experiential learning right here on campus. Staff regularly volunteer to take part in UVic Co-op and Career’s mock interview clinics, and also assist with the “What can you do with your degree” event series.

“Carmanah Technologies has consistently demonstrated its commitment to fostering exceptional student learning opportunities,” says Norah McRae, executive director of UVic Co-op and Career. “The quality of students’ work experiences, the mentorship provided by senior staff, the opportunity for professional growth and the focus on developing products that make a positive impact on our communities are just a few of the reasons that we are thrilled to count Carmanah as a valued partner in education.”

2014 Co-op Employer of the Year - Island Health

Co-op and Career congratulates Island Health, our Co-op Employer of the Year for 2014. Since 2011, Island Health has hired over 125 co-op students—a remarkable commitment to learning. They also hire UVic graduates who have completed undergraduate or graduate degrees.

Island Health is the largest employer on Vancouver Island and provides a comprehensive range of public health services to 768,000 Island residents through a network of hospitals, clinics, centres, health units and residential facilities. Many committed individuals contribute to hiring students in such a large organization, and Co-op and Career would like to particularly recognize Island Health employers John Bartle-Clar, Audrey Gibson, Keva Glynn, John Harper, Angeli Mitra and Rod O’Connell for their ongoing support of our co-op students’ learning.

Island Health Victoria has hired students from many programs to work in diverse areas, including occupational safety, health and wellness; summer camps for children with disabilities; hygiene; surgical informatics; policy and business analysis; communications; human resources; biomedical engineering and more. Through their work terms, students have applied their learning directly to support client care and benefited from direct experience with a wide range of health professionals. They’ve been able to see the impact of their work on clients’ quality of life and on the wider health care system in Greater Victoria.

2013 Co-op Employer of the Year - Teck

It takes a very special co-op employer to stand out from the nearly 1,000 employer organizations that hired UVic co-op students in 2013, since each and every organization has provided outstanding learning opportunities to our amazing co-op students. So it’s with great excitement that Co-op and Career has named Teck, Canada’s largest diversified resource company, as our 2013 UVic Co-op Employer of the Year.

Teck has hired an impressive 105 engineering and computer science/math co-op students in the past three years alone, welcoming students at every stage of their academic studies, from first year to graduating students. The company prides itself on providing mentorship; students are placed within a team that includes a lead engineer and engineers-in-training—everyone contributes to ongoing feedback and a holistic approach to learning. 

“Teck is passionate about mentoring students by providing dynamic co-op experiences and having a consistent presence on campus at career fairs and info sessions,” says Duncan Hogg, Engineering and Computer Science/Math co-op coordinator. “It’s not surprising that a co-op position at Teck is highly regarded by our students.”

The company has also supported experiential learning right here on campus. As a sponsor of UVic’s student-run Formula SAE team since 2011, Teck has given the team the resources to design and build open-wheel race cars that are submitted to the Formula SAE design series each year.

Within the company, Teck has hired students to work on projects as diverse as increasing the reliability and maintenance of haul trucks, to supporting real-time critical information systems. Students have worked at Teck’s operations across British Columbia, including Highland Valley Copper in Logan Lake, the Trail metallurgical complex, and at its steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley.

“Across the board, Teck has enhanced student learning,” says Norah McRae, executive director of Co-op and Career. “Students reflect on their competency development as part of their work term experience, and regardless of their projects at Teck, they consistently identify teamwork and communication as key competencies valued by the company—these line up perfectly with the skills we encourage students to develop. Teck is also notable for its commitment to communities—we are proud to call Teck a partner in education.”

Teck was formally recognized at Co-op and Career’s Employer Appreciation Reception on February 25.

2012 Co-op Employer of the Year - Institute of Ocean Sciences

In December 2012, analytical research chemist Norman Crewe of Sidney's Institute of Ocean Sciences was named 2012 Co-op Employer of the Year from among seven outstanding employer partners nominated by Co-op and Career staff.

Since 1996, Crewe has hired two UVic co-op students per term, and many other IOS scientists also hire students. Crewe’s past students are grateful to him as a supervisor, especially appreciating his thorough training, guidance, feedback and challenging projects. "Norman puts much thought into deciding on an interesting dataset to assign each co-op student,” says biochemistry and microbiology co-op coordinator Rozanne Poulson. “He encourages co-op students to attend IOS open houses and weekly seminars on a variety of ocean research topics, and to network with graduate students and research scientists. He has become a lifelong mentor and friend of many co-op graduates who have worked in his lab.”

2011 Co-op Employer of the Year - Recreation Integration Victoria

In December 2011, Recreation Integration Victoria was named our Employer of the Year.

RIV is an organization that provides socialization, life skills, and respite opportunities for people with disabilities through access to community-based leisure and recreation opportunities.

Hear from RIV staff about how they support co-operative education and the influence co-op students have in their workplace:

Since 1989, 63 students have worked for RIV on co-operative education work terms, with 14 of them returning for a second term!  For each of them, the RIV staff have provided thoughtful interview and orientation processes, and worked effectively with each to develop their competencies.  Students have been pushed outside their comfort zone, and thrived with the support and guidance they received as they developed into their roles.  Students report that working at RIV has impacted their motivations and interests and that their experience positively influenced their student life.

Not only did students learn about community living, integration and inclusiveness, they also learned where their interests and passions might take them. 

Says one co-op student:

"By working at RIV, I realized that I was interested in a career in health care.  I became very interested in the neurophysiology behind developmental disabilities. I began taking neuroscience courses, and now want to work toward a career involving neuroscience or work with people with developmental disabilities."

Congratulations to RIV!

2015 nominees

  • Carmanah Technologies Co.
  • ImmunoPrecise Antibodies Ltd.
  • Peter Kiewit Infrastructure Co.

2014 nominees

  • Home Energy Solutions
  • Island Health
  • RevenueWire

2013 nominees

  • Aro (Michael Cooper)
  • Chatterblock Inc. (James DeGreef)
  • CBI Health Centre - Victoria (Mike Allegretto)
  • BC Ministry of Children and Family Development - MSD and MCFD Legislation, Litigation and Appeals Branch (Leah Bailey)
  • National Defence and the Canadian Forces - Maritime Forces Pacific (Margot Cutcher)
  • Natural Resources Canada - Pacific Forestry Centre (Katherine Bleiker, Leland Humble)
  • Teck (all team members)
  • Zoetis (Dr. Jan Burian)

2012 nominees

  • Office of the Ombudsperson, Province of British Columbia
  • Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Resources - Mines and Minerals Division (Jim Lewis, Mineral Economist)
  • Schneider Electric
  • Atlantic College - Extramural Centre (Wales, UK)
  • Natural Resources Canada - Pacific Forestry Centre (Katherine Bleiker, Research Scientist - Bark Beetle Ecology)
  • National Defence and Canadian Forces - Fleet Maintenance Facility, Cape Breton (John Misener, Environmental Technician)
  • Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development - Intergovernmental Relations and Planning Branch
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Institute of Ocean Sciences (Norman Crewe, Analytical Chemist)

2011 nominees

  • AbeBooks (Tim Munro)
  • BC Cancer Agency - Deeley Research Centre (Dr. Julian Lum)
  • BC Cancer Agency - Informatics (Jeff Barnett)
  • BC Ministry of Health (Aureleo Reyes)
  • BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure - Properties and Business Management Branch (Lesley Nicholl)
  • College of Applied Biology (Linda Michaluk)
  • District of Saanich - GIS (Nicola Parfett)
  • Eco Care Technologies (Diane Parker)
  • National Defence and Canadian Forces - MARPAC (Margot Cutcher)
  • Neverblue (Dawn Robson)
  • Recreation Integration Victoria (Doug Nutting, Bonnie Blacklock and Faye Cawsey)
  • Schneider Electric
  • Transvergence Interactive Inc. (Brad Williams)
  • Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (Monica Muller)

How are employers nominated for this award?

Co-op coordinators nominate employers for Employer of the Year.

  • Coordinators are invited to nominate ONE top employer before December 3 (considering the company or division of the organization).  
  • Before submitting their nomination, coordinators should ask their contact within the organization to see who is the most appropriate person to name in the nomination (The contact themselves? Someone else?).
  • Before they submit their nomination, coordinators must inform and obtain permission from their nominee.
  • Once all the nominations are received, the selection committee will review, and select a winner based on the criteria below, notifying the coordinator who nominated the successful candidate.
  • Coordinator to notify their successful nominee that they have won this award, and invite them to the Employer Appreciation Reception in February.
  • The winner will be invited to speak at the reception.

What's included in the nomination process?

  1. Staff letter of support (maximum 2 pages):
    • Describe the work experience provided by the employer and how it exceeded your students’ and your own expectations in comparison to other employers
    • How does this employer foster exceptional experiences for co-op students?
    • What mentoring relationships were provided to students during their work terms?
    • How has the employer enhanced opportunities for the student’s professional growth (career and competency development)?
    • How did this employer contribute to Co-operative Education, including supporting on-campus events, either financially or with in-kind support (such as attending WCYDWYDI events, info sessions, career fairs, interview clinics, networking events, guest speakers, attending poster sessions, being mentors, etc.)
    • Please describe any additional intangible qualities of this employer, if any.
  2. Nomination form (docx)
  3. Hiring history (past 3 years)

Email nomination packages to the selection committee chair before December 3.

The awards selection committee uses the criteria listed below to evaluate candidates. Nominees will be scored on a scale of 50 and the value of each criterion is indicated in brackets. 

  • Quality of work experience (e.g., Link with education, depth of work experience, level of responsibility, access to challenging projects or assignments, etc.) (15 points)
  • Contribution to Co-op and Career Education (e.g., supporting on-campus events, either financially or with in-kind support, such as attending WCYDWADI events, info sessions, career fairs, interview clinics, networking events, guests speakers, attending poster sessions, being mentors, etc.) (10 points)
  • Provision for a professional growth experience – career, competency, or academic development (e.g., Professional Development, memberships or participation in professional associations, etc.) (10 points)
  • The mentoring relationship provided to the student during the work term (10 points)
  • Other (5 points)