Work while you learn - co-operative education
Co-op at the graduate level
Daoyu Lai (also known as Iris) has a passion for learning. In the past ten years the graduate student has completed nearly three degrees and is about to embark on her sixth co-op work term. For Lai, co-op is the perfect complement to a well-balanced education.
Shortly after finishing her undergrad degree in electronic engineering in China, Lai immigrated to Canada. After a few years in the workforce she decided to continue her education at the University of Victoria, where she completed a second undergraduate degree in computer science along with four co-op work terms. Still, Iris wanted to learn more. "I like doing research and development", she says, "so I decided to go to grad school."
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Lai was accepted into UVic's Master of Applied Science Program and has been enjoying the combination of academics and work experience. She is about to begin her sixth and final co-op work term working for a second term as a software engineer at Quester Tangent, a company based in Saanichton which designs software products and hardware systems.
Lai is responsible for programming and coding and her main project involves a seabed classification software, which will help scientists, as well as commercial users, to display the classification results of seabeds while out on the water.
"It's cool to work on something that [involves] marine science," says Lai, who was interested in marine science in high school. "I think it's challenging work." One of the highlights of her last work term was when she had the opportunity to go out on a boat to test acoustic devices. She hopes to expand her experience during her current work term.
Lai praises the co-op program for the chance to work in her field of study. "Co-op work provides the opportunities to work for companies that really interest you", she says. "It can help you choose your future career and whether you'd like to pursue permanent work with a particular company."
Real-life learning through co-op
At UVic, learning extends beyond the classroom. Through co-operative education (co-op), you can alternate terms in class with paid work terms in positions related to your field of study. You'll graduate with work experience, a great resume, contacts in your field and some extra cash in your pocket. As a co-op graduate, you'll be more likely to find relevant, permanent work and command a higher salary.
As a graduate co-op student, you can apply for jobs posted by employers or work with your co-op coordinator to develop and arrange funding for a job that is specific to your area of research. Students often arrange co-op work terms that involve research related to their graduate projects.
Do I need to apply for admission to the co-operative education program?
As a graduate student in the Faculty of Engineering, you must apply to the Engineering and Computer Science/Math Co-op program in order to participate in co-op. Apply as soon as possible; contact the co-op office to discuss your plans and decide if co-op is right for you. Participation in co-op will be determined after consultation with your graduate adviser and department.
Find out more about co-op
Find out how co-op students have put their academic skills into practice in the workplace and discover how co-op will contribute to your degree program. Visit the main co-op website to learn about co-operative education programs at UVic. Learn what is expected of co-op students and everything from international work terms and co-op exchanges to help with housing and co-op forms.
Co-operative education is more than just work experience - it's a learning strategy that will help you launch your career.
As a co-op student, you can explore your career options before you graduate and find the pathway that best suits your skills and interests. You're in charge of your career development and can pursue the jobs that connect with your academic goals.
Want to pursue a career in research? Get a head start by working for a leading employer in your field, or put your work experience towards professional accreditation.
Already have a dream employer in mind for after graduation? Apply for a co-op job with that employer and you could relay your work term into a full-time job offer. Many students are hired by their former co-op employers and have jobs lined up before they even graduate.
As a co-op student, you'll be fully supported throughout your job search. When you enter the program, you'll attend a series of workshops to help you develop skills like how to write a resume and how to behave in an interview. You'll also learn how to use the co-op information management system to search for jobs.
You'll also work very closely with your co-op adviser, a specific co-op coordinator who will be your contact throughout the duration of your program. Your adviser can help you with everything from job search strategies to supporting you while you're on your work term.
This will include the work site visit, where your adviser will visit you and your employer at the workplace, to check in and make sure that both you and your employer are having the best possible experience. If you are working somewhere where work site visit isn't possible, your co-op adviser will conduct the work site visit by telephone or other electronic method.
Your co-op adviser, and the rest of the Engineering and Computer Science/Math Co-op and Career team, will do everything possible to make you get the most out our your co-op experience.
Sometimes, a trip abroad is exactly what you need to see the world from a new perspective.
UVic has co-op exchange agreements with 17 institutions in 10 countries. Through the exchange program, UVic works with these partner institutions to send a UVic co-op student on a co-op placement through another university, while a student from that institution is placed in a co-op position here in Canada.
In some cases, students can embark on an academic exchange, followed by a co-op exchange, with the same institution abroad. Visit the Co-op website for more information about exchange possibilities.
Co-op in the
Participating in co-op can do more than providing you with work experience. It can also enrich your academic experience and your graduate research. You could pursue work experience that supplements your own research projects or expands them in new and exciting ways.
As a graduate co-op student, you can apply for jobs posted by employers or work with your co-op coordinator to develop and arrange funding for a job that is specific to your area of research.
Many of your professors are also co-op employers, hiring students to work on innovative initiatives. If you're interested in your professors' area of research, consider investigating the possibility of a work term on campus.
If you are an international student, participating in co-op will enable you to work for Canadian companies while you complete your degree at UVic.
You may participate in co-op as long as you have a valid study permit
engrcoop at uvic.ca
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