Co-op during COVID-19

A lot has changed over the past year, including what it's like to be a co-op student.

We know that this is a challenging time - your co-op office is here for you! We've put together some  information to keep you up-to-date on support and resources.

How to connect with us

Meeting with your co-op coordinators
We have moved all appointments and meetings to either video conference or phone. Contact your co-op coordinator by email or phone.

Meeting with your career educator
Career educators are currently supporting students and alumni over video and by phone. Connect with your career educator to arrange a video or phone appointment.

Work site visits
All appointments and meetings with co-op and career staff, including work site visits, will now be by phone, email or video conference. Your co-op coordinator will be in touch if you have a scheduled work site visit.

Co-op work terms and support

Here's the latest on how COVID-19 is affecting co-op at UVic.

Co-op work terms during COVID-19

At this time, job interviews may be conducted by video conference or through other remote setups, or may be in person with appropriate precautions taken.

Many co-op work terms are being completed remotely, while some places of work remain open and physical distancing measures have been put in place. Discuss your situation with your employer as well as your co-op coordinator if you have concerns.

If your employer closes your workplace as a result of COVID-19, ask if you’d be able to work remotely to complete your work term requirements. You can access resources about working remotely for both students (see below) and employers. If working remotely isn’t possible, contact your co-op coordinator immediately to explore other options. 

If your employer rescinds an offer or employment or cancels your work term as a result of COVID-19, contact your co-op coordinator to discuss your next steps.

If you are worried about COVID-19 in relation to the safety of your workplace, contact your co-op coordinator to discuss your options. It may be possible to arrange for you to work remotely or reduce the length of your work term.

Adjustments to work term lengths and requirements

Co-op work term requirements remain at the standard co-op requirement of 12 weeks of full-time paid work at 35 hours/week, for a total of 420 hours.

In instances where full-time work or 12 weeks of work is not a possibility, concessions will be considered on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the specific co-op program.

Your co-op coordinator’s approval will still be required for any self-developed opportunities, and that approval will, as always, be based on your work history and career plans, with the overall goal being to approve work terms that further your career preparation and development of relevant skills. Contact your coordinator to discuss your potential job or job offer.

Falling ill during a co-op work term

If you become ill during your work term, contact your co-op employer to let them know that you’re sick and won’t be coming to work/signing in remotely. Also inform your co-op coordinator. Employers in BC are being asked to be flexible with sick leave policies during this time, but employer organizations will have different policies around leave as well as pay. Contact your co-op coordinator for support.

If you are quarantined because of COVID-19 and unable to work as a result, you may be eligible for EI sickness benefits.

International co-op work terms

 Traveling for an international co-op work term

University-sanctioned international travel, including to the US, continues to be suspended, following guidance by the provincial health officer. This includes travel related to co-op work terms.

As such we encourage you to apply for jobs within Canada, or to consider working for an employer outside Canada through a remote work setup (in other words, you may be able to work remotely for an international employer).

However, the university recognizes that there may be exceptions to the temporary student travel suspension. A risk-informed process has been established to assess such exceptions on a case-by-case basis, with final approval resting with the Executive Director of Co-operative Education Program and Career Services. A Special Authorization for Travel Form needs to be fully completed. If you wish to apply for special authorization to work abroad for your co-op work term, please read the instruction provided in the form and contact Mami Schouten, who is the international co-op coordinator (mschout@uvic.ca) at your earliest convenience to discuss your plans.

International students completing co-op work terms in their home countries

If you are an international student and have returned to your home country, you may be able to arrange a work term in your home country. If you are in Canada and would be traveling back to your home country for a work term, your ability to travel would be dependent on travel advisories or restrictions at that time. 

International students

If you are an international student, you may continue to complete co-op work terms in Canada and may also complete work terms in your home country. The university encourages you to work with your host campus and/or employer for on the ground support.  Follow the instructions of your local authorities and health officials. Keep informed of Government of Canada travel advisories. Please continue to keep in close contact with your program lead and we will do all that we can to support you.

Work search resources and support

These resources can help you maintain momentum in your co-op work search.

Resources for your job search

Did you know we have more than 100 online resources around searching for and applying for work? Our resources include:

Resources to help you succeed at work

Tips for working remotely

In response to COVID-19, many organizations are hiring co-op students to work from home.

We recognize that working remotely is new for many students and that you might not know what to expect. We've put together some tips to support you. Employers can see tips for supporting students working remotely.

1) Make sure you have the necessary tools to do your job from home

Check with your employer to make sure you have the proper technology to do your daily work. This will include:

  • appropriate computer hardware
  • appropriate software
  • VPN access to the appropriate shared servers - and how to set this up
  • Setting up and testing teleconference and videoconference tools that your organization is using to stay in touch

In addition, make sure that you have:

  • strong, reliable WiFi – connect with your employer about your WiFi to ensure it will allow your to connect with your team
  • access to appropriate policy or training documents
  • an understanding of your organization's security protocols around accessing/sharing files

Resources to support this:

2) Be clear about your organization's work-from-home expectations

Working from home presents unique challenges. You are likely to be sharing the space with friends or family members and may not have a private office space. Remote work can impact work flow and productivity so be clear about what's expected, including:

  • your regular work hours with your supervisor
  • if and how you should track your hours
  • how your supervisor will communicate with you, including what tools to use (email, teleconference or videoconference tools, phone, etc.) and the expected response rate
  • how productivity may be affected
  • your work goals and deadlines
  • expectations around availability
  • how review and approval process may have been adjusted during this time
  • how you should report on your progress and share information with the team

Resources to support this:

3) Shift into a work-from-home routine

Here are some tips to help you work from home effectively:

  • set up a space in your home where you can create a work from home routine
  • remove distractions, where possible
  • get changed out of your pyjamas and into work clothes to mentally get ready to be at work
  • organize a desk space, even if you’re working at your kitchen table
  • take scheduled coffee and lunch breaks – get some fresh air, connect with friends remotely and make time for yourself
  • connect with your co-workers regularly by email and other means
  • resist the temptation to work beyond set business hours so that you have boundaries between your work day and personal time
  • use project management skills to keep on top of your tasks
  • break big projects into smaller, achievable goals
  • at the end of the day, create a to-do list for the next day of work

Resources to support this:

4) Communicate clearly and regularly with your supervisor

As organizations continue to adapt in response to COVID-19, it's important to keep in touch with your team. Ask your supervisor to share information about:

  • changing protocols, processes and guidelines
  • relevant updates from your organization
  • what is expected of you during this time
  • who you should contact if you have questions or need support

Resources to support this:

5) Stay connected

Working remotely during COVID-19 can be isolating, especially if you live alone. Here are a few ways to stay connected:

  • Ask your supervisor to schedule short daily video conference check-ins. These check-ins can be both social and productive and are a great way to boost morale.
  • Set up daily check-ins with other co-op students working at your organization through video conference or chat
  • Create a Slack channel with fellow students
  • Follow along on updates from other UVic students on the MyUVicLife blog
  • Access online resources

Resources to support this:

Financial support

If you are experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19, here are a few resources that may be helpful:

You can also connect prospective employers with funding to support hiring.

Canada Student Grant for Full-Time Students

The Government of Canada has made this grant available to low and middle-income students who are in school full-time. If you are going to school part-time, see grant for part-time students.

For the 2020 to 2021 school year, you could receive up to $6,000 or up to $750 per month of study. The school year runs from August 1 of the current year to July 31 of the next year. You can receive this grant for each year of your undergraduate studies as long as you are still in school full-time.

See details here.

Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities

For the 2020 to 2021 school year, you could receive $4,000. You can get this grant for each year of your studies as long as you still qualify. The school year runs from August 1 of the current year to July 31 of the next year.

If you qualify, and have an assessed need of $1,400, you will still receive the $4,000 grant. In this case, the grant would cover your assessed need, so you would not need a student loan.

See details & ongoing updates here.

Support for Indigenous students

The Government of Canada is providing financial support to First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation post-secondary students. See details & ongoing updates here.

Additional support from the Government of Canada