Co-op during COVID-19

A lot has changed over the past few months, 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, most job interviews will be conducted by video conference or through other remote setups.

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

Over the summer term, UVic Co-op implemented some short-term policies to help students and employers continue to participate in co-op during this initial period of response to COVID-19.

For fall 2020 work terms (work terms taking place from September to December 2020), co-op work term requirements will revert to 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 for fall 2020, 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. If you're experiencing financial hardship, you can also learn about available support below, and connect prospective employers with funding to support hiring.

Access our online resources on landing a job

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

Prepare to interview remotely

Some employers are shifting to remote interviewing rather than in-person interviewing. Interviewing over video conference or phone can feel different than interviewing in person, but the principles are the same. Here are a few tips to make it simple:

  1. Treat webcam interviews as a combination of a telephone and in-person interview. As in a phone interview, you can have some notes in front of you, but should avoid referring to them too often.
  2. Ask permission: When looking to call someone using a webcam tool like Skype, iChat or Facetime, it’s polite to ask for permission before calling. Your contact might be on the telephone, in a public place or otherwise not in a position to take your webcam call. Try instant messaging before making the call - a short text like “Is this still a good time for our call?” will only take a few seconds and will avoid catching your contact off guard. It’s also a good idea to know whether your contact expects to see you on webcam, or whether he or she expects a voice-only call.
  3. Prepare your space: To prepare your space, find a quiet spot with bare walls behind you, set up the webcam/monitor so it is eye-level, and make sure you’re captured well on the screen. Avoid being surrounded by clutter and don’t plan to multitask during the call - your full attention should be on the interview. Log on about 15 minutes early.
  4. Create a professional profile: When you connect via web conferencing program, the interviewer may be able to see certain profile information about you by default. Be aware what your status, location, and other profile details are saying and ensure they are appropriate and accurate when using this type of tool for business.
  5. Test the technology: You may also wish to practice an interview to get the hang of looking and speaking to the lens and microphone instead of to the screen image of the interviewer(s). Test out the quality of your microphone and make sure that your voice is clear for the person on the other end. If possible, invest in an external microphone and headphones. Ensure there won’t be other demands on your internet connection at the same time. If you have access to an Ethernet connection, it is usually better than wireless.

Financial support

Many students are experiencing unexpected financial hardship because of COVID-19. Here are a few resources that may be helpful:

Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)

The Government of Canada has launched the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) to provide supoprt to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or Employment Insurance.

This benefit will provide between $1,250 and $1,750 per month depending on whether students or graduates have dependents. This benefit will be available from May to August 2020.

See details here.

Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG)

The Government of Canada's Canada Student Service Grant (CCSG) will help students and new graduates gain valuable work experience and skills while they help their communities during COVID-19.

Post-secondary students and recent graduates may be eligible for between $1,000 and $5,000 to be used towards post-secondary education costs through the Canada Student Service Grant, if they volunteer with registered charities, non-profits and non-governmental organizations.

Apply for this funding.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides a taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks for up to 16 weeks for eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19. 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

Tips for working remotely

Many organizations are shifting to remote work arrangements in response to COVID-19, including setting up student employees 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) Re-prioritize projects based on what can be done remotely

If you're shifting suddenly to a remote work setup, connect with your supervisor to review your current task list and identify what projects can be done remotely.

Adjust projects that can't be done remotely. This could be an opportunity to tackle a research project, to compile training documents, to take advantage of online training opportunities, or to tackle other projects that have been lower on the priority list.

This might also mean re-evaluating your organization's expectations about what can been done in a certain period - deadlines might need to shift with this new work setup.

4) Shift into a work-from-home routine

Working out of your home can be challenging, especially if you’re working alongside friends or family members. Here are some tips to help you work from home effectively:

  • set up a space in your home where you can shift into ‘work mode’, and then close it down at the end of the day
  • 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:

5) 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:

6) 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: