Co-op Employers of the Year

We're proud of our incredible partnerships with employers in Victoria, across Canada and around the world. Each year, we nominate outstanding co-op employers who have gone above and beyond to support co-op student learning. 

Our Employers of the Year receive an award and are honoured at our annual Employer Appreciation Reception.

2020; PCL Construction, Oak and Orca Bioregional School, Western Digital Thailand, Trailmark Systems

All of us faced extraordinary challenges in 2020, including a pandemic that swept the globe. Throughout it all, co-op employers continued to provide UVic students with meaningful work, support, mentorship and invaluable experience. Each year, we recognize employers who have provided extraordinary learning opportunities to UVic co-op students.

The 2020 Employers of the Year are:

  • More than 50 employees: PCL Construction
  • Fewer than 50 employees: Oak and Orca Bioregional School
  • International Employer of the Year: Western Digital Thailand
  • New Co-op Employer of the Year: Trailmark Systems

PCL Construction

PCL Construction is a shining example of mentorship within the co-op program. They know that a co-op position isn’t just a job—it’s an opportunity.

PCL staff make a point to check in with co-op students to make sure their work is engaging, and that they’re meeting their goals and developing their professional competencies. The work students do at PCL is applicable, relevant and meaningful. “PCL helped me to apply my classroom learning to interesting, complex projects where I could see theoretical concepts become real,” one co-op student says.

PCL Construction

Engineering co-op student Sim Grewal (left) conducts a 3D scan at PCL Construction

As another students puts it, “Because the tasks were meaningful and the expectations were high, when I learned what to do and began to contribute meaningful work, I felt so much more confident in myself and the work I was able to produce.”

This year, PCL’s support of co-op students was particularly apparent in their response to COVID-19. They provided students with short-term contract work to tide them over until delayed co-op terms began and quickly switched students from on-site to remote work. The work they provided gave students safety and financial security in difficult times.

PCL has been dedicated to supporting co-op students since they hired their first UVic student in 2004. In the last three years, they have hired 87 UVic students for a total of 123 co-op placements. Over half these students were on their first co-op term, showing that PCL is dedicated to giving students their first break and supporting them every step of the way. They also support co-op programs across Canada—in 2020, they hired over 440 students across all disciplines.

Oak and Orca Bioregional School

The co-op experience at Oak and Orca Bioregional School emphasizes student voices, mentorship and community. The school’s core mission is to empower children to create fundamental social change towards more fulfilling and ecologically sustainable communities. Co-op students with Oak and Orca receive training and mentorship in curriculum development and design, with an emphasis on bioregional philosophies, freedom of student expression and choice, and Indigenous knowledge and perspectives.

Oak and Orca Bioregional School

UVic engineering co-op student Aila Simpson focuses on building out various activities for a new high school course Oak and Orca will be offering.

From day one, co-op students are encouraged to seek help, support and guidance from all staff members in the school. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, co-op supervisor and UVic alumna Eva Boucek made sure that there was a dedicated COVID-safe work area so students could spend part of their week working at the school, making them feel more connected.

Co-op students with Oak and Orca find that they’re able to create their own roles and follow their own interests. They are given the opportunity to experience many different roles within the school and education system, including assisting teachers, writing subject-specific activities and curriculum, and hosting workshops. Even students who do not plan to follow a career in education have found the work valuable and inspiring.

One co-op student says, “The Oak and Orca team is a group of passionate, kind, and inspiring people who support you every step of the way. My supervisors and fellow co-op students are always open to giving feedback, discussing ideas and answering questions.”

Impressively, Oak and Orca increased their hiring substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite funding challenges and other difficulties brought on by the pandemic, Oak and Orca accessed grant funding which enabled them to triple the amount of co-op students they usually hire per work term over the last year.

Oak and Orca knows the importance of supporting co-op students and building a community for them. Students are allowed the freedom to cultivate their own experience while also being encouraged to ask for help and support when needed. “The people who work there are the kindest people you will ever meet,” one co-op student says. Oak and Orca shows that the co-op experience isn’t just about the work and learning outcomes—it’s about community.

Western Digital Thailand

Western Digital Thailand manufactures data storage solutions and makes a vital impact on students who are on international co-op work terms. They provide co-op students with international work experience, strong support from their employer and help adjusting to a new culture.

Western Digital Thailand

UVic co-op students Damon Hunka (left) and Genevieve Simmons (second from right) consult with other co-op students at Western Digital Thailand.

Western Digital Thailand offers positions to students in technical and non-technical fields. In technical positions, students are assigned a specific project that is tailored to their specific interests and expertise. Students in non-technical positions work in human resources. These positions are also tailored to the student—some work in recruitment, where they deliver orientation programs and intercultural training to new interns and local staff, while others work in community engagement.

Western Digital Thailand makes a vital impact not only on international students, but also within their own community. They don’t just offer work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities to students outside of Thailand—they create opportunities for Thai students, too. The company often participates in exchange programs, creating co-op placements for students from other countries and sending Thai students abroad for international WIL opportunities.

“I often thought that a career in the field of business was destined to be competitive and cut‐throat,” one student said. “But Western Digital Thailand has taught me that working for a large public company can be wholesome and fulfilling.” Part of this is due to the care Western Digital Thailand takes to look after co-op students. Each student is mentored throughout their whole work term, the mentors offering everything from professional guidance to advice on Thai culture. Despite the language barriers, students often comment how their peers are their “cultural guides” on Thai culture and Thai business etiquette.

Perhaps there is no better example of how Western Digital Thailand cares for co-op students than the experience of one student in 2019. When they fell gravely ill and had to be admitted to hospital, the Vice President of the company, Dr. Sampan Silapanad, personally met the student’s family when they arrived in Thailand to be with their son and offered his phone number to them so he could be the local support. He also personally contributed to the family’s Go Fund Me campaign to help cover medical and other costs.

Western Digital Thailand is exemplary of how co-op positions are much more than jobs. They’re opportunities for students to learn and grow. Western Digital Thailand’s dedication to work-integrated learning across the globe shows their passion for helping students find their way.

Trailmark Systems

Trailmark Systems is a cultural and environmental consulting firm that works with Indigenous traditional knowledge and scientific understanding. With them, co-op students work directly with First Nations, resource management boards, government departments and commercial collaborators. Though Trailmark Systems hasn’t been working with UVic co-op for very long, they’ve already hired students across a range of disciplines. Some co-op students have gone on to take permanent positions with them.

The Trailmark Systems team is small and diverse, and they value the fresh and unique perspectives co-op students bring. Co-op students are encouraged to interact frequently with senior staff, participate in brainstorming sessions and make decisions.

Students are trained to use the company’s internal systems, software platform and various other tools. They work on consultancy projects and software development. Trailmark Systems also works closely with students and UVic to define learning objectives and support students to achieve meaningful goals during their time with the company.

One co-op student remarked on the support he received, even from the head developer, who is located in Germany. Distance and seniority do not keep Trailmark Systems team members from connecting with and supporting co-op students.

The company-wide values of kindness, understanding and flexibility shine in Trailmark Systems’ dedication to the co-op program. Several team members were co-op students themselves, and their personal experience carries over to current co-op students. Co-op students have as much to share as they do to learn, and their perspectives and experience are valued greatly in Trailmark Systems.

2019: Benevity, RebalanceMD

Each year, UVic co-operative education (co-op) students complete more than 4,250 co-op work terms in Victoria, across Canada and around the world. The dynamic, hands-on learning that students gain through these experiences is often transformative thanks to the mentorship and opportunity provided by our 1,350 partner employers.

Many employers go above and beyond to support students’ professional experiences—each year, we recognize employers who have provided extraordinary learning opportunities to UVic co-op students. The 2019 recipients for UVic Co-op Employers of the Year are:

  • More than 50 employees: RebalanceMD
  • New company (hiring co-op students for five years and under): Benevity


2019 Employer of the Year – More than 50 employees

At RebalanceMD, dynamic immersive learning is a key ingredient for success. The patient-centric, musculoskeletal care centre brings together physicians, kinesiologists, physical therapists, pedorthists and orthopaedic surgeons under one roof to simplify and enrich the patient experience. For co-op students, this means connecting with a diverse group of health professionals and gaining a multidisciplinary understanding of patient care.

Ronak Sheiki (kinesiology) is currently working with staff at Rebalance during her clinical kinesiology co-op work term. Credit: ReBalanceMD.

Ronak Sheiki (kinesiology) is currently working with staff at Rebalance during her clinical kinesiology co-op work term. Credit: RebalanceMD.

RebalanceMD is a rare employer—clinical placements in recreation and kinesiology positions are often unpaid, but the company is committed to nurturing the next generation of health professionals and has hired 21 co-op students into paid positions for the past 7 years. It has also welcomed students from diverse academic backgrounds, ranging from kinesiology and recreation and health education to visual arts, commerce and English. Each year, Rebalance MD also hosts over 60 medical students and residents for their orthopaedic and family practice placements through UVic and UBC.

Students regularly provide glowing feedback about their time at RebalanceMD and the opportunity to work directly with clients and diverse practitioners. This holistic approach, combined with mentorship and career development support, gives students the chance to think critically and deepen their knowledge of musculoskeletal issues and rehabilitation techniques.

RebalanceMD has established itself as an employer of choice for UVic co-op students as well as alumni, many of whom return to the company for their first professional career position after graduation.

Harrison Kettyls (Kinesiology ’19, right) and Ronak Sheiki (kinesiology) work with a patient.

Harrison Kettyls (Kinesiology ’19, right) is a physiotherapist with RebalanceMD, and is also a former co-op student. Ronak Sheiki (a current co-op student kinesiology) watches as Harrison works with a patient. Credit: RebalanceMD.


2019 Employer of the Year – New company (hiring co-op students for five years and less)

As the global leader in corporate social responsibility and employee engagement software, Benevity is an employer to watch. The Canadian company develops programs and technology that help businesses incorporate online giving and community investment initiatives into their operations. Last year alone, this led to their clients processing nearly $3 billion in online charitable donations and more than 17 million hours of volunteer time facilitated through 200,000 charities worldwide.

This passion for giving back extends into Benevity’s own workplace culture—a focus that makes the company a sought-after co-op employer for UVic students. Since hiring its first UVic co-op student in 2017, Benevity has welcomed 10 software engineering and computer science students onto the team, and counting.

Students are trusted to manage projects that matter, contributing their skills to software development and design while benefiting from extraordinary mentorship support. Benevity believes in the power of positivity and assigns each co-op student a “Benevi-buddy” from a different department as a way to enrich students’ understanding of the company structure. Students also connect regularly with senior-level staff who provide guidance about career development within the industry, and are encouraged to access online courses to supplement their learning.

Benevity’s approach to mentorship is a recipe for success—students regularly return for a second work term or find full-time career opportunities with the company.

Beyond hiring co-op students, Benevity also regularly participates in the UVic Hi-Tech Fair, hosts regular on-campus information sessions for students, and participates in mock interview clinics for engineering students who are preparing to apply for their first co-op positions.

2018: Babcock Canada, ImmunoPrecise Antibodies Ltd., LlamaZOO

Dynamic hands-on learning is a pillar of the UVic experience—through our co-op program alone, students work for more than 1,360 co-op employers each year, putting their studies into practice across diverse sectors.

Each year, we recognize employers who have provided extraordinary hands-on learning opportunities to UVic co-op students. The 2018 Employers of the Year are:

Babcock Canada

2018 Employer of the Year – More than 50 employees

At Babcock, co-op work terms are so much more than a job placement—they’re a key recruitment tool. One of the engineering solution company’s mandates is to ensure that tomorrow’s talent is ready to make a difference, and they are committed to fostering students’ education. This approach is lauded by students, who often describe their experiences at Babcock as transformative and life changing.

Since 2015, Babcock has hired 58 engineering and commerce co-op students from UVic, 13 of whom returned for a second term and four for a third—a testament to the extraordinary experience Babcock provides. Co-op students are typically supervised by a former co-op student to enhance the mentorship experience, and are encouraged to network across departments and meet with senior staff to better understand the business. The company is currently developing a program that will allow co-op students to complete a series of work terms, each in a different department, as a way to help students transition into a full-time role.

Babcock is a strong supporter of UVic Co-op and Career beyond co-op placements; the company participates in UVic’s mock interview clinics, exhibits at the Hi-Tech Fair and was a platinum sponsor of UVic’s Human Powered Submarine Team in 2018, helping the team showcase their project at the 2018 Mari-Tech Conference.

 Two former Babcock co-op students were part of the Human Powered Submarine Team who won 3 trophies in the European International Submarine Races in 2018. The team is also sponsored by Babcock.

Photo: Two former Babcock co-op students were part of the Human Powered Submarine Team who won 3 trophies in the European International Submarine Races in 2018. The team is also sponsored by Babcock.

ImmunoPrecise Antibodies

2018 Employer of the Year – Fewer than 50 employees

ImmunoPrecise Antibodies (IPA) has made it a habit to hire the best and brightest, a feat made possible by its long-standing status as a co-op employer. The custom antibody business has hired UVic biochemistry, microbiology and business students to complete 66 co-op work terms, and in the past 3 years alone has hired 8 co-op alumni, 5 of whom are current employees.

Most full-time IPA scientists and staff are UVic graduates; as a result, lab experiences build off the skills that students develop in their biochemistry and microbiology courses, and students are typically provided with a co-op project that relates directly to their area of academic interest.

Co-op students receive extensive training and certification and are included in company meetings. They also give progress reports at weekly lab meetings that are attended by all IPA scientists, an experience that helps students strengthen their analytical and critical thinking skills Overwhelmingly, co-op students report their time at IPA provides them with a practical application of theoretical knowledge and a rewarding mentorship experience.

IPA is a dedicated UVic partner; staff and scientists regularly share their experiences through UVic’s “What can you do with your degree” series, take part in mock interview clinics and networking events, and collaborate on UVic research research projects, including a recent Engage Grant.

Colin Bruce worked as a co-op student at IPA in 2016; he continues to work part-time for the company.

Photo: Colin Bruce worked as a co-op student at IPA in 2016; he continues to work part-time for the company.


2018 Employer of the Year – New company (hiring co-op students for 5 years or less)

Since launching in 2014, local 3D visualization company LlamaZOO has made co-op a priority. After hiring their first co-op student in 2015, LlamaZOO has hired computer science, software engineering and business students, and each student has reported an equally positive experience.

Co-op students are treated as significant members of the team and are assigned meaningful projects, from writing white papers on digital twinning technology to researching and writing new software features for augmented reality and virtual reality technologies, to helping draft the company’s vision statement. They’re also encouraged to access online training resources to diversity their skill sets, and have access to mentorship from the company’s diverse group of employees.

Within this fast-paced environment, students often comment on LlamaZOO’s welcoming and playful environment; their ability to balance hard work with having fun has made the company a co-op student favourite. It’s also led LlamaZOO to be recognized—the company is a partner in Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster as well as Microsoft Mixed Reality and IGM, connecting students with world-class opportunities from downtown Victoria.

Beyond hiring co-op students, LlamaZOO also participates in UVic’s Co-op and Career Networking Night and Tech Connect events and are always looking for passionate talent to join their team. LlamaZOO staff have also participated in guest lectures and panel discussions through the Faculty of Engineering and the School of Business.

 Engineering co-op student Kevin Virtue, Office Manager Charlotte Garcia, and business co-op student Anna Mazza, get to grips with innovative augmented and virtual reality technology at LlamaZOO.

L-R: Engineering co-op student Kevin Virtue, Office Manager Charlotte Garcia, and business co-op student Anna Mazza, get to grips with innovative augmented and virtual reality technology at LlamaZOO.

2017: BCI, Kiewit, Method Engineering, RevenueWire

At UVic, we’re proud of our strong partnerships with employer organizations of all sizes and across diverse sectors—bringing students’ skills and enthusiasm to employers seeking fresh talent.

Each year, we recognize employers who have gone above and beyond in offering fantastic learning opportunities to UVic co-op students. At the end of 2017, we honoured organizations across three categories as our Employers of the Year:


2017 Employer of the Year – More than 50 employees (tie)

BCI is an avid supporter of co-operative education, offering a truly rich learning experience to the many co-op students taken under their wing—50 per cent of whom come from UVic. Since 2012, they’ve hired 55 UVic co-op students, studying everything from business, to economics, engineering, computer science and math. They’ve worked in a range of areas, such as positions related to bcIMC’s investments, corporate finance, consulting and client services and much more.

BCI is committed to making co-op students feel welcome, and helping them maximize their learning. They provide valuable, real-life experiences where students can make a real impact on day-to-day initiatives. Students network and learn from world-class investment and business professionals, and they get an up-close look at how one of the largest institutional investors in the country operates. The corporation believes in the quality of work students deliver, and matches their skills to challenges and opportunities that allow them to grow.

BCI is also a strong supporter of UVic Co-op and Career initiatives and has participated in career fairs, mock interview clinics, employer panels, networking sessions and many other events on campus. They also offer a course through UVic Continuing Studies on applied investing.


2017 Employer of the Year – More than 50 employees (tie)

UVic co-op students have a long history of giving glowing reviews about their work experiences at Kiewit. The engineering and construction company has hired 157 UVic engineering and business co-op students over the past 10 years and has recruited many alumni as permanent employees.

Kiewit places great trust in students, empowers them to take increasing levels of responsibility and supports them in a welcoming team environment, which features a mentorship program that partners each student with an engineering supervisor specializing in a relevant field. Kiewit believes in fostering diverse skillsets and teach students all aspects of the engineering process, including how to create work plans, what’s involved in field engineering and how to supervise construction teams.

The company is also committed to students’ ongoing professional development and offers weekly lunch-and-learns, technical and online training, a leadership seminar series for female employees, university partners and students, and funding for continuing education. Kiewit has also been a regular exhibitor at UVic Hi-Tech Co-op and Career Fair, offers advice to students at employer information sessions and mock interview clinics and has supported the growth of UVic’s Civil Engineering Program.


2017 Employer of the Year – Fewer than 50 employees

RevenueWire has been a strong supporter of UVic talent since 2009. As a rapidly growing e-commerce technology company (so rapidly, in fact that it currently has 54 full-time employees), RevenueWire has hired 30 students for co-op positions ranging from marketing to merchant support to quality assurance—and recruited eight into permanent full-time roles after graduation.

The company has also strived to connect with UVic students through many co-op and career-related activities, including conferences, career fairs, mock interview clinics and other events. RevenueWire offers students excellent in-house skill growth, career growth opportunities and industry exposure. Staff welcome co-op students into a rich mentorship culture that encourages growth and development, accommodates their learning interests and treats them as true members of the team—recognizing every new member of the team as a potential future employee. Our students have thrived through their experiences at RevenueWire and returned to their academics with greater self-confidence, technical skills and professional competencies.

Method Engineering

2017 Employer of the Year – New company (hiring co-op students for two years and under)

Method Engineering understands the benefits of investing in co-op—they’ve already hired six UVic civil engineering students and are eager to bring more on board each semester. The company’s co-op positions offer students exposure to the world of engineering consulting from the perspective of a small local firm. Students gain first-hand experience in what it’s like to manage a building project from concept to completion, with special attention to quality assurance.

As a small company, Method Engineering gives students the room to develop problem-solving skills while providing a personal level of mentorship and guidance.

As a former co-op student himself, firm owner and principal engineer Matt Mulleray understands students’ challenges and is committed to giving back. He participated in a recent classroom employer panel and has offered personal résumé and cover letter feedback to every applicant for the co-op jobs posted by his firm.

2016: HES PV and Parks Canada

In 2016, two extraordinary organizations were recognized as Co-op Employers of the Year for their outstanding student mentorship: Parks Canada and HES PV.

“We are so thankful to HES PV and to Parks Canada for the mentorship and incredible learning that they have provided 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.

HES PV – 2016 Co-op Employer of the Year (fewer than 50 employees)

With less than a dozen regular staff, HES PV’s hiring record is impressive. The Victoria-based 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.

Parks Canada – 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.”

2015: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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!

How are employers nominated for this award?

Co-op coordinators nominate employers for Employer of the Year in late fall each year (usually around the end of November - application deadlines will emailed to staff each year).

  • Coordinators are invited to nominate ONE top employer (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 by the deadline.

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)