About us

Co-operative education at UVic

UVic provides students with dynamic, hands-on learning opportunities that help them make a vital, positive impact on the world. Co-op plays a major role in the UVic experience—close to 50% of eligible students take part in the program! Our students complete more than 4,145 work terms each year with over 1,360 employers across Canada and around the world. For employers, co-op is a fantastic tool for recruitment—many of our co-op graduates return to work full-time for their former co-op employers upon finishing their degrees.

Co-op at UVic includes all UVic faculties, with students participating in 13 co-op program areas from 51 academic departments and schools. Co-op exists for almost every program, except for those that already offer practica, internships or other work-integrated education. Co-op is mandatory for students in Business, Engineering, Health Information Science, Public Administration, Recreation and Health Education and Coaching Studies and is optional in other areas. UVic is also the largest provider of graduate co-op in Canada—more than 300 UVic graduate students participate in co-op each year at the master's and doctoral level.

All of UVic's co-op degree programs are accredited by Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL). CEWIL’s mission is to foster and advance post-secondary co-operative education and work-integrated learning in Canada.

Career Services at UVic

In Career Services, our team serves students and alumni through one-on-one meetings, online career programs, in-person workshops and a variety of events throughout the year. Our career educators hold over 2,500 meetings with students per year through drop-in hours and appointments, and thousands of students participate in our career events and other offerings. Our online Co-op and Career portal hosts over 14,000 separate active users per year, including students, alumni, employers and community members.

Career Services activities - 2017/18

More than 10,000 students and alumni access career development services, programs and supports each year as they explore their career options and plan their next steps. Career Services is organized by faculty, with a dedicated career educator embedded within the School of Business and the Faculty of Engineering, and three career educators who support students in all other faculties and departments.

UVic’s five career educators provide a range of services to students from every UVic program area. By working with the career educator for their faculty, students and alumni receive coaching on career planning and decision making, connecting their education, experience and skills to employer’s needs. They also learn how to conduct effective work searches and how to prepare effective graduate school applications.

Specific support includes:

  • one-on-one career drop-in sessions and appointments
  • weekly workshops on résumés, interviews and LinkedIn
  • customized career development curriculum for workshops, events and in-class sessions
  • design and delivery of career development curriculum for partners that include including Counselling, Academic Advising, International Student Services, Alumni Services, Graduate Studies, the Learning and Teaching Centre, etc.,  support applying to graduate schools; and targeted networking and career exploration events for specific departments, student groups and more.

Use of Career Services - 2017/18

Service available via faculty-based career educators Number of participants (includes students and alumni)
Career help through scheduled appointments and drop-in appointments 124 (BUSI), 725 (ECS), 1,719 (OPP)
Career-related workshops, presentations and events 1,286 (BUSI), 1,077 (ECS), 5,261 (OPP)

Breakdown of services provided by career educators in Optional and Professional Programs Number of participants (includes students and alumni)
Weekly workshops (e.g., Résumé Lab, Ace Your Interviews, LinkedIn) 284
Targeted workshops for specific student groups (e.g., second-year biology lab students, nursing students). These workshops help student explore career opportunities, identify their skills and plan the next steps on their career paths. 1,355
Targeted presentations (e.g., for graduate students, orientation, specific program areas) 2,236
Career consultations at events (e.g., Résumé Day, “What can you do with your degree” panel events, mock Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs) that prepare students for medical school and health care program interviews) 1,386

Events hosted by Career Services - 2017/18

In 2017/18, career educators facilitated the following campus-wide events:

Event Timing Attendees Description
Career workshops for graduate students Year-round 39 graduate students Two events: Résumé, CV and Cover Letter Foundations for Graduate students, Bridging from Graduate School to a Career
Navigator and Horizons Year-round 22 (Navigator), 38 (Horizons) Self-paced online career programs help students explore career options and look for work
Résumé Day September and January 214 students Résumé clinic
Career Corner at the Career Fair October 120 students met with career educators and 197 accessed resources On-site networking and career support
Success in the Humanities and Fine Arts November 45 students, 9 employers Networking workshop and employer mingle for humanities students

Snapshot of discipline-specific programming - 2017/18

  • Fine arts pop up events were offered by a career educator in the Fine Arts lobby. These events engaged and challenged 100 students as well as faculty and staff, through gamified career-focused activities, to build awareness of their career questions, knowledge, and strengths.
  • 332 teacher education students had in-class professional communication sessions before their practica and in the last semester of their program as they began to apply for post-graduation teaching roles.
  • Two networking events, one for social sciences (30 students) and the other for humanities and fine arts students, this new to 2017/18 initiative targeted at social science students, with 14 employer/alumni mentoring at the events. Plans are already in motion to offer these again.
  • Workshops (for 330) second-year biology lab students supported career exploration, skill identification, and planning of steps for their career paths
  • 273 nursing students attended targeted workshops on topics ranging from resumes, cover letters, interviews, to sustaining a career. 

Snapshot of cross-discipline programming - 2017/18

  • Network Your Way to a Job Event (June):  This annual event coincides with convocation and includes a LinkedIn® session with the opportunity for a free headshot, a networking workshop, then a chance to connect with employers and alumni from a variety of industries. 50 students from a wide range of faculties attended in 2017.
  • Mock MMIs (Multiple Mini Interviews):  Students interested in medical school and health care programs must attend MMIs as part of their application process—these unique mini interviews determine whether or not they get into a program. Career Services coordinates mock versions of the real interview process, where students receive feedback from evaluators (many of whom are health care professionals). 69 students took part in MMIs in 2017.
UVic Co-op and Career develops graduates who achieve personal goals, excel in their chosen fields and contribute to community and society. We guide and support students as they develop competencies—knowledge, skills and attributes—that lead them to successful and rewarding careers.

Andrea Giles is the Acting Executive Director of the Co-operative Education Program and Career Services at the University of Victoria, Canada. Her involvement in co-operative and work-integrated education spans more than twenty-five years and she has been instrumental in the development of UVic's co-operative education program.

Andrea was awarded the the inaugural Co-op Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Co-operative Education BC/Yukon (ACE) in 2018 and has previously received ACE’s Outstanding Contribution Award in 1998 and 2009, as well as the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education’s Service Award in 2000 and 2015.

UVic Co-op and Career has been recognized for its groundbreaking work in the field of work-integrated learning. The office also celebrates student and employer achievement through annual awards.

External awards - programs

  • The British Columbia Council for International Education (BCCIE) recognized Co-op and Career's CANEU-COOP Program with the Outstanding Program in International Education Award for 2016. The CANEU-COOP program uses a unique "twinning" model where UVic students travel to Austria or Germany on a four-month work term where they are paired with European students. Both students often work for the same European employer and the following term they both return to UVic, where the European student attends class. The program goes beyond other simple exchanges with the intentional development of cross-cultural competencies. Students rate themselves before, during and after on knowledge, skills and attributes such as intercultural motivation, intercultural knowledge, strategic thinking and appropriate behaviour.

External awards - students

External awards - staff

Co-op and Career awards

Each year, Co-op and Career recognizes a student from each program area who has made extraordinary contributions to his or her workplace and community. These Co-op Students of the Year receive an award and are honoured at a celebration event.

Co-op and Career also recognizes outstanding employers each year with a Co-op Employer of the Year award.

Staff award

  • Claudia Sperling was the recipient of the Co-op and Career staff award in 2017
  • Joy Poliquin was the recipient of the Co-op and Career staff award in 2016
  • Trish Twiss was the recipient of the inaugural Co-op and Career staff award in 2015

Co-op and Career is connected to many professional associations that promote co-operative education and career development at the post-secondary level.

All of UVic's co-op degree programs are accredited by Co-operative Education and Work Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL). CEWIL's mission is to foster and advance post-secondary work-integrated learning in Canada.

We’re a member of the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE). CACEE’s mission is to provide authoritative information, advice, professional development opportunities and other services to employers, career services professionals and students.

Many of our staff are active with the Association for Co-operative Education (BC and Yukon).

We’re a member of the World Association for Co-operative Education (WACE), an organization that strives to advance work-integrated learning through a global network.

We’re a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which connects more than 5,200 college career professionals and helps forecast trends in the job market.

Director's office

Co-op and Career provides two types of services to UVic students: career development support through Career Services and co-operative education through the Co-operative Education Program. The department as a whole is coordinated by a central Director’s Office. This office includes an executive director, director of operations, information and operations coordinator, events coordinator, communications officer, curriculum coordinator and support staff.

Co-operative Education Program

At UVic, co-op exists for almost every program, except for those that offer practicum, internships or other experiential learning.

UVic Co-op is partially centralized at the university level and partially decentralized in the academic units. Co-op coordinators, placement coordinators and co-op assistants handle the day-to day administration of their individual program areas under the direction of three program managers (one each for Business, Engineering and Computer Science, and Optional and Professional Programs), who all report to the executive director. 

Career Services

Three main Career Services offices provide support to UVic students and alumni:

  • Career Services for engineering and computer science students
  • Career Services for business students
  • Career Services for students from all other programs

A separate Law Careers office in the Faculty of Law provides career support to law students.

Business and engineering students have dedicated Career Services support because co-op is mandatory for their academic programs. Mathematics and statistics students also access Career Services from the Engineering and Computer Science Co-op and Career office.

International team

A team of international Co-op and Career staff support UVic co-op students going abroad for work terms as well as international students seeking career support at UVic.

History of UVic Co-op

In 1975, Dr. Howard Petch left the University of Waterloo to become UVic President and Vice-Chancellor. Dr. Petch brought with him an experimental new program that Waterloo had practiced since 1957: co-operative education. UVic Co-op opened its doors in 1976, pioneering the first co-operative education program in western Canada with 58 placements in its first year. It was initially offered in the Departments of Chemistry and Physics with the support of key players Dr. Alex McAuley, Dr. Harry Dosso and Dr. Graham Branton. “The popularity of the program quickly led to an increase in the number of students in physics,” recalls Dosso, “and an unexpected but welcomed increase in the number of female students.” Dr. Branton became Co-op Director in 1979 and dedicated the next 17 years to advancing the program.

Students and employers raved about co-op and by 1980, the program had expanded to include Computer Science/Mathematics, Creative Writing, Geography, Physical Education and Public Administration. Between 1980 and 1985, Coop began to place 30 per cent of students outside BC and established international exchange programs in the U.K. and Australia. By 1987–88, annual placements neared 1,000 for students in 13 program areas, and UVic had established itself as one of Canada’s forerunners in co-operative education.

Our co-op students have now completed nearly 85,000 work term placements since the program’s inception in 1976.

History of Career Services

Since the late 1960s, UVic housed a federal program called the Canada Employment Centre on campus, but when this program lost funding, the university created the Student Employment Centre (SEC). SEC, which opened in 1991, was the first iteration of Career Services.

For the first two years, SEC was staffed by simply a manager/counselor and a clerk, with some short-term staff and workstudy students. This was augmented in the summer for eight years by student staff hired under federal funding. SEC offered students job search support, summer and career job postings, employer information files, a job search library and on-campus recruitment by school districts, government, companies and other organizations.

In 1993–94, SEC moved to its current location, the Campus Services Building, and developed a target program for recentgraduates. The department hired reception and clerical staff and increased services for employers and students. The unit changed its name to Career Services in 2002 to better reflect its focus on career development.

The Co-op and Career merger

In 2009, UVic’s Co-op Program formally merged with Career Services to form the Co-operative Education Program and Career Services (Co-op and Career). The offices merged to work together in offering work opportunities and comprehensive career development services to all students and alumni.