Student on a co-op work term in Malaysia
On a co-op work term in Malaysia, at the Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang

Gender Studies students can participate in the Humanities and Fine Arts Co-op, and alternate their studies with paid co-op work terms.

The University of Victoria has an extensive co-op program that lets students gain paid work experience, and about one quarter of UVic students take advantage of this opportunity. Through co-op, students may alternate terms in class with paid work terms in positions related to their field of study. Most co-op work terms are four months long, and students usually complete three or four work terms during their degree. Co-op is collaborative—students, employers and the university all play a part.  You can find more information on the Co-operative Education site.

Gender Studies major Jasmine Nielsen was 2012 Co-op Student of the Year!

Jasmine in her salmon costume

Who knew that dressing up as a salmon would lead to such success?

When gender studies major Jasmine Nielsen arrived at UVic, her resume listed waitressing and a few volunteer jobs under work experience. Four co-op work terms later, Jasmine could add education outreach, emergency preparedness training, office administration, international liaison, event organizing and volunteer coordination. In addition, she had plenty of transferable skills and a lot more self-confidence. And she was 2012's Co-op Student of the Year in the Optional and Professional Programs!

Jasmine says that a gender studies program combines really well with co-op. "Gender studies sets you up really well for co-op jobs. It gives you research and writing skills, and clarity about social justice issues so that you can explain them to others. It's affirming to use skills you've learned in your classes. It helps you recognize your skills and realize that there's a wide range of jobs where they're applicable." Another advantage to combining co-op work terms with study terms is that  students can earn money and gain experience while still maintaining their status and benefits as full-time students.

The Humanites, Fine Arts and Professional Writing Co-op staff helped Jasmine find suitable and interesting placements. She worked with several not-for-profit groups, including the Peru-Canada Mosqoy organization, and for the Emergency Planning Unit of the BC Ministry of Health. Her most challenging job was the last one, as the coordinator of 750 volunteers for the Calgary Globalfest multicultural and fireworks festival.

Jasmine strongly recommends the co-op experience for realizing work preferences and building skills and confidence: "Recognizing the adaptability of my skills has lessened my fears about finding jobs after graduation."

And about that salmon suit: During her first co-op placement, with the marine environmental group Georgia Strait Alliance, Jasmine travelled around Vancouver Island creating educational events for adults and children. She once dressed up as a salmon to work with kids at the Vancouver Island Music Fest: "That costume was hot, stinky and uncomfortable, but I had fun!"