Future-proof students

two people talking in an office setting

Through our work-integrated learning approach in partnership with our faculties, we equip and empower learners to successfully navigate the ever-changing and complex world of work.

Whether enrolled in co-op, EDGE, a Waterloo Professional Development (WatPD) course, Centre for Career Development programming or an employer information session, Waterloo students are continuously readying themselves to embrace the future world of work. As we evolve, other forms of work-integrated learning may emerge as relevant adaptations to a changing world.


  • Commit to becoming a world-leader in co-op student experience
  • Embed the Future Ready Talent Framework into our processes, practices, assessments and reflections across every student touchpoint
  • Support all of our students’ wellness and access to opportunities through enhanced and innovative career programming and staff training to build up equity-informed skills and practices
  • Activate, engage and leverage our alumni networks, industry and community partnerships to vigorously pursue student opportunities
  • Expand WIL opportunities so that every student at Waterloo can engage in WIL experiences that are flexible and diverse
  • Enhance ways of assessing and recognizing skill development during WIL experiences
  • Expand co-op and potentially other types of WIL programs for graduate students
  • Develop a professional development curriculum for mid-stream co-op, WIL and career professionals

Goal: Future-proof students

Through co-operative education and other forms of work-integrated learning, Waterloo students engage in both academic learning and work experiences in repeated cycles of work and school. Throughout the student’s undergraduate journey, we provide them with low-risk opportunities to experience a variety of work environments, a range of sectors and fields, and a diversity of roles and types of work. These programs have a well-known impact on students’ and graduates’ preparedness to be adaptable and pragmatic as they encounter change and new opportunities.

This impact goes beyond well beyond employability. Though our student and graduate employment outcomes do tell an important story, the less tangible but equally important investments we make in our learners is to support them in developing the practices of mindfulness and self-awareness needed to guide strategic career decisions, set lifelong learning goals and clarify over time their career identity and sense of purpose. Our ecosystem is designed to help them identify:

  • what they’re good at,
  • what they value and need from their work/life, and
  • what kinds of challenges they want to tackle in how they impact the world.

Waterloo has programs to support all learners, at any stage of a lifelong-learning journey. Our programs are designed to build resilience and adaptability. We help learners acknowledge what they’re good at and what kinds of challenges they want to solve, all within a supportive environment.

How do we know what skills are essential?

We developed the Future Ready Talent Framework through conducting extensive research into existing frameworks, studies and reports, and validated our findings with our network of employers, students and fellow educators.

venDiagram of values

Co-op is more than just a job.

Anojan Gunasekaran (B.A.SC. ’19) associate product manager, Shopify

I think that my co-op placement is helpful for my future. I am learning important skills in my workplace, both personal and professional. I also think that co-op placements are helpful for me as I can further narrow down what I would and would not like to do in my future.

Juliana Z., History, Faculty of Arts

Im hoping that with the encouragement from EDGE to go apply myself to other work, Ill be able to find something I enjoy. Im using EDGE to guide me into what Ill be doing in the future... Ill definitely be using these transferable skills Ive learned.

Anna L., Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Science

The job shadowing experience was carefully thought out and designed to help us get the most out of the experience. We were given tips, best practices and encouraged to reflect on our experience. Participating in this program gave me knowledge and skills on how to approach a job shadowing experience and on how to navigate a professional setting.

Anonymous PhD candidate