The WE Accelerate program, born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, is now a permanent offering aimed at easing underemployment challenges for first-work term students.

Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate has the green light to continue indefinitely! The innovative work-integrated learning program offers students an alternative way to build their skills and prepare for the future of work if they struggle to secure a traditional co-op job in their first work term.

WE Accelerate is a work-readiness program that provides in-demand skills co-developed with industry partners, real work project experience, and career coaching throughout the term. WE Accelerate was funded initially through internal University resources and a government grant in partnership with industry partners such as Deloitte, Desire2Learn, Manulife, Microsoft and with Waterloo’s Velocity program. Waterloo expanded new employer relationships to provide students with interdisciplinary, intercultural team experiential projects.

The WE Accelerate program provides career-readiness programming to students, through peer mentors, focusing on competencies from the Future Ready Talent Framework (FRTF). Together, the skills development, project experience, and career coaching meets the requirements for a flexible work term credit and provides a strong foundation for students to successfully secure their next work term.

The WE Accelerate program was put in place specifically for those students who are seeking their first work term and who were not successful getting that first co-op. With WEA, they get to continue to build in-demand skills and capabilities.

Norah McRae, associate provost, Co-operative and Experiential Education

“The goal is that they will be better prepared to secure a co-op work term the next go round.”

The Co-operative and Experiential Education team, in partnership with campus stakeholders and industry collaborators, has now offered WE Accelerate for over a full calendar year (Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022). Thanks largely to the support of the associate deans of co-operative education in each of the faculties:

  • Lori Case
  • Leeann Ferries
  • Stefan Idziak
  • Christine Moresoli
  • Anindya Sen
  • Johanna Wandel

“Since day one, the associate deans have been extremely supportive in creating this innovative offering that delivers a real differentiator for our students,” says McRae. “We can now offer an alternative to students who are facing unemployment. They can join their co-op cohort for the next round of work experience with similar skills and a sense of confidence.”

To date, the work readiness program has seen almost 1000 students go through the program with 93.8% of them gaining a flexible work term credit. The next offering of WE Accelerate kicks off September 26 with the Microsoft Azure AI and digital bootcamp streams.