Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate: Fall 2022 work term

Students sitting at a desk talking

We're working with industry collaborators to offer an innovative work term option for undergraduate co-op students entering their first work term: our Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate program. This optional program will help you develop in-demand skills through content provided by industry collaborators and team-based project experiences – all while earning a flexible work term credit!

WE Accelerate was wonderful. You learned skills, you practiced them and went out to try it out in the real world. That is probably the most crystal clear idea I have had of work-integrated learning.

Julian Lucido, Faculty of Math student


How the WE Accelerate program can help:


WE Accelerate streams being offered in Fall 2022 

Stream Industry collaborator(s) Enrollment cap Skill development
Microsoft Azure Artificial Intelligence

 

camera icon Microsoft overview

Microsoft Flexible
  • Introduction to AI and its application across industries
  • Azure Fundamentals content and certification
  • Azure AI Fundamentals content and certification
  • Design Thinking
Digital
Bootcamp
None 50
  • Website design for desktop and mobile
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Content, email, and video marketing
  • Office productivity software (optional)

How WE Accelerate works

Half of a light bulb next to a piece of paper, a block and gears

 Project component

  • Each stream will have a project component where students will work in teams of five to practice what they learned by tackling real-life problems and projects provided by industry collaborators.
  • Each project will take about 120 hours to complete, and industry collaborators will assess your approach to the project using a Project Evaluation Form with an Overall Rating that will show up on your work term record. 
Arrows in a circle

Synchronous time commitment 

  • Each stream will have varying synchronous time commitments. 
  • It is STRONGLY recommended that you attend all live sessions. Some streams may include mandatory sessions or examinations. 
  • Students will need to find time each week to meet with their team lead and work together with their group members to complete several team-based activities. 
  • You’ll learn more about the synchronous commitments associated with your assigned stream before the opt-out deadline.

Timeline and what to expect

WE Accelerate opt-in/opt-out period 
WE Accelerate Virtual Info Day Wednesday, July 27
• Industry collaborators discuss their streams and former students discuss their experience during our WE Accelerate Virtual Information Day event.
• Opt-in form will go live in WaterlooWorks following the event.
Deadline to opt-in Friday, September 16 at 4:00 PM (ET)
• Deadline to opt-in and indicate your streams of interest.
Streams assigned Monday, September 19
• After registration closes on Friday, September 16 at 4:00 PM (ET), students will be sorted into streams based on preference (first-come, first-served) and enrollment caps. 
• We’ll ensure you know which stream you’re in before the opt-out deadline of Friday, September 23 at 9:00 AM (ET).
Deadline to opt-out Friday, September 23 at 9:00 AM (ET)
• After this, we expect you to commit to WE Accelerate as you would any other work term as there are limited spots available.
WE Accelerate work term begins
Career programming (part 1) September 26 - 30
• Complete onboarding and career curriculum (part 1).
• Approximately 25 hours during this first week, with approximately 10 additional hours of career programming to occur throughout.
• 1 hour of synchronous content daily, with all other content provided asynchronously.
Skill development programming Beginning October 3
• Complete skill development content provided by industry collaborator(s).
• Approximately 100 hours, with varying degrees of synchronous content depending on the stream.
Project experience October 31 - December 2 (exact timing will depend on the stream/project)
• Complete industry collaborator projects in teams and receive feedback.
• Approximately 120 hours of project work to be expected across 3-5 weeks (all projects to be completed by Dec. 2).
• Please note: the hours to complete your project work will be determined by the project provider, with the expectation you are available.
• Industry collaborators will complete a Project Evaluation Form and assign individual ratings OR an overall rating for each project team (up to the employers discretion).
Project evaluation form deadline (for employers): Friday, December 9, 2022.
Career programming (part 2) December 5-9
• Complete career curriculum (part 2) and final summative assignment (due December 9).
• Approximately 25 hours.

 


Next steps to sign up

Thank you to all those who attended our WE Accelerate Virtual Information Day event! In case you missed it, recordings of the sessions will soon be posted on our WE Accelerate webpage. Be sure to check out the FAQ section to address any questions that we didn't have time to answer during the sessions.   

Now that you’ve had a chance to hear from our industry partners, we invite you to sign-up for WE Accelerate by filling out our opt-in form on WaterlooWorks by Friday, January 20 at 4:00 PM (ET). In this form, you’ll indicate your interest in the skill streams, and we’ll use this information to assign students to streams on a first-come, first-served basis as each stream has different enrolment caps based on how many students each industry partner can accommodate.

Not sure if you want to commit? Even if you choose to opt-in to reserve your spot, you can opt-out of the program if you change your mind any time before Friday, September 23 at 9:00 AM (ET).

Follow the steps below to opt-in by Friday, September 16 at 4:00 PM (ET):

  • Login to WaterlooWorks and select “Submit a form."
  • Complete the form below:
    • Category: Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate Program
    • Sub-category: Opt-in – WE Accelerate (5026)
  • After completing the opt-in form, you’ll be assigned to a stream on a first-come, first-served basis depending on how you ranked your streams of interest. We’ll let you know which stream you’ve been assigned to sometime after the deadline to opt-in (Friday, September 16 at 4:00 PM ET) but before the deadline to opt-out (Friday, September 23 at 9:00 AM ET).
  • Please note: You do NOT need to complete an Arrange Own Job form or search for additional part-time work on top of WE Accelerate - just submitting the opt-in form and completing the components of your assigned stream is enough to get you co-op credit! 

If you change your mind, follow the steps below to opt-out by Friday, September 23 at 9:00 AM (ET):

  • Complete the form below:
    • Category: Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate Program
    • Sub-category: Opt-out – WE Accelerate (5027)
  • If we receive your opt-out form by the deadline of Friday, September 23 at 9:00 AM (ET), we'll remove you from the program. 
  • After this deadline, we expect that you will be committed to fulfilling the requirements for your stream to earn your co-op credit. WE Accelerate is a work term credit, so withdrawing from it after the deadline is considered leaving a work term early and may involve consequences. Please contact your co-op advisor for more details. 

Frequently asked questions

Below, you’ll find answers to questions asked by students during our WE Accelerate Virtual Information Day sessions. We’ll add new questions and update answers as the program continues to evolve!

Have a question that isn’t answered? Reach out to your co-op advisor!

FAQs: About WE Accelerate

DOES WE ACCELERATE COUNT FOR CO-OP CREDIT? WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS?

Yes, WE Accelerate counts for a co-op credit! Eligible students who participate in WE Accelerate will earn a Flexible Work Term Credit that counts toward their co-op degree designation. WE Accelerate will show up on your co-op work term history just as any other work term would, and you’ll also receive a Student Performance Evaluation at the end of your WE Accelerate experience.

Each WE Accelerate stream involves industry collaborator-led skill development work, project work and career curriculum components that together add up to the ~280 hours required for a Flexible Work Term Credit. This means that you don’t need to search for any additional work on top of what's included in the WE Accelerate stream you are assigned to – just completing the components below are enough!

  • Complete ~60 hours of career curriculum delivered by the Centre for Career Action (two parts, beginning and end).
  • Complete ~100 hours of skill development content and activities provided by the industry collaborator of your assigned stream.
  • Complete ~120 hours of project work by an industry collaborator (working in teams of 5, must receive at least a "marginal performance" on your Project Evaluation).

Your progress in each of these components will be monitored for completion as per the guidelines for assessment below.


Please note: To graduate, undergraduate co-op students must complete a minimum of three standard work terms plus an additional one to three work terms that meet standard or flexible work term criteria depending on your academic program's study/work sequence. Because WE Accelerate counts as a flexible work term credit, please ensure you have enough remaining work terms in your sequence to complete the required three standard work terms. For more information about co-op degree requirements and standard/flexible work terms, visit the co-op roles and responsibilities webpage or reach out to your co-op advisor.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR WE ACCELERATE?

WE Accelerate is open to undergraduate students from all faculties who are going into their first work experience and haven’t yet found employment (WaterlooWorks employment status = UI, US or UO). If you missed your first scheduled work term and are currently looking for your second, you may also be able to take part! However, if you are going into your second work term and only have four work terms in your sequence, you will not be eligible as WE Accelerate counts as a flexible work term credit and you need at least three standard work terms to graduate.

Any student who is eligible for the program should have received an invite to the WE Accelerate Virtual Information Day event, as well as an official invitation to opt-in to the program.

If you end up finding a creditable co-op job at any point before the deadline to opt-out, you will no longer be eligible for the program as WE Accelerate is intended as an alternative to a traditional co-op work term.

Please note: Graduate students, upper-year students, Pharmacy students, GBDA students and EDGE students are not eligible for the WE Accelerate program. If you have questions about your eligibility, please reach out to your co-op advisor.

ARE THERE SPECIFIC LOCATION REQUIREMENTS?

WE Accelerate is a completely virtual program. All components of the program - the career content, skills development and project experience - will be completed virtually.

It is important to note most collaborators and employers will be working on Eastern time, which may pose challenges for students located internationally. Some streams will feature synchronous elements, though we’re attempting to schedule them at times that are workable internationally. You will have access to all synchronous sessions that will be recorded and made available in LEARN for asynchronous viewing (across all streams). 

There is some additional information international students should consider:

  • This program does not require permits and SINs from visa students who are located outside Canada for the duration of the program. If you are considering coming to Canada, please connect with the SSO Immigration Consultants for further advice.

Although the program is virtual in nature it is important participants treat all components with the same gravity as a traditional work term taking place in person. For instance, like many other jobs, project experience employers may have specific time period they expect their project teams to work, regardless of timezone you will be in.

If you have questions about the University’s location requirements, please reach out to your co-op advisor.

WHAT IS THE TIME COMMITMENT AND SYNCHRONOUS/ASYNCHRONOUS LEARNING FORMAT?

The total time commitment for a WE Accelerate work term is approximately 280 hours (roughly 25 hours per week).

The exact breakdown of your time will vary from stream to stream, but generally speaking you can expect the following breakdown of time throughout the term:

  • Approximately 60 hours devoted to career and onboarding content (at the beginning and end)
  • Approximately 100 hours devoted to career and skill development content
  • Approximately 120 hours devoted to the project component

Some streams will feature synchronous elements, though we’re attempting to schedule them at times that are workable internationally. It is STRONGLY recommended that you attend all live sessions. You will have access to all synchronous sessions that will be recorded and made available in LEARN for asynchronous viewing (across all streams).

DO I NEED TO HAVE A TECHNICAL BACKGROUND OR HAVE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS/EXPERIENCE?

Students do not need any specific technical skills in order to participate in the WE Accelerate program. The program is designed for any first work experience student to be able to successfully complete the three program components – career development, skills training, and the project work experience. 

IS THERE A COST TO PARTICIPATE?

There is no additional cost for students to take a WE Accelerate work term beyond the co-op fee that you already pay to support the running of the co-op program throughout the duration of your degree.

WILL I STILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR OSAP IF I DECIDE TO PARTICIPATE IN WE ACCELERATE?

For questions about OSAP eligibility, please contact Student Awards and Financial Aid at safainfo@uwaterloo.ca

FAQs: Opting-in or Opting-out

HOW DO I OPT-IN AND INDICATE MY STREAMS OF INTEREST?

Eligible students will receive a message via WaterlooWorks after the WE Accelerate Virtual Information Day on Wednesday, July 27 letting them know when they are able to sign-up for the program.

To sign up, students must fill out our opt-in form on WaterlooWorks by Friday, September 16, 2022 at 4:00 PM (ET). In this form, you’ll rank each of the available skill streams to indicate your interests, and we’ll use this information to assign students to streams on a first-come, first-served basis as each stream has different enrollment caps based on how many students the industry collaborator can accommodate.   

Not sure if you want to commit? Even if you choose to opt-in to reserve your spot, you can opt-out of the program if you change your mind any time before Friday, September 23 at 9:00 AM (ET). 

CAN I CHANGE HOW I RANKED THE STREAMS IN MY OPT-IN FORM?

If you want to change how you ranked the streams in your opt-in form, you can submit a NEW opt-in form and we’ll accept your most recent submission as the “official” one to be used when we sort students into streams.  

Please note: Even if you submit a new form, we can’t guarantee that you’ll be matched with your top choice. Streams will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis to keep things fair between students, so submitting a new form will change your priority (i.e., where you are “in line”). 

CAN I KEEP SEARCHING FOR JOBS AFTER OPTING IN? WHAT HAPPENS IF I FIND A JOB?

Yes, you can continue searching for a co-op work term after opting into WE Accelerate until the opt-out deadline of Friday, September 23 at 9:00 AM (ET).

If you receive and accept an offer for a job that counts for co-op credit, you will no longer be eligible to participate in WE Accelerate as the program is intended as an alternative for first work experience students who are currently unemployed for the Spring 2022 work term. In this case, you can either submit an opt-out form to let us know that you're employed, or we can remove you from the program directly if we see your status change to indicate that you are employed before the opt-out deadline above.

Please note: After this deadline, we expect that you will be committed to fulfilling the requirements for your stream to earn your co-op credit. WE Accelerate is a work term credit, so withdrawing from it after the deadline is considered leaving a work term early and may involve consequences. Please contact your co-op advisor for more details. 

CAN I CHOOSE TO OPT-OUT OF THE PROGRAM?

Yes! Students who have opted-in can choose to opt-out until the deadline of Friday, September 23 at 9:00 AM (ET) using the opt-out form on WaterlooWorks.

If you’re still enrolled after this deadline, we expect that you will be committed to fulfilling the requirements for your stream to earn your co-op credit. WE Accelerate is a work term credit, so withdrawing from it after the deadline is considered leaving a work term early and may involve consequences. Please contact your co-op advisor for more details. 

WHEN AND HOW WILL STUDENTS BE SORTED INTO STREAMS?

We know you want as much choice as possible within the program. You’ll be able to indicate which stream(s) you’re interested in on the WaterlooWorks opt-in form, but there is no guarantee that you’ll be matched with your top choice(s). Streams will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. 

After registration closes on Friday, May 13 at 4:00 PM (ET), students will be sorted into streams based on preference (first-come, first-served) and enrollment caps. We’ll ensure you know which stream you’re in before the opt-out deadline of Friday, September 23 at 9:00 AM (ET).

FAQs: What to expect once you're enrolled

CAN I CHOOSE TO TAKE COURSES OR WORK A PART-TIME JOB WHILE ENROLLED IN WE ACCELERATE?

Can I choose to take courses on top of WE Accelerate?

Yes, you can choose to take courses on top of WE Accelerate – though this isn’t required.

Similar to any other co-op work term, students are permitted to take one course (0.5 units) while enrolled in WE Accelerate. If you would like to take two courses (1.0 units), you must have written support from both your academic advisor and Jamieson Cox, the Manager, Strategic Initiatives supporting WE Accelerate.  

Of course, you’ll need to ensure that you are able to balance any additional course work with the requirements of the WE Accelerate Program (280 hours). Please consult with your academic program advisor (or faculty co-op advisor, if you’re in Math) for more information specific to your program.

Please note: Taking more than two courses for credit while on a work term is not permitted. WatPD and COOP courses are not included in these limits.


Can I choose to work a part-time job on top of WE Accelerate?

Yes, you can choose to work a part-time job on top of WE Accelerate – though this isn’t required. WE Accelerate on its own is enough to get you a flexible work term credit, so any work you do on top is your choice and won't count towards your co-op credit/show up on your work term history. 

If you do end up choosing to work a part-time job on top of WE Accelerate, you’ll need to ensure that you are able to balance a part-time job with the requirements of the WE Accelerate Program. You can expect WE Accelerate to require approximately 25 hours per week between May 24 and the beginning of August, with some variation based on your stream and project. Students are not expected to report to CEE that they are working part-time. Visa students in Canada should understand and adhere to any conditions of part-time employment on their Canadian permits. 

Please note: If you have one or more part-time jobs that may meet our flexible work term requirements, you may be able to pursue this option for your co-op credit instead of the WE Accelerate program. Contact your co-op advisor to discuss your options as soon as possible. If you are still enrolled in WE Accelerate after the opt-out deadline (Friday, May 20 at 9:00 AM ET), you are committed to fulfilling the requirements for your stream to earn your co-op credit.

DO I HAVE TO TAKE A PD COURSE? WHAT ABOUT WORK TERM REPORTS?

PD course

Yes, you are required to take a PD course while enrolled in WE Accelerate. Similar to any other work term, you'll be automatically enrolled in the PD course that aligns with your faculty.

Our PD course teams are aware that some students may be enrolled in WE Accelerate, so if you have questions about how your PD course intersects with WE Accelerate or your PD requirements more generally, please contact your course team.

Work term report

If you have questions about your work term report, please contact your academic program advisor (or faculty co-op advisor, if you’re a Math student).

WHAT IS INVOLVED FOR THE PROJECT COMPONENT?

Each stream will also have a project component where students will work in teams of five to practice what they learned by tackling real-life problems and projects provided by industry collaborators.

Each stream will vary slightly, but generally speaking the projects will be related to the skills that you're learning within your stream and will take approximately 120 hours for each student to complete. Finally, industry collaborators will assess your approach to the project using via a Student Performance Evaluation that will show up on your work term record.

Just like with any other job, you might not know all of the specific project details up front – but you can rest assured that you’ll be learning the skills required to complete the projects and will have support along the way.

You will receive detailed project information after the WE Accelerate work term begins and you will be able to rank projects of interest alongside your assigned project team members.

HOW WILL MY PROGRESS BE MONITORED/HOW ARE STUDENTS ASSESSED?

Students will be assessed based on three mandatory components that must all be completed for flex work term credit to be granted: 

Career programming assessment
  • Marked as “complete” or “incomplete” for each individual student.  

  • Students must successfully complete the final summative assignment of the career curriculum in order for this to be marked as "complete." It's important to complete the entire career curriculum in order to be successful on the final assignment.   

Skill programming assessment
  • Marked as “complete” or “incomplete” for each individual student.  

  • Assessment structure will depend on stream (e.g., some streams may involve a single summative certification/exam or several smaller certifications).    

Project evaluation
  • At the end of each WE Accelerate project experience, project supervisors will complete a project evaluation form to evaluate the performance of their assigned student team(s) with respect to output, quality standards, delivery of goals and assignments. 

  • Industry collaborators will complete a Project Evaluation Form and assign individual ratings OR an overall rating for each project team (e.g., outstanding, excellent, very good, good, satisfactory, marginal, unsatisfactory).  

  • The overall performance rating the student receives, either individual OR as a team, will appear on your work term history going forward.  

  • Please note: An overall performance rating of “Marginal” or higher is required in order for you to receive co-op credit for your WE Accelerate work term.  The project evaluation is due by December 9, 2022. 

Once all the above components have been completed, the Overall Performance Rating received by your project experience team will be added to your Work Term History in WaterlooWorks. 

If you have any questions about how students will be evaluated, please reach out to your co-op advisor.  

WILL STUDENTS RECEIVE AN AWARD/STIPEND/SOME FORM OF COMPENSATION?

The Fall 2022 WE Accelerate offering is currently not a paid work term experience. For those of you who decide to take part in WE Accelerate, we hope you will see the program as a unique opportunity to invest in yourself, increase your future employability and maintain your work term credits. That said, we know that each student has their own financial needs to take care of, and that the experiences highlighted above are not equivalent to a typical co-op salary.

This program was created as an alternative for students in light of the challenging hiring climate – so it’s completely up to you whether you would like to take part. If you’re on the fence, consider opting-in and if you end up finding a paid co-op job before Friday, September 23 at 9:00 AM you can always opt-out!   

For more information on additional funding opportunities for students, visit the  Student Awards and Financial Aid  website.

Awards from industry collaborators and/or project employers  

Some individual industry collaborators and/or project employers may decide to provide students with awards. Please note that this depends on the individual organization and, sometimes, the performance of their students.  

For any industry collaborators and/or project employer that do decide to provide additional awards, we’ll work with the organization the award to your Quest account upon completion of WE Accelerate (may not be in time to be used for next term's tuition).  

WILL FUTURE EMPLOYERS SEE THAT I'VE COMPLETED WE ACCELERATE? CAN I PUT IT ON MY RESUME?

Absolutely! The WE Accelerate term will appear like any other work term on a student’s work term record in WaterlooWorks and on their co-op work history. Once you’ve been assigned to a project, your actual job title may change to reflect this.

Here’s an example of what you’ll see on your co-op work history, once you’ve completed the program: 

Employer: Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate Program 
Division: “<Industry Collaborator>” “<Skill course name>”  
Job: Project Title 

For example:

Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate Program
Microsoft – Azure & Artificial Intelligence Fundamentals   
Project Title 

Beyond what will show on your co-op work history, you can also talk about the skills you learned and practiced on your resume and in interviews with future employers! 

WHAT SUPPORTS ARE AVAILABLE FOR STUDENTS TO ACCESS ONCE ENROLLED?

Co-op students have been hired as Team Leads to support each stream and help students through the career curriculum, skill development and project experiences.

In addition to WE Accelerate-specific support, students will be able to access traditional co-op supports and resources and can always reach out to their co-op advisor.

Visit the supports and resources section of the co-op website for more information about wellness resources, accessibility resources, financial resources, equity resources and more!