Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate: Frequently asked questions

Find answers to questions students have asked 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 we haven't answered? Reach out to your co-op advisor!

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

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.

IS THERE A COST TO PARTICIPATE?

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

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WE ACCELERATE AND FLEXIBLE PATHWAYS?

WE Accelerate is an alternative co-op pathway that qualifies for a flexible work term credit. Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) created WE Accelerate specifically for students who are entering their first work term and face challenges finding their first job.

Flexible pathways represent a set of temporary, term-specific measures put in place to help ALL students find work and maintain their co-op credits. These flexible pathways have been in place since spring 2020 and we’ll continue to assess them on a term-by-term basis.

ARE THERE SPECIFIC LOCATION REQUIREMENTS?

WE Accelerate is a completely virtual program. Students will complete all components of the program virtually. The components include career content, skills development and project experience.

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

There is some additional information international students should consider:

  • Visa students who are located outside Canada for the duration of the program do not require Canadian permits and/or a SIN to participate in WE Accelerate. If you are considering coming to Canada, please connect with the Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants in the Student Success Office for further advice.
  • All streams will include programming with synchronous components. We attempt to schedule these sessions at times that may work best across international time zones.
  • We strongly recommend that you make every attempt to join the live/synchronous virtual sessions. We will record all sessions and make them available in LEARN for asynchronous viewing (across all streams) after the live/synchronous session.

Please note: if you are outside of the Eastern time zone you may need to adjust your schedule throughout the duration of the program and all streams feature synchronous elements you must attend live. Although the program is virtual, we expect students to treat it with the same importance as they would an in-person work term. For example, employers may expect your team to work on projects during a specific time. The project work time may not align with your time zone.

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

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

No, you don't need any specific skills to participate in the WE Accelerate program. We've designed the program for any first work term student to be able to successfully complete the following three components:

  • Career development
  • Skills training
  • Project work experience

To participate in the Manulife Modern Web Application Design stream (when offered), we recommend students have some familiarity with basic coding principles. Knowledge of coding fundamentals will help you to quickly develop your skills and successfully contribute to your industry project.

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

All 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. We'll record all synchronous sessions and make them available for you to access in LEARN to view asynchronously (across all streams).

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, 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.

Opting-in or opting-out

How do I opt-in and indicate my streams of interest?

Each term, we send a message via Waterloo Works to all students who are eligible for WE Accelerate. Check your messages in Waterloo Works to find out when you can sign-up for the program.

To sign up, students must fill out our opt-in form on WaterlooWorks by the opt-in deadline each term. In this form, you'll rank each of the available skill streams to indicate your interests. We'll use this information to assign students to streams on a first-come, first-served basis. Each stream has different enrollment caps based on how many students the industry collaborators 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 the opt-out deadline.

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. Keep in mind, submitting a new form will change your priority sequence (i.e., where you are "in the 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 employment after opting into WE Accelerate until the opt-out deadline of Friday, May 24 for the Spring 2024 term.

If you receive and accept an offer for a job that counts towards co-op credit, you are no longer eligible for WE Accelerate. WE Accelerate is only intended as an alternative for first work term students who are not employed. In this case, you can either submit an opt-out form in WaterlooWorks 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 the opt-out 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 for the spring 2024 term, can choose to opt-out until the deadline of Friday, May 24 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. 

For circumstances where you may be awaiting a potential offer for co-op employment, 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 for the spring term on May 17, the WE Accelerate team will sort students into streams based on preference (first-come, first-served) and enrolment caps. We’ll ensure you know which stream you’re in before the opt-out deadline of Friday, May 24.

What to expect once you're enrolled

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 for this to be marked as "complete." It's important to complete the entire career curriculum 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 for you to receive co-op credit for your WE Accelerate work term.  The project evaluationis  due by August 9, 2024.


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.  

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 complete a permission form and share it with your academic program advisor (or faculty co-op advisor, if you’re in Math) as proof of permission. If you have any questions, please contact wea@uwaterloo.ca

You’ll need to ensure that you can balance any additional course work with the requirements of the WE Accelerate Program (280 hours).

Please note: Taking more than two courses for credit while on a work term is not permitted. PD courses 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 September 25 and the beginning of December, with some variation based on your stream and project.CEE does not expect students to report if 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 24), 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 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.

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

For those of you who decide to take part in WE Accelerate in the winter and spring 2024 term, there is currently no stipend for students who complete the program. The WE Accelerate project team continues to look for sources of funding for students.

In the meantime, 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 awards highlighted above are not equivalent to a typical co-op salary. We created this program 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 for the spring term and if you end up finding a paid co-op job before May 24, 2024 you can always opt-out.   

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


Additional 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 offering the award to add it 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 résumé?

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   
Microsoft - Healthcare Project: Medical Research Assistant

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?

In addition to staff that runs WE Accelerate, we've hired co-op students as team leads in the program. Team leads support each stream and help students through the career curriculum, skill development and project experiences.

In addition to WE Accelerate-specific support, students can 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.