Exploring different job avenues during co-op

A photo of Charlie smiling outside. My name is Charlie Jou-ter Woort (they/them), and I am currently in-between my 3B and 4A term. I am an Environment, Resources, and Sustainability student in the co-op program. I chose the University of Waterloo specifically for the co-op program. My mom works at the University of Waterloo in International co-op, so I’ve grown up with the knowledge of the co-op program and its benefits.

Where have you done your co-op terms and what are some main projects you worked on during them? 

I’m lucky to have been matched with jobs that allow me to experience the different paths my degree can take me. My first co-op term was with the Region of Peel as a Waste Technical Analyst in Brampton, ON. I would go into schools and give presentations to classes from kindergarten to Grade 8 about waste and what happens once it leaves the house and enters the local waste process. Mid-way through that term, COVID-19 led to a global shutdown, and I was sent to work from home. Working from home was definitely not for me.

My second co-op term, I worked at Camp Brebeuf in Rockwood, ON. It started as a 4-month work term, but led to an 8-month work term, as I enjoyed it so much that I changed my sequence to stay longer. With Camp Brebeuf, I ran programming that encouraged teamwork and leadership, as well as some environmental programming.

I am now currently on my third and final work term. When I started applying for jobs in Fall 2021, I was determined to avoid working from home, so I only applied to jobs that had in-person components. I applied within and outside of WaterlooWorks - the University’s job platform.

I was given the opportunity to interview for jobs I had applied to in the first round of applications. When it came time to submit rankings, I chose to rank the positions “not interested”, as I had found a potential co-op job outside of WaterlooWorks that was better suited to what I wanted to pursue.

While I did not get that job, it led me to applying for more jobs in the later rounds of the Co-op recruitment cycle, which typically is considered a time when there are fewer jobs and less interesting jobs, which I am grateful for, as it led me to my current position.

I am currently a Health, Safety, and Environmental Specialist Intern at S.C. Johnson and Sons in Brantford, ON and I am having the time of my life.

A photo of Charlie standing outside, with a lot of trees in the background. This photo was taken during Charlie's second co-op term, when they were working at Camp Brebeuf!

 

Here, I help with the implementation of new projects, as well as ensuring that current policies and procedures are up to date and being followed properly.

A photo of Charlie sitting outside on the grass and smiling, with their hand underneath their chin.

Something my mom always encouraged me to do while in co-op was explore different employment avenues that my degree could offer me. There are typically 5 work terms a student completes in my co-op program and my mom always told me not to do the same job twice. Not only can it help you figure out what you want to do with your degree or if your degree is the right one for you, it also looks great on a resume. And if you don’t like it, it’s only for 4 months and you know what’s not a good fit for you. I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity of working in different sectors and getting a feel for each one.

Do you have any advice for students going into co-op?

If I could offer any advice to co-op students, it would be ‘don’t be afraid to pursue opportunities outside of WaterlooWorks’ and ‘don’t stress about getting a job in the first job application round.’ 

 

When I began my co-op journey, I felt so pressured to get a job in the first round, which led to a lot of anxiety. However, there are so many stellar job opportunities posted in later rounds that there isn’t much to worry about. I am so glad I ended up in the later rounds rather than getting matched with a position I didn’t really want to do.

What's next for you?

I’m not completely sure what I want to do after I graduate, if I want to continue my education or head straight into the workforce, but co-op has helped me prepare for either option.

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