Arrange your own job

There are lots of different ways to find a co-op job! You can apply for jobs on the WaterlooWorks Co-op job board and also search for opportunities outside this portal at any time during the co-op employment process. This is what we call "arranging your own job" (AOJ).

Just like when searching for jobs on WaterlooWorks, there are certain guidelines that you must follow in order to receive co-op credit. To be eligible for credit, all AOJs are assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure they meet our standard or flexible work term requirements.

If you receive an offer from an employer outside WaterlooWorks and you think the job meets our requirements, follow the steps below to arrange your own job for co-op credit.

Arrange Own Job requirements

In order to graduate with a co-op designation upon graduation, at least three of your co-op work terms must meet our standard work term criteria, and the rest can be approved under standard OR flexible work term criteria.

Flexible work terms: If you're interested in a co-op work experience that doesn't quite fit our standard work term requirements, a flexible work term might be for you! Flexible work terms allow students to receive co-op credit for a wider range of work experiences (e.g., jobs that fall outside your traditional discipline, underpaid positions, multiple part-time experiences combined into a single work term, etc.).

Remember: All arranged-own jobs are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Requirements may be modified for international AOJs located outside Canada or the U.S. If you have questions about arranging your own job, please contact your co-op advisor.

Requirements Standard work term Flexible work term
Pay You must receive actual remuneration (i.e., some sort of pay) for your co-op work term. Canadian co-op jobs must pay at least the provincial minimum wage. 
Note: There are some exceptions for jobs in specific industries/settings that meet the unpaid/underpaid guidelines.
Must be paid at least minimum wage in the location you are working OR meet our unpaid/underpaid guidelines.
Hours Job must be full-time (35-40 hours per week). You must work at least 420 hours over the span of your work term (should not include extended breaks or time off).

To meet this requirement, you can work one job or combine two part-time jobs.
Work term length Job must be for the full 16-week duration of the work term. However, depending on the circumstances we might approve a work term between 12 and 16 weeks (assessed on a case-by-case basis - contact your co-op advisor). Job(s) must be for the full 16-week duration of the work term or meet the minimum requirement of 420 hours.
Supervisor relation You must not be supervised by a family member (can work for a family business as long as your supervisor is not a family member). You must not be supervised by a family member (can work for a family business as long as your supervisor is not a family member).
Performance evaluations Job must have a supervisor or coordinator to evaluate and submit your performance evaluation (cannot be submitted by a family member or another co-op student). Job(s) must have a supervisor or coordinator to evaluate and submit your performance evaluation. If you have more than one employer, we’ll collect evaluations from both but will record them together.
Relation to your studies and career goals The job should be related to your field as defined by your program of study. First work term students may pursue jobs outside of their program as long as the job will provide transferable skills toward future work terms. You will need to provide a strong rationale for how the job will help you meet your career goals. These will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

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Steps to arrange your own job for co-op credit

Step 1: Update intentions If you know you'll be searching for jobs outside WaterlooWorks, update your intentions to let us know how you'll be looking for jobs. 
Step 2: Search for jobs Apply for jobs outside the Hire Waterloo Co-op job board - you cannot target jobs that are currently posted on this portal. Some other avenues to consider: 

Need help with your search? Connect with your co-op advisor and visit our supports and resources section! 

For advice on how to talk to new employers about co-op at Waterloo, read through our tips below!

Step 3: Submit an Arrange Own Job Form If you've received an offer, submit an Arrange Own Job (AOJ) Form as soon as possible so we can assess whether the job meets our work term requirements.

Note: If you’re returning to a company that you previously worked for as a registered co-op work term, you don't need to complete the AOJ form. Please send a message to your co-op advisor in WaterlooWorks.

To submit an AOJ Form:
  • Visit WaterlooWorks > Submit a form > Arrange own job > Select the appropriate sub-category.
  • Complete and submit the form with as many details as possible (you'll need to know the job title, start and end date, job description, rate of pay, your supervisor's name/department/contact information, etc.).
  • For tips on how to submit forms in WaterlooWorks, visit WaterlooWorks Help.
  • Check your AOJ Form's status and wait for our response.
To cut down on processing time, be sure to fill out your AOJ Form carefully and follow the instructions below:
  • Submit your AOJ Form no later than seven days after the first day of your employment to receive credit for your work term.
  • Students who are participating in a multiple employer flexible work term will need to complete a second arrange own job form for the second employer. The forms will not be considered until both are received.
  • If you've worked for the employer previously as a Waterloo co-op student, contact your co-op advisor as this form may not be required.
  • If the position is located in the U.S. or internationally, review the steps for an arranged-own international job.
  • If the position is unpaid or underpaid and located within Canada or the U.S., you’ll need to provide details of any alternative remuneration/compensation you’ll be receiving to demonstrate how it meets our unpaid/underpaid guidelines.
  • Let the employer know that we’ll be reaching out to them. 

Note: the submission of an AOJ Form does not guarantee credit for employment. The approval process typically takes about seven business days from when we first receive your form, though it can sometimes take a little longer if we need more information or if the employer is hard to reach. 

If you have any questions about work term requirements, please connect with your co-op advisor.

Step 4: Check the status of your form Once submitted, you’ll be able to check the status of your form on WaterlooWorks. You can also check in with your co-op advisor if you have any questions.
Special case:
If your AOJ Form is approved during First Interview Cycle
If your AOJ Form is approved during First Interview Cycle and you have other job applications and interviews in WaterlooWorks, your arranged own job will automatically be added to your ranking form so you can accept it during the rank/match process.

In this case, your status will remain as "UI" (Unemployed: Interview Process) until match day so you can continue to interview and consider the job alongside other potential opportunities.

To add an external offer to your ranking form:

  • Complete the steps above to submit your AOJ Form at least five business days before the ranking deadline.
  • You can add up to one external offer to your ranking form each term.
  • We expect you to attend all scheduled interviews until the rank/match period. Please do not disclose to employers that you have received another offer - all interviews are great networking opportunities! 

If you have questions about adding an external offer to your ranking form, contact your co-op advisor

Tips for talking to employers about hiring a co-op student

When approaching employers outside of WaterlooWorks who may not be familiar with our co-op program, it might help to write targeted cover letters outlining:

  • Your interest in the specific company/position
  • Your relevant accomplishments and how they can be leveraged by the company
  • The benefits of hiring a Waterloo co-op student (visit this link for some ideas!)
  • Any grants, tax credits and funding opportunities that might help the employer cover the cost of hiring you

Co-operative and Experiential Education also has standard letters designed to introduce employers to our co-op program that are available for students to use. Connect with your co-op advisor to request one of our introduction letters tailored for employers in Ontario, employers across Canada and employers located internationally.

For more tips on searching for work both inside and outside of Canada, visit the "Find Work" section of CareerHub or book an appointment with a career advisor

Request an interview space in the Tatham Centre

If you have a scheduled interview for a job you found outside WaterlooWorks, you can still request to use one of the Tatham Centre's interview rooms!

Please note that space in our building is limited, but we will try to accommodate your request based on the volume of interviews/activities taking place on the day of your interview. 

For instructions on how to request an interview space in the Tatham Centre, visit our contact us page.

Protecting yourself from job posting scams 

When searching for jobs both within and outside WaterlooWorks, it's important to think critically and protect yourself from potential job posting scams. A growing trend in this area targets students and new grads seeking employment, both on public job boards and university employment portals. 

Learn more about how to protect yourself from potential job posting scams by accessing the resource below.

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