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Arrange your own job

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You can arrange your own job for co-op credit. You can search solely for opportunities on your own OR you can search for opportunities on your own as well as search for jobs using WaterlooWorks. Please review these items before you start

The job you arrange must meet all the work- term requirements in order to be eligible for co-op credit. If you have questions, check the AOJ FAQ page and if you still have questions contact your advisor through WaterlooWorks.  

Although the University of Waterloo pursues a strategy where all co-op students are fully paid, there are situations where students are unpaid (or paid less than minimum wage) and if these jobs meet the Unpaid/underpaid guidelines they are approved for credit on a case-by-case basis. 

Before you start

Before you start your arranged own job search, there a few items to consider.

  • You may not target Co-operative Education contacts at organizations that actively recruit through our employment process. 
  • If you want to search for a job without combining your search with WaterlooWorks, please update your job search intentions through WaterlooWorks to US (Unemployed: Student Arranged). 
  • If you want to combine your arranged own job search with a job search using WaterlooWorks, make sure you understand the regulations and procedures around the process. Until you are matched with a job through the process, you are committed to all interviews granted. You must speak to your student advisor (or career advisor if you’ve not yet had a work term) to withdraw from any interviews. 

Search resources

  • Work search resources in the Centre for Career Action's CareerHub (login required)
  • Search for industry associations
  • Letter of introduction
  • Financial incentives for employers to hire you

Use letters of introduction:

We recommend that you write targeted cover letters outlining your relevant accomplishments and show the employer that you understand how you could benefit them. 

In those letters, you may wish to include a statement such as:

Hiring a co-op student can save you money directly. You can find out more about the Co-op Tax Credit and funding programs for employers within Ontario and Canada at Hire Waterloo.


[Note: Do not use the above statement if applying to employers outside of Canada.]

More importantly, hiring a co-op student can bring immediate value to your workplace.  The University of Waterloo runs the largest co-operative education program in the world and takes the professional development of its students seriously.  All co-op students complete mandatory professional development courses to help them adapt to new workplaces and begin contributing away.  Students are also evaluated by their co-op supervisors, and their rankings are visible to future employers.

Co-op Education will, upon request, provide you with an electronic letter of introduction that you may use to accompany your job search documents.

The letter of introduction provides prospective employers (not already actively recruiting Waterloo co-op students) with a brief synopsis of co-operative education at Waterloo.

If you would like to use a letter of introduction, drop in to see a career advisor (pre-first work term student) or request a letter from your student advisor.

Financial incentives for employers to hire you

  • When searching for your own job, use these benefits of hiring a Waterloo student and the cost savings to help convince the employer to hire you.
  • A key financial benefit to Ontario-based companies who hire a Co-op student is the Co-operative Education Tax Credit (CETC).
  • Ontario-based companies are eligible to claim the Co-operative Education Tax Credit (CETC) which provides them with a 25-30 per cent cost savings (claimed as a tax credit), up to $3000 per work term per student hired. 
  • See more information about funding support
  • University of Waterloo faculty have the opportunity to take advantage of the Undergraduate Research Internship Program to hire you as a full-time co-op or regular student.

Note: Organizations not eligible for the Co-operative Education Tax Credit (CETC) are government (all levels) and other not-for-profit organizations.

Work-term requirements

The job must meet all the standard or the flexible work- term requirements in order to be eligible for co-op credit. At least three of a student’s co-op work terms must meet standard work-term requirements. The remaining work terms can meet either standard or flexible work- term requirements. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that they meet these requirements. After reviewing the requirements below, if you have questions, check the AOJ FAQ page and if you still have a question contact your advisor through WaterlooWorks

These requirements may be modified for a non-USA international job. Please refer to working abroad pages for more information. 

First work-term experience jobs will be considered eligible even if they aren’t directly related to your field of study. 


Standard work-term requirements are:

1. Must be paid

  • You must receive actual pay for your co-op work term.
  • You must receive at least minimum wage in the location where you are working. 
  • In all other situations, if you are concerned about salary, please refer to the credit worthiness of unpaid co-op jobs and contact your advisor.

2. Must be full time

  • The job must be full time which means 35-40 hours per week of employment.

3. Work term length must be 16 weeks

  • The job length must be for the full 16 week length of the work term.  However, in rare circumstances (e.g., in cases where you start the job late due to difficulty in finding employment), the job length can be reduced to no less than 12 weeks. 
  • Proposed work terms under 16 weeks are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

4. Supervisor must not be related to you

  • You may not work under the direct supervision of a family member (you can work for a family business as long as your supervisor is not a family member).

5. Performance evaluation

  • Have a supervisor or coordinator to evaluate and submit student performance evaluation

6. Must be related to your field of study  

  • The job should be related to your field defined by your program of study. 
  • Credit worthiness is determined by whether the job meets a minimum number of industry-based attributes. For example, Engineering defines these attributes as per the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) guidelines and says students must meet four of the attributes. For more information, please view the accreditation criteria for Engineering co-op jobs (PDF).
  • Contact your advisor in Co-operative Education if you are unsure if the job opportunity would be related to your field of study.

Flexible work-term requirements: 

1. Provide a rationale

  • Students provide a rationale for how the work term meets their specific goals.

2. Must be paid

  • Must be fully paid OR
  • The job must meet the unpaid/ underpaid guidelines in order to be considered for alternative remuneration 

3. Work-term length must be 420 hours

  • Work term length must be a minimum of 420 hours of work (within a 16 week timeframe)
  • Should not include any extended breaks or periods off

4. Single or two different employers

  • Work for a single employer or combine experiences with two different employers

5. Performance evaluation

  • Have a supervisor or coordinator to evaluate and submit student performance evaluation

Approval process for arranging your own job

  • Before submitting the AOJ (Arranged Own Job) form, if you have questions about the content and/or applicability of the job contact your advisor.
  • Submit your arranged own job to your advisor using the AOJ Form in WaterlooWorks. 
  • Your advisor will provide a decision as to whether or not the job is appropriate for official credit.
  • If your job is accepted by your advisor, your status on WaterlooWorks will be changed to UA (Unemployed-Awaiting Decision) pending receipt and job verification with the employer.
  • When Co-operative Education has been able to verify the employment with your employer, your status will be changed to "Employed" and your employment information recorded in your profile on WaterlooWorks. Note that if your AOJ form is received during the interview period and you have job applications or interviews through WaterlooWorks, your arranged own job will be added to your ranking form for the match process. Students in this situation will have UI status until after the match. 

Add your job to the ranking form

  • If external offers are received during the first interview cycle, they can be added to your ranking form as part of the main match process. Submit the job immediately to your advisor using an Arrange own Job (AOJ) form as this process is time sensitive. Also send your advisor a message to let them know that you would like to add an offer to your ranking form. Requests must be submitted at least 5 days prior to ranking deadline. You will be notified via message once the job is approved for co-op, and added to your ranking form.