Matt Paznar (BASc '05) will never forget his first co-op work term. After securing a position at engineering and environmental consulting firm R.J. Burnside & Associates Limited, he arrived in the office just after the Walkerton drinking water E. coli outbreak made news in 2000.
“The provincial government had just put out new regulations back then,” says Matt. “We had to go and assess a good number of water plants for municipalities that we provide service for. That project is what got me hooked on this field, so I just kept coming back.”
Matt continued working at Burnside for all six co-op work terms. He was eventually hired full-time after graduation and today he is one of the vice-presidents. He’s not the only former co-op student who found success at the company – approximately 15 per cent of Burnside’s staff started as co-op students from the University of Waterloo. That includes Matt’s brother, Jeff Paznar (BASc '08), who says Waterloo talent has been a great investment.
“Waterloo’s Engineering programs – particularly Environmental Engineering – teaches students things that are very similar to the work we do here. That, coupled with co-op, produces quality students,” says Jeff. “The co-ops we get from Waterloo haven’t let us down and we’ve had positive feedback from them. From a company perspective, we’re investing beyond four months when we hire co-op. We want these students to come back and work for us after they graduate.”
One such student is Daniel Koetsier, who earned his degree in Environmental Engineering this spring. Daniel was hired immediately after graduation after completing five co-op work terms at Burnside.
Daniel says it was the great mentorship and sense of value that made him so happy to accept the job offer. “I knew I was viewed as an investment and not just a tool for affordable labour,” he says. “I could tell that Matt and Jeff were personally invested in my success. When you challenge co-op students and view them as an investment, you’re going to get a more loyal employee that has experience and knowledge.”
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