WE Accelerate students turn a hopeful outcome into a rousing reality

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

By: Matthew King (he/him)

It can be challenging enough to be a first work term student looking for a co-op job without adding a global pandemic to the equation. Yet, in 2021, that is exactly what Aseel Osman (she/her) and many students like her faced.

Osman chose to enroll in the pilot offering of Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate for her first work term. And now, a year later, the decision is paying dividends. The Engineering student used her experience in WE Accelerate’s Digital Bootcamp stream to secure a position as a growth marketing intern at Sleek.

“I remember when I got the interview, they were saying, ‘Oh, wow, we really didn’t think an engineering student would apply to this job.’ However, when they saw my resume, they were happy with all the experience that I ended up getting from WE Accelerate,” said Osman.

The WE Accelerate program is available to co-op students from all six faculties who are not able to secure a job in their first work term. The program focuses on developing in-demand skills that student can leverage to work in a variety of future co-op positions.

Aseel Osman, University of Waterloo co-op student and WE Accelerate participant
Aseel Osman (she/her)
Nanotechnology engineering co-op student

 

“When I was looking into WE Accelerate, I vividly remember reading that they went through a bunch of job descriptions and found that these were the certain skills that employers were looking for the most. In my case the skills I was able to put on my resume from WE Accelerate were exactly what my employer was looking for,” said Osman.

Shaili Kadakia, University of Waterloo co-op student and WE Accelerate participant
Shaili Kadakia (she/her)
Computer science co-op student

Fellow WE Accelerate pilot participant, Shaili Kadakia (she/her) went without a successful co-op match in her first work term but had a very different experience this time around.

“When it came time to apply for jobs, I could more confidently say I meet most of these requirements and I feel like I have a good shot of getting that job,” said Kadakia. “I think that's what sets apart the difference from last time and is why I have a job this time. Not to mention I was offered a job in the first round, which I would not have dreamed of in my first work term.”

Kadakia is currently completing her co-op work term as a Software QA Test Engineer at Plooto. Given the skills she could now boast on her resume, she felt confident applying for the position.

“If it weren't for WE Accelerate, I don't know if the co-op experience would have been as smooth as it was this time around," said Kadakia. “I think the main thing employers are looking for when they're hiring students, and really anyone, is experience. Building a project with five other students and then working in a small company as part of WE Accelerate, I think that really helped me stand out and it gave me what I was missing.”

These are the results Norah McRae, Associate Provost, Co-operative and Experiential Education, had envisioned when this program was conceived.

“The outcome we are looking for here is that when these students go for their next co-op work term, they’ve got that experience and those extra skills under their belt, and that they are more successful when they’re seeking their next work term. We hope their employment path through co-op is easier as a result of having engaged in this program.”

- Norah McRae, Associate Provost, Co-operative and Experiential Education

The Winter 2022 term is the third iteration of the WE Accelerate program and will continue to be offered to first work term students until at least the Fall 2022 term.

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