Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate: A new option for your Spring 2021 work term

co-op students working on project

If this year has taught us anything, it's that being flexible and staying current with in-demand skills has never been more important as industries shift and change. That's why we recently analyzed over 74,000 job descriptions to identify the skills that employers want most - so we can help you develop them! 

This spring term, we're collaborating with industry partners to pilot a NEW work term option for undergraduate co-op students entering their first work term: our Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate program. This optional program will help you develop in-demand skills through content provided by industry partners and team-based project experiences – all while earning a flexible work term credit!

Here’s a look at what you’ll gain from our new WE Accelerate program:

  • Access to high-quality skill development content created by industry partners across six streams.
  • Practice what you’ve learned by working in teams to tackle real-life projects supplied and assessed by industry partners.
  • Networking, coaching and mentorship opportunities with participating industry partners.
  • Built-in career education to help you get the most out of your experience and leverage it in your future job searches.
  • Highly-flexible structure – complete WE Accelerate remotely from wherever you are located.
  • Experience that you can add to your resume and talk about with a wide array of future employers!
  • flexible work term credit to help you stay on track to complete your co-op degree (learn more about standard vs. flexible work term requirements and how many of each you need to graduate).
  • A $1,000 award for completing the program (learn more).

Currently, undergraduate co-op students across all faculties who are seeking their first work term in Spring 2021 and haven't yet found employment are eligible for this optional opportunity. 

You don’t need to be enrolled in a particular program or have a substantial background in the skills above to participate. This is a great opportunity to learn something new and develop the skills that employers want most while still earning a flexible work term credit!


WE Accelerate streams being offered in Spring 2021

Stream Industry partner(s) Enrollment cap Skill development
Human-centered
design
Deloitte 80 • Problem identification
• Creative problem-solving
Microsoft Azure
Artificial Intelligence
Microsoft Flexible • Introduction to AI and its application across industries
• Azure Fundamentals content and certification
• Azure AI Fundamentals content and certification
• Design Thinking
Modern Web
Application Design
Manulife 50 • Web application development
• Front-end and back-end design
• Continuous operation planning for web apps
• Building a microservices backend
Innovation Concept/Velocity 50 • Innovation thinking
• Problem analysis content via the Problem Lab
Digital
Bootcamp
Microsoft,
Vidyard & 
others
Flexible • Website design for desktop and mobile
• Search engine optimization (SEO)
• Online customer relationship management
• Social media, email, and video marketing
• Office productivity software
Brightspace
Training
D2L
(Desire2Learn)
25 Developing course materials
• Building assessments and grading learners
• Communication and engagement

Project component: 
Each stream will also have a project component where students will work in teams of five to practice what they learned by tackling real-life problems and projects provided by industry partners. Each project will take about 120 hours to complete, and industry partners will assess each team's approach to the project using via a Student Performance Evaluation that will show up on your work term record.

Stream highlights

 

Timeline and what to expect

WE Accelerate opt-in/opt-out period 
WE Accelerate Virtual Info Day Thursday, April 15
• Industry partners discuss their streams during our WE Accelerate Virtual Information Day event (watch 3-minute highlights or full recordings of each session).
• Opt-in form will go live in WaterlooWorks following the event.
Deadline to opt-in Wednesday, May 12 at 4:00 PM (EST)
• Deadline to opt-in and indicate your streams of interest.
Streams assigned Sometime between May 7 and May 21
• Streams to be assigned based on preference (first-come, first-served) and enrollment caps.
Deadline to opt-out Friday, May 21 at 9:00 AM (EST)
• After this, we expect you to commit to WE Accelerate as you would any other work term as there are limited spots available.
WE Accelerate work term begins
Career programming (part 1) May 25-31
• Complete onboarding and career curriculum (part 1).
• Approximately 25 hours during this first week, with approximately 10 additional hours of career programming to occur throughout.
• 1 hour of synchronous content daily, with all other content provided asynchronously.

Mandatory synchronous sessions:
• Tuesday, May 25 at 9:00 a.m. (EDT) – Welcome to WE Accelerate
• Wednesday, May 26 at 9:00 a.m. (EDT) – WE Accelerate check-in 
• Thursday, May 27 at 9:00 a.m. (EDT) – WE Accelerate check-in 
• Friday, May 28 at 9:00 a.m. (EDT) – WE Accelerate check-in 
• Monday, May 31 at 9:00 a.m. (EDT) – Onboarding and career recap

Skill development programming Beginning June 1
• Complete skill development content provided by industry partner(s).
• Approximately 100 hours, with varying degrees of synchronous content depending on the stream.
Project experience Throughout July/August (exact timing will depend on the stream/project)
• Complete industry partner projects in teams and receive feedback.
• Industry partners will complete a Project Evaluation Form and assign an overall rating for each project team.
• Students will complete a Team Assessment Form to provide feedback on the overall contributions of their team.
• Approximately 120 hours of project work to be expected across 3-6 weeks (all projects to be completed by August 13). 
Career programming (part 2) The week immediately following the completion of your project experience
• Complete career curriculum (part 2) and final summative reflection.
• Approximately 25 hours. 
• Timing depends on when the project ends (last possible week for completion = August 16-20).

Next steps to sign up

Thank you to all those who attended our WE Accelerate Virtual Information Day event! In case you missed it, recordings of the sessions have now been posted as well as answers to questions that were asked during the sessions.

Now that you’ve had a chance to hear from our industry partners, we invite you to sign-up for WE Accelerate by filling out our opt-in form on WaterlooWorks by Wednesday, May 12 at 4:00 PM (EST). In this form, you’ll indicate your interest in the six skill streams, and we’ll use this information to assign students to streams on a first-come, first-served basis as each stream has different enrolment caps based on how many students each industry partner can accommodate.

Not sure if you want to commit? Even if you choose to opt-in to reserve your spot, you can opt-out of the program if you change your mind any time before Friday, May 21 at 9:00 AM (EST).

Follow the steps below to opt-in by Wednesday, May 12 at 4:00 PM (EST):

  • Login to WaterlooWorks and select the blue “Submit a form” button.
  • Complete the form below:
    • Category: Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate Program
    • Sub-category: Opt-in – WE Accelerate (5026)
  • After completing the opt-in form, you’ll be assigned to a stream on a first-come, first-served basis depending on how you ranked your streams of interest. We’ll let you know which stream you’ve been assigned to sometime after the deadline to opt-in (Wednesday, May 12 at 4:00 PM EST) but before the deadline to opt-out (Friday, May 21 at 9:00 AM EST).
  • Please note: You do NOT need to complete an Arrange Own Job form or search for additional part-time work on top of WE Accelerate - just submitting the opt-in form and completing the components of your assigned stream is enough to get you co-op credit! 

If you change your mind, follow the steps below to opt-out by Friday, May 21 at 9:00 AM (EST): 

  • Login to WaterlooWorks and select the blue “Submit a form” button.
  • Complete the form below:
    • Category: Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate Program
    • Sub-category: Opt-out – WE Accelerate (5027)
  • If we receive your opt-out form by the deadline of Friday, May 21 at 9:00 AM (EST), we'll remove you from the program. 
  • After this deadline, we expect that you will be committed to fulfilling the requirements for your stream to earn your co-op credit. WE Accelerate is a work term credit, so withdrawing from it after the deadline is considered leaving a work term early and may involve consequences. Please contact your co-op advisor for more details. 

Not sure if this program is a fit for you?

Not sure if this program is a fit for you? That's okay - the decision is completely up to you! You may be interested in different types of skills and career paths that are not currently being offered. Do, however, consider how you might be able to leverage the in-demand skills that ARE being offered in a wide variety of future co-op jobs. Careers are so often non-linear, and many people are surprised to hear about the interesting and varied paths that others have taken! Every experience is a stepping stone towards your future - they help you build skills and connections, test out career fields, and are opportunities to learn important lessons about yourself.

Here are some next steps that might be helpful when trying to make a decision:

  • Take a look at job postings that are of interest to you. What skills are they seeking, and how do those skills align with the WE Accelerate streams?
  • Talk to your co-op advisor or others you trust for support and advice.
  • Check out the decision-making resources on CareerHub.

We’ll continue to update this page as things develop. 
Stay tuned to learn more!

In the meantime, if you have questions about WE Accelerate, your eligibility for the program, or would like to submit any ideas for future offerings, please contact your co-op advisor.


Frequently asked questions

Below, you’ll find answers to questions asked by students during our WE Accelerate Virtual Information Day sessions. We’ll add new questions and update answers as the program continues to evolve!

Have a question that isn’t answered? Reach out to your co-op advisor!

FAQs: About WE Accelerate

FAQs: Opting-in or Opting-out

FAQs: What to expect once you're enrolled