If the COVID-19 pandemic 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!
We're collaborating with industry partners to offer an innovative 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 collaborators and team-based project experiences – all while earning a flexible work term credit!
How WE Accelerate program can help:
- Build the skills employers are looking for.
- Apply new skills to real world projects.
- Learn from content created by industry experts.
- Leverage your experience in future job searches through career education.
- Participate remotely from any location.
- Earn a flexible work term credit (learn more about standard vs. flexible work term requirements).
"This was my chance to gain the skills and experience employers are looking for and there are no prerequisites needed so I was able to start from zero."
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!
Yes, WE Accelerate counts for a co-op credit! Eligible students who participate in WE Accelerate will earn a Flexible Work Term Credit that counts toward their co-op degree designation. WE Accelerate will show up on your co-op work term history just as any other work term would, and you’ll also receive an Overall Rating on your Student Performance Evaluation at the end of your WE Accelerate experience.
Each WE Accelerate stream involves industry collaborator-led skill development work, project work and career curriculum components that together add up to the ~280 hours required for a Flexible Work Term Credit. This means that you don’t need to search for any additional work on top of what's included in the WE Accelerate stream you are assigned to – just completing the components below are enough!
- Complete ~60 hours of career curriculum delivered by the Centre for Career Action (two parts, beginning and end).
- Complete ~100 hours of skill development content and activities provided by the industry partner of your assigned stream.
- Complete ~120 hours of project work by an industry partner (working in teams of 5, must receive at least a "marginal performance" on your Project Evaluation and complete a Team Assessment form at the end of your project experience).
Your progress in each of these components will be monitored for completion as per the guidelines for assessment below.
Please note: To graduate, undergraduate co-op students must complete a minimum of three standard work terms plus an additional one to three work terms that meet standard or flexible work term criteria. This depends on your academic program’s study/work sequence. For more information about Flexible Work Terms, visit the co-op roles and responsibilities webpage or reach out to your co-op advisor.
Graduate students, Pharmacy students and EDGE students are not eligible for the current offering of the WE Accelerate program.
What's the difference between WE Accelerate and flexible pathways?
WE Accelerate is an alternative co-op pathway that qualifies for a Flexible Work Term Credit. This program was created specifically for students who are entering their first work term, in recognition of the challenges of finding a first work term.
On the other hand, our flexible pathways represent a set of temporary, term-specific measures put in place to help ALL students find work and maintain their co-op credits in light of COVID-19. These have been in place since Spring 2020 and will continue to be assessed on a term-by-term basis as the situation around the pandemic continues to evolve.
TL;DR: WE Accelerate is a separate program.
Who is eligible for WE Accelerate?
WE Accelerate is open to undergraduate students from all faculties who are going into their first work experience and haven’t yet found employment (WaterlooWorks employment status = UI, US or UO). If you missed your first scheduled work term and are currently looking for your second, you may also be able to take part!
Any student who is eligible for the program will receive an invite to the WE Accelerate Virtual Information Day event, as well as an official invitation to opt-in to the program.
If you end up finding a creditable co-op job at any point before the deadline to opt-out, you will no longer be eligible for the program as WE Accelerate is intended as an alternative to a traditional co-op work term.
Please note: Graduate students, upper-year students, Pharmacy students, GBDA and EDGE students are not eligible for the WE Accelerate program. If you have questions about your eligibility, please reach out to your co-op advisor.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has imposed some travel/location requirements that students must adhere to. This means that you can complete WE Accelerate virtually from within Canada or virtually from your home location/location of citizenship, if you’re an international visa student (status at UWaterloo is “student permit”).
Additional information for international students:
- This program does not require permits and SINs from visa students who are located outside Canada for the duration of the program. If you are considering coming to Canada, please connect with the SSO Immigration Consultants for further advice.
- You will receive career/onboarding programming and some streams will feature synchronous elements, though we’re attempting to schedule them at times that are workable internationally.
- Each stream will have varying sychronous time commitments. It is STRONGLY recommended that you attend all live sessions.You will have access to all synchronous sessions that will be recorded and made available in LEARN for asynchronous viewing (across all streams).
If you have questions about the University’s travel/location requirements, please reach out to your co-op advisor.
What is the time commitment and synchronous/asynchronous learning format?
The total time commitment for a WE Accelerate work term is approximately 280 hours (roughly 25 hours per week).
The exact breakdown of your time will vary from stream to stream, but generally speaking you can expect the following breakdown of time throughout the term:
- Approximately 60 hours devoted to career and onboarding content (at the beginning and end)
- Approximately 100 hours devoted to career and skill development content
- Approximately 120 hours devoted to the project component
Some streams will feature synchronous elements, though we’re attempting to schedule them at times that are workable internationally. You will have access to all synchronous sessions that will be recorded and made available in LEARN for asynchronous viewing (across all streams).
Do I need to have a technical background or have any specific skills/experience?
Students do not need any specific technical skills in order to participate in the WE Accelerate program. The program is designed for any first work experience student to be able to successfully complete the three program components – career development, skills training, and the project work experience. We recommend familiarity with basic coding principles for participants in the Modern Web Application Design stream. Knowledge of coding fundamentals will help you develop your skills more quickly and successfully contribute to your industry project.
Is there a cost to participate?
There is no additional cost for students to take a WE Accelerate work term beyond the co-op fee that you already pay to support the running of the co-op program throughout the duration of your degree.
Will I still be eligible for OSAP if I decide to participate in WE Accelerate?
For questions about OSAP eligibility, please contact Student Awards and Financial Aid at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will WE Accelerate be offered in future terms?
WE Accelerate will be an ongoing offering as a first work term option for students. Eligible students will be sent more term specific information during their recruitment cycle.
Students will be assessed based on three mandatory components that must all be completed for flex work term credit to be granted:
|Career programming assessment||
|Skill programming assessment||
Once all the above components have been completed, the Overall Performance Rating received by your project experience team will be added to your Work Term History in WaterlooWorks.
If you have any questions about how students will be evaluated, please reach out to your co-op advisor.