We're working with industry collaborators 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!
“WE Accelerate was wonderful. You learned skills, you practiced them and went out to try it out in the real world. That is probably the most crystal clear idea I have had of work-integrated learning.”
Here’s a look at what you’ll gain from our WE Accelerate program:
- Access to high-quality skill development content created by industry collaborators across multiple streams.
- Practice what you’ve learned by working in teams to tackle real-life projects supplied and assessed by industry collaborators.
- Networking, coaching and mentorship opportunities with senior co-op students and participating industry collaborators.
- 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!
- A 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 and haven't yet found employment are eligible for this optional opportunity.
You don’t need to be enrolled in a particular program 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!
|Stream||Industry collaborator(s)||Enrollment cap||Skill development|
|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
• Note: We recommend familiarity with basic coding principles for participants in this stream.
|Brightspace Training||D2L (Desire2Learn)||25||• Developing course materials
• Building assessments and grading learners
• Communication and engagement
|Innovation||Concept / Velocity||50||• Innovation thinking
• Problem analysis content via the Problem Lab
|None||50||• Website design for desktop and mobile
• Search engine optimization (SEO)
• Content, email, and video marketing
• Office productivity software (optional)
Hear directly from our industry collaborators
Watch the recordings of the student and industry collaborator panels from the WE Accelerate Virtual Information day
|WE Accelerate opt-in/opt-out period|
|WE Accelerate Virtual Info Day||Wednesday, April 6
• Industry collaborators discuss their streams and former students discuss their experience during our WE Accelerate Virtual Information Day event.
• Opt-in form will go live in WaterlooWorks following the event.
|Deadline to opt-in||Friday, May 13 at 4:00 PM (EDT)
• Deadline to opt-in and indicate your streams of interest.
|Streams assigned||Monday, May 16
• After registration closes on Friday, May 13 at 4:00 PM (EDT), students will be sorted into streams based on preference (first-come, first-served) and enrollment caps.
• We’ll ensure you know which stream you’re in before the opt-out deadline of Friday, May 20 at 9:00 AM (EDT).
|Deadline to opt-out||Friday, May 20 at 9:00 AM (EDT)
• 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 24 - May 30
• 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.
|Skill development programming||Beginning Tuesday May 31
• Complete skill development content provided by industry collaborator(s).
• Approximately 100 hours, with varying degrees of synchronous content depending on the stream.
|Project experience||June 27 - July 29 (exact timing will depend on the stream/project)
• Complete industry collaborator projects in teams and receive feedback.
• Approximately 120 hours of project work to be expected across 3-5 weeks (all projects to be completed by July 29).
• Please note: the hours to complete your project work will be determined by the project provider, with the expectation you are available.
• Industry collaborators will complete a Project Evaluation Form and assign individual ratings OR an overall rating for each project team (up to the employers discretion).
• Project evaluation form deadline (for employers): Friday, August 5, 2022
|Career programming (part 2)||August 2 - 8
• Complete career curriculum (part 2) and final summative assignment (due August 8).
• Approximately 25 hours.
"I was excited to start my project experience because the skill development portion of WE Accelerate prepared me."
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 will soon be posted on our WE Accelerate webpage. Be sure to check out the FAQ section to address any questions that we didn't have time to answer 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 Friday May 13 at 4:00 PM (EDT). In this form, you’ll indicate your interest in the 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 20 at 9:00 AM (EDT).
- Login to WaterlooWorks and select “Submit a form."
- 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 (Friday, May 13 at 4:00 PM EDT) but before the deadline to opt-out (Friday, May 20 at 9:00 AM EDT).
- 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!
- Login to WaterlooWorks and select “Submit a form.”
- 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 20 at 9:00 AM (EDT), 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.
- 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.
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 a 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 collaborator of your assigned stream.
- Complete ~120 hours of project work by an industry collaborator (working in teams of 5, must receive at least a "marginal performance" on your Project Evaluation).
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 this offering of WE Accelerate this spring term.
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 should have received 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 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.
WE Accelerate is a completely virtual program. All components of the program - the career content, skills development and project experience - will be completed virtually.
It is important to note most collaborators and employers will be working on Eastern time, which may pose challenges for students located internationally. 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).
Although the program is virtual in nature it is important participants treat all components with the same gravity as a traditional work term taking place in person. For instance, like many other jobs, project experience employers may have specific time period they expect their project teams to work, regardless of timezone you will be in.
If you have questions about the University’s location requirements, please reach out to your co-op advisor.
Yes, international students are eligible for WE Accelerate! There is some additional information international students should consider:
- 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.
- You will have access to all synchronous sessions that will be recorded and made available in LEARN for asynchronous viewing (across all streams).
- You will be asked to indicate what region you will be located in via the opt-in form to give us a sense of where students are located. We take this information into consideration when project teams are created, but you may find yourself working with teammates from around the world.
If you have additional questions about whether you are eligible or the University’s 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. For students opting-in to the Modern Web Application Design stream, we recommend familiarity with basic coding principles.
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 email@example.com.
How do I opt-in and indicate my streams of interest?
Eligible students will receive a message via WaterlooWorks after the WE Accelerate Virtual Information Day on Wednesday, April 6 letting them know when they are able to sign-up for the program.
To sign up, students must fill out our opt-in form on WaterlooWorks by Friday, May 13, 2022 at 4:00 PM (EST). In this form, you’ll rank each of the available skill streams to indicate your interests, and we’ll use this information to assign students to streams on a first-come, first-served basis as each stream has different enrollment caps based on how many students the industry collaborator 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 20 at 9:00 AM (EST).
Can I change how I ranked the streams in my opt-in form?
If you want to change how you ranked the streams in your opt-in form, you can submit a NEW opt-in form and we’ll accept your most recent submission as the “official” one to be used when we sort students into streams.
Please note: Even if you submit a new form, we can’t guarantee that you’ll be matched with your top choice. Streams will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis to keep things fair between students, so submitting a new form will change your priority (i.e., where you are “in line”).
Yes, you can continue searching for a co-op work term after opting into WE Accelerate until the opt-out deadline of Friday, May 20 at 9:00 AM (EST).
If you receive and accept an offer for a job that counts for co-op credit, you will no longer be eligible to participate in WE Accelerate as the program is intended as an alternative for first work experience students who are currently unemployed for the Spring 2022 work term. In this case, you can either submit an opt-out form to let us know that you're employed, or we can remove you from the program directly if we see your status change to indicate that you are employed before the opt-out deadline above.
Please note: 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.
Can I choose to opt-out of the program?
Yes! Students who have opted-in can choose to opt-out until the deadline of Friday, May 20 at 9:00 AM (EST) using the opt-out form on WaterlooWorks.
If you’re still enrolled 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.
When and how will students be sorted into streams?
We know you want as much choice as possible within the program. You’ll be able to indicate which stream(s) you’re interested in on the WaterlooWorks opt-in form, but there is no guarantee that you’ll be matched with your top choice(s). Streams will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
After registration closes on Friday, May 13 at 4:00 PM (EST), students will be sorted into streams based on preference (first-come, first-served) and enrollment caps. We’ll ensure you know which stream you’re in before the opt-out deadline of Friday, May 20 at 9:00 AM (EST).
Is there an application/interview process to get into any streams/projects?
Not for the Spring 2022 term. Industry collaborators will provide projects that require skills that teams of students are trained in and interested in developing further; students will be able to indicate preferences for skill course(s) and potentially projects as well.
Where can I find more information about each stream?
For more information about each stream, see the WE Accelerate stream chart above.
For a high-level overview of WE Accelerate timelines, major milestones and what to expect, please see the chart above (may be slight differences, depending on which stream you're enrolled in).
Can I choose to take courses on top of WE Accelerate?
Yes, you can choose to take courses on top of WE Accelerate – though this isn’t required.
Similar to any other co-op work term, students are permitted to take one course (0.5 units) while enrolled in WE Accelerate. If you would like to take two courses (1.0 units), you must have written support from both your academic advisor and Jamieson Cox, the Manager, Strategic Initiatives supporting WE Accelerate.
Of course, you’ll need to ensure that you are able to balance any additional course work with the requirements of the WE Accelerate Program (280 hours). Please consult with your academic program advisor (or faculty co-op advisor, if you’re in Math) for more information specific to your program.
Please note: Taking more than two courses for credit while on a work term is not permitted. WatPD and COOP courses are not included in these limits.
Can I choose to work a part-time job on top of WE Accelerate?
Yes, you can choose to work a part-time job on top of WE Accelerate – though this isn’t required. WE Accelerate on its own is enough to get you a flexible work term credit, so any work you do on top is your choice and won't count towards your co-op credit/show up on your work term history.
If you do end up choosing to work a part-time job on top of WE Accelerate, you’ll need to ensure that you are able to balance a part-time job with the requirements of the WE Accelerate Program. You can expect WE Accelerate to require approximately 25 hours per week between May 24 and the beginning of August, with some variation based on your stream and project. Students are not expected to report to CEE that they are working part-time. Visa students in Canada should understand and adhere to any conditions of part-time employment on their Canadian permits.
Please note: If you have one or more part-time jobs that may meet our flexible work term requirements, you may be able to pursue this option for your co-op credit instead of the WE Accelerate program. Contact your co-op advisor to discuss your options as soon as possible. If you are still enrolled in WE Accelerate after the opt-out deadline (Friday, May 20 at 9:00 AM EST), you are committed to fulfilling the requirements for your stream to earn your co-op credit.
Yes, you are required to take a PD course while enrolled in WE Accelerate. Similar to any other work term, you'll be automatically enrolled in the PD course that aligns with your faculty.
Our PD course teams are aware that some students may be enrolled in WE Accelerate, so if you have questions about how your PD course intersects with WE Accelerate or your PD requirements more generally, please contact your course team.
Work term report
If you have questions about your work term report, please contact your academic program advisor (or faculty co-op advisor, if you’re a Math student).
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 collaborators.
Each stream will vary slightly, but generally speaking the projects will be related to the skills that you're learning within your stream and will take approximately 120 hours for each student to complete. Finally, industry collaborators will assess your approach to the project using via a Student Performance Evaluation that will show up on your work term record.
Just like with any other job, you might not know all of the specific project details up front – but you can rest assured that you’ll be learning the skills required to complete the projects and will have support along the way.
You will receive detailed project information after the WE Accelerate work term begins and you will be able to rank projects of interest alongside your assigned project team members.
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.
$1,000 award for every student who completes WE Accelerate in Spring 2022
Every student who successfully completes the Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate program in Spring 2022 will be given a financial award of $1,000 each.
Please note that this one-time financial award is an added benefit that we’ve been able to secure for students who complete the program in Spring 2022. The award will be added to your Quest student account upon completion of all WE Accelerate components. Once all mandatory WE Accelerate components have been verified, the award will be added to your Quest account in the fall term (may not be in time to be used for next term’s tuition).
Additional awards from industry collaborators and/or project employers
Some individual industry collaborators and/or project employers may decide to provide students with additional awards on top of the $1,000 award that students in ALL streams will receive for completing the mandatory components of WE Accelerate. Please note that this depends on the individual organization and, sometimes, the performance of their students.
For any industry collaborators and/or project employer that do decide to provide additional awards, we’ll work with the organization the award to your Quest account upon completion of WE Accelerate similar to the award above.
For those of you who decide to take part in WE Accelerate, we hope you will see the program as a unique opportunity to invest in yourself, increase your future employability and maintain your work term credits. That said, we know that each student has their own financial needs to take care of, and that the awards highlighted above are not equivalent to a typical co-op salary. This program was created as an alternative for students in light of the challenging hiring climate – so it’s completely up to you whether you would like to take part. If you’re on the fence, consider opting-in and if you end up finding a paid co-op job before Friday, May 20 at 9:00 AM you can always opt-out!
For more information on additional funding opportunities for students, visit the Student Awards and Financial Aid website.
Absolutely! The WE Accelerate term will appear like any other work term on a student’s work term record in WaterlooWorks and on their co-op work history. Once you’ve been assigned to a project, your actual job title may change to reflect this.
Here’s an example of what you’ll see on your co-op work history, once you’ve completed the program:
Beyond what will show on your co-op work history, you can also talk about the skills you learned and practiced on your resume and in interviews with future employers!
Co-op students have been hired as Team Leads to support each stream and help students through the career curriculum, skill development and project experiences.
In addition to WE Accelerate-specific support, students will be able to access traditional co-op supports and resources and can always reach out to their co-op advisor.
Visit the supports and resources section of the co-op website for more information about wellness resources, accessibility resources, financial resources, equity resources and more!
Upon consultation with our academic colleagues, staff who are developing the program and our industry partners, we have decided to continue to offer this program in Fall 2022 as an alternative for students. Some details may look different for this next offering – stay tuned to learn more.