Co-op and career development

Co-operative education (or co-op) allows you to apply what you've learned in class and put it into practice within an actual work setting. Co-op is a great way for you to find out what you enjoy in a workplace and job position before you've even graduated. It's also an excellent way to fund your studies and network full-time positions.

Co-op requirements

To graduate with a Bachelor of Computing and Financial Management (BCFM) degree, you will need to satisfy three requirements for co-op.

Co-op sequence

In CFM, you will automatically be put into a co-op sequence. Your co-op sequence outlines your scheduled study and co-op terms. It is designed to ensure that you can fit in your co-op requirements and limited-term courses.

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
1A 1B WT1 2A WT2 2B WT3 3A WT4 3B WT5 4A WT6 4B
F = Fall term (September - December); W = Winter term (January - April); S = Spring term (May - August);
WT = Work term

It is possible for you to change your co-op sequence but this could delay your graduation up to one calendar year. Before making any changes, you should meet with the CFM Program Manager

How co-op works

The co-op program at UWaterloo will actively involve you in the co-op search process. The skills you'll learn from this experience will prepare you for your future full-time job opportunities - and give you an edge over the competition.

Find out what you can expect in the co-op process.

STEP 1 Prepare a concise and professional résumé (with the help of many co-op supports).
STEP 2 Take your online professional development course - PD 1.

Read job postings on WaterlooWorks, the University's job database system, and apply to positions of interest - make sure to customize your resume for each application.

Co-op Employer Sessions are hosted on campus throughout the term for you to learn about opportunities and network with potential hiring managers. Login to your WaterlooWorks for a calendar of events.

STEP 4 Attend interview(s) with employers that have selected you.Interviews may take place in person at the Tatham Centre (TC) or online. Some travel may be required.
STEP 5 If you’re ranked, rank the interview(s) you had in order of personal preference.   
STEP 6                
  • Arrange your co-op experience with your hiring company (discuss your working hours, salary, dress code, office environment, training dates, etc.)
  • OR continue the application and interview process until you find employment. You need to satisfy at least 3 months of work experience for each of your co-op terms to earn credit.

Important dates and information

Stay informed on important dates surrounding co-op postings and closings and check your University of Waterloo email and WaterlooWorks regularly for messages from Co-operative Education.

Co-op support

  • Resume critique - Seek help with the format, layout and language of your resume to attract top employers.
  • Interview preparation - Practice your interview skills and get feedback on your answers, rate of speech, knowledge of the position, and body language.
  • Finding work - Look for future co-op positions by logging onto your WaterlooWorks. The University has over 6,700 partners with employers looking to hire! Tailor your resumes for any jobs that you find interesting to see if you get selected for an interview. You can also look for work on your own through CareerHub or other job search engines - just make sure to get your position approved.
  • General questions - For all other questions relating to co-op, whether you're looking for a job or have found employment, you can contact an advisor at any time during your studies for support. There are different kinds of advisors to support you depending on where you are in the co-op process.

    • Career Advisor - Career advisors help you understand your interests and skills to help land you your first job. They can also assist you with the co-op process before your first work term.

    • Student Advisor - Once you have completed your first work term, your student advisor is your main point of contact for all questions relating to co-op. Depending on where you are working, you may be assigned to a new student advisor who is more familiar with your job location or company. To find out who your contact is, check the dashboard on your WaterlooWorks

You're also encouraged to login to CareerHub and/or connect with your Program Manager, CFM Mentor, and/or classmates for additional support with the items above.

Professional development

Professional Development (PD) courses will help you to learn or enhance new skills to improve your success in the workplace. These courses will allow you to make connections between your workplace, academics and career.

During your studies, you will you be required to complete five PD courses including Co-op Fundamentals (PD 1) and Processes for Technical Report Writing (PD 11). You can choose your remaining three courses from the PD course catalogue*. Your first course, PD 1, will typically occur in your 1B term (or the winter term of your first year). This will automatically be added to your schedule. Your PD 11 course will be taken during your first work term.

* CFM students are not required to take PD 10 - Professional Responsibility in Computing.

Co-op job opportunities

While searching for a co-op position, consider what you're interested in doing and the kind of place(s) that you want to work. There are a few different positions that you can pursue for your co-op experience.

Industry positions

The most common types of co-op positions that are available at the University are available through corporate industries - companies that offer a production of goods or related services. It's likely that you will find yourself working for one of these kinds of positions during your co-op experience. There are a wide variety of positions and industries that you can apply to for co-op.

Take a look at the most common co-op positions and workplaces where CFM students have worked.

  • Co-op positions - Business Technology Analyst, Data Analyst, Developer, Full Stack Developer, Investment Analyst, QA Analyst, Software Developer, Software Engineer, Technical Systems Analyst, Web Analyst and Web Developer.
  • Companies - Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, CPP Investment Board, DBRS Limited, Deloitte, Facebook, Morgan Stanley, National Bank Financial, NexJ Systems Inc., OMERS, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, RBC Financial Group, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group, and the University of Waterloo.
Enterprise Co-op (E-Co-op)

Work on your entrepreneurial ideas and businesses, while receiving your co-op credit through E-Coop offered by the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business. E-Co-op is open to all students with any type of business concept: technical, social, service, etc. 

If you are interested in growing a business but are still looking to develop your ideas, you can seek mentorship and guidance through Velocity, United College's GreenHouse, Entrepreneurship Society (EntSoc), and the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre. You may also be interested in taking entrepreneurship classes as your electives or pursuing the Minor in Entreprenurship as part of your studies.

Research positions You may find during your studies that you are interested in growing your research skills for future graduate studies or personal interest. You can find these kinds of opportunities either posted through WaterlooWorks or by working alongside a professor through a Undergraduate Research Assistantship (URA). To work as a URA, connect with a professor in any program or discipline at Waterloo to find out more about these opportunities.

Career development

When you're looking for co-op opportunities, you should start to consider the big picture of your future career, once you've established some experience. Start by asking yourself a few questions.

What kind of company do you want to work for?

  • Small, medium or large
  • Start up, office, home-based
  • Established or up-and-coming

What kind of boss do you want?

Detail-oriented, flexible, hands-on/off, business or people-focused, operational or strategic

What kind of environment do you want to work in?

  • Open-concept, cubicle style or office space
  • Team or individually-led work

What kind of hours do you want to work?

  • 7 AM - 3 PM, 9 AM - 5 PM, 10 AM - 6 PM or flexible hours
  • Weekdays, weekends or a combination of both

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

Growth opportunities, promotions and bonuses, secondment opportunities

What kind of benefits do you want?

  • Health - dental, vision care, physiotherapy, massage therapy, drug coverage, life insurance, etc.
  • Retirement - Pension, RRSPs, investments, corporate shares, etc.
  • Employee scholarships - Funds allocated for higher education, designations, temporary leave, etc.
  • Travel - Relocating for work, conferences, etc.
  • Teams or committees - Staff events, sports teams, etc.