Students in the Tatham Centre

Co-op for Future Students

Waterloo hosts the largest co-op program in North America, with connections to over 7,500 employers. As an engineering or architecture student at Waterloo you'll automatically be entered into the co-op program.

Throughout your degree, you'll gain up to two years of real-world experience, build connections in industry and strengthen your professional skills with WATPD-Engineering, an online program that covers topics like communication, report writing, intercultural skills and ethics.

On average, engineering students earn $20-$30 an hour domestically each co-op term, helping to pay for tuition, books and living expenses.

Examples of Engineering Co-op jobs

  • Architectural Assistant
  • Algorithms Engineering Intern
  • Building Science Intern
  • Medical Device Software Developer
  • Research Assistant
  • Hardware Engineering Intern
  • Data Analyst
  • Production Coordinator
  • Quality Control Technician
  • Software Developer
  • Full Stack Web Developer
  • Polymer Engineering Intern
  • Assistant Information Analyst
  • Artificial Intelligence Researcher
  • Wastewater Project Assistant
  • Business Analyst
  • Product Developer
  • User Experience Designer

Waterloo’s Engineering program is highly recognized on an international basis. Combined with Waterloo’s co-op program which gives students access to such an incredible network of amazing companies; it’s the dream package.

Baraa Hamodi, Mechatronics Alumni

Remote video URL

Frequently asked questions about co-op

What are co-op streams?

Co-op work schedules are divided into two "streams", providing you with a unique schedule that alternates between school and work. These streams will determine when you begin your first work term.

Depending on your program, you will be entered in a different co-op stream that will start either 4 or 8 months into your first year, except Architecture which starts 2nd year. There may be some variations to your co-op sequence depending on your program so make sure to find the full information on our co-op stream page.

Stream 4 Programs

(Your first co-op work term will begin in January)

Stream 8 Programs

(Your first co-op work term will begin in May)

Dual Stream Programs

(Programs where students are assigned into either stream 4 or stream 8)

Architectural Engineering

Electrical Engineering

Environmental Engineering

Geological Engineering

Systems Design Engineering

Biomedical Engineering

Civil Engineering

Management Engineering

Nanotechnology Engineering

Software Engineering

Chemical Engineering*

Computer Engineering*

Mechanical Engineering*

Mechatronics Engineering*

*If you have been accepted into Chemical, Computer, Mechanical, or Mechatronics and have a strong preference for a particular stream, you can request your preferred stream online before June 3. We can't guarantee that you will be placed in the stream you prefer, because we must balance the students in each class, but we will make every effort to accommodate your request.

Once streams have been assigned you will be able to find out which stream you are in through the lookup tool.

How will I apply for co-op jobs?

While taking courses during the study term before your first work term, you’ll search for jobs. We’ll help you prepare for the co-op job search process through the Co-op Fundamentals for Engineering course you will have access to in your first study term.

WaterlooWorks is an online site run through Co-operative & Experiential Education (CEE) to help students find their co-op jobs. Students will upload their resume on to WaterlooWorks and from there apply directly to co-op jobs that CEE has pre-approved for co-op credit.

Students can also find their own jobs outside of WaterlooWorks and can apply to have them count for a co-op credit.

How can I prepare for co-op?

There are a couple of things you can do before you start school this fall.

Gain transferable skills. One of the best ways to improve your odds and feel confident going into your first co-op job interviews is to reflect on any related skills you’ve gained through things like past summer jobs or work experiences, volunteering, events you’ve participated in, tutoring you’ve provided or hobbies you’ve focused on.  If you’ve not had the opportunity to do these things, it’s in your best interest to take the initiative this summer and find these types of opportunities.

Draft your résumé. Your resume does not have to be perfect! Once you’re on campus, you’ll have access to a great support system of people and tools to help you prepare for co-op right away. If you’re in a Stream 4 program, the job search and interview process begins in your first month of classes and although you will have access to a resume review appointment, it’s a smart idea to review tips on how to develop a résumé before you arrive.

Do I need engineering experience before co-op?

No, it is not required that you have engineering experience before applying to co-op jobs. In fact, most Engineering students that are applying to their first co-op job do not have engineering specific experience.

Having work or volunteer experience in other sectors (such as retail or food services), can demonstrate to co-op employers that you have transferable skills such as collaboration, time management and responsibility.

How will I be supported when looking for my first co-op job?

In the term before your first co-op work term you will be enrolled into Co-op Fundamentals for Engineering (CFE); an online course that will prepare you for your first co-op experience. CFE will cover:

  • the fundamentals of co-op at Waterloo,
  • how to navigate WaterlooWorks and job search strategies,
  • writing strong résumés and cover letters,
  • gaining the skills needed for successful interviews.

Another component of CFE is having your resume reviewed by trained staff in Engineering to prepare you for your first recruitment term.

The Waterloo Engineering Society (EngSoc) also offers resume help and you can connect with an upper-year student for their insight.

What happens if I have a hard time finding a co-op job?

The co-op application process is competitive. Every job search experience will look a little different depending on your program, interests, goals and work experiences. To help you find a co-op job, you will have a co-op advisor assigned to you. The Centre for Career Development is full of staff dedicated to helping co-op students find jobs, prepare resumes, and improve your interview skills.

There is lots of time to find a co-op job. A standard co-op work term is 12-16 weeks in length, this means that you can continue to job search until 4 weeks into the term to still receive co-op credit.

Another option is Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate, an innovative work term available for first work term co-op students. Through collaborating with industry partners, this optional program will help you develop in-demand skills.

Worst-case scenario, if you are unable to find a co-op job for one term, your graduation will not be delayed. Engineering students need to complete 5 work terms to graduate but have 6 scheduled.

How is co-op different at Waterloo?

Waterloo co-op has access to North America's largest selection of co-op jobs and experiences for university students. With connections to over 7,500 employers.

As a co-op student, you’ll typically alternate between four months in school and four months as a full-time employee when on a work term.

By participating in six work terms (which translates into two years of work experience), you have the opportunity to try various careers within your field and get a better sense of what interests you for your job path after graduating.