First year co-op

Waterloo hosts the largest co-op program on the planet, with connections to over 6,900 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 résumé writing, networking and more. On average, engineering students earn $8,400-$19,200 domestically per co-op term, helping to pay for tuition, books and living expenses.

Common questions about engineering co-op

Visit our FAQ page to get your more specific questions answered.

What co-op stream will I be in?

After picking your program, you are probably wondering what co-op stream you will be in. 

All Waterloo Engineering programs are co-op programs, which means you start learning what you need to know and applying it in a real work setting right away. 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.

Architectural, Electrical, Environmental, Geological, and Systems Design - are stream 4. Your first co-op work term will begin in January.

Biomedical, Civil, Management, Nanotechnology, and Software - are stream 8. Your first co-op work term will begin in May.

Chemical, Computer, Mechanical, and Mechatronics - you are assigned to stream 4 or stream 8 in  June. If you have a strong preference for a particular stream, you can request your preferred stream online before the admission confirmation deadline at the start of June. 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?

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 have found for students at Waterloo.

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

What can I do to prepare for co-op?

Can I apply for an 8-month co-op job?

No, students are encouraged to stay on sequence as much as possible in first year and an 8-month job would mean having 2 off terms before returning to your sequence, and delaying graduation by a year. Most programs have an 8-month co-op built into their sequence in upper years.

Common questions about WatPD

As part of your degree requirements, you'll complete a series of professional development courses during your work terms, aiming to enrich your experience and help you become a more effective engineer. These self-directed courses are called WatPD courses and will help you expand your skills and knowledge, using everyday situations from your work term environment. For more information, visit: WatPD Engineering

This section focuses on questions specific to WatPD-Engineering; if you're looking for information about WatPD in general or the program's operation, visit the larger FAQ page on the WatPD website. You're also welcome to contact a representative of WatPD or WatPD-Engineering with your questions.

Why do Engineering students need to develop their professional skills?

Professional skills are a crucial component of workplace success, even in fields and disciplines defined by a high degree of technical acumen. You may need coding and calculus skills to be considered for positions, but your ability to communicate, work in teams, and reflect on your performance is what will set you apart from your peers for the rest of your career.

It’s easy to find articles, studies, and surveys that assert the value of professional skills. A 2013 survey by the Business Council of Canada (formerly the Canadian Council of Chief Executives) found that relationship skills, communication, problem solving, and leadership are all top priorities when executives evaluate potential entry-level hires. When LinkedIn talked to Canadian hiring managers for their 2016 Soft Skills Report, 61% felt like the lack of soft skills among candidates limits their organizations’ productivity. New reports and research mirroring these results are published on a regular basis.

There’s also plenty of evidence that these conclusions hold true for Waterloo Engineering students. When graduating students were asked about the skills and attributes they wished they had when looking for a permanent job, nearly half of students responded that they wanted better professional skills. And when Engineering co-op employers were asked about the importance of soft skills, a large majority said that such skills are “more important” or “just as important” as technical skills.

If you’re interested in reviewing more data about the importance of professional skills or want to learn more about the sources mentioned above, please contact us.

How is WatPD-Engineering different from the WatPD program completed by other faculties?

Engineering students take different core PD courses than students in other faculties, but take the same elective courses. Instead of participating in the WatPD program, Engineering students complete the WatPD-Engineering program, a subset of the Faculty of Engineering with its own Academic Director and Curriculum Committee. WatPD runs the WatPD-Engineering program on behalf of the faculty.

While many aspects of the programs overlap, the core courses that make up WatPD-Engineering are specific to Engineering students.

How many PD courses do I need to take to complete my PD requirements?

Engineering students need to complete five PD courses, all of which are completed during their work terms. For more information about the specific courses you’ll need to take, visit the program information page.

Do I have to take PD courses in a certain order?

Engineering students who started studying during the Fall 2020 term or later complete PD19: Tactics for Workplace Success and PD20: Engineering Workplace Skills I: Developing Reasoned Conclusions as their two compulsory courses. Engineering students who started studying before the Fall 2020 term complete PD20 and PD21: Engineering Workplace Skills II: Developing Effective Plans.

Once they’ve completed these courses, students can choose an elective course to take each work term until their PD requirements have been fulfilled. Some Engineering programs have special requirements with respect to PD courses. If you're unsure about the PD course requirements associated with your program, please consult the undergraduate calendar or contact your academic advisor for more information.

How do I register for PD courses?

If you’re following your program’s sequencing as outlined in its section of the undergraduate calendar, you should be automatically enrolled in your first two PD courses the first time you take said courses. Engineering students will be enrolled in PD19 and PD20 during their first and second work terms, respectively.

Once you complete your compulsory PD courses, you have to start enrolling yourself in elective courses. You can pick and sign up for elective PD courses using Quest, and the process is similar to the one used for enrolling in other academic courses. You’ll also need to enrol yourself using Quest if you need to repeat any of your core PD courses (PD19, PD20, and/or PD21).

If you have questions or issues regarding registration, you should contact your academic program advisor.

Why am I receiving an error when trying to enrol in a PD course?

There may be several reasons why you’re receiving an error when trying to enrol in a PD course. These are the two most common:

  1. You might be attempting to enrol in the incorrect section of a course. Each PD course section is associated with particular reserves, and you’ll receive an error if you try to enrol in a section that doesn’t apply to you or has closed. You can see the reserves and check the open/closed status of each section by searching the Schedule of Classes.
  2. You won’t be able to enrol in any classes if you have a fee hold and/or academic hold on your account. You can view your hold status by logging into your Quest account. If you’re inquiring about a fee hold, contact the Student Financial Services office; if you’re inquiring about an academic hold, contact your academic advisor.

If you’re receiving an error that isn’t related to the issues above and you’re enrolling during a valid enrolment period, please contact the WatPD office with your full name, ID number, and a detailed inquiry. We’ll do our best to investigate the issue.

Are failed PD courses added to my fail count?

Yes. If you fail a PD course, it'll be added to your fail count just like a failed academic course.

Is WatPD-Engineering related to my work reports?

The connection between your PD courses and your work reports varies depending on your department. For more information about work reports and their interaction with your PD courses, please contact your academic program advisor.