Co-op and careers

Two students in the co-op program at Waterloo shake hands.

Explore careers, earn money, and gain experience through North America's largest co-op program.

What is co-op?

Co-op lets you explore careers and gain paid work experience while earning your university degree. As a co-op student at Waterloo, you’ll normally alternate between four months in school and four months as a full-time employee of the organization you're working for.

Waterloo's co-op program is an amazing way to learn to successfully interview for jobs, see how your degree relates to real-life problems, graduate with up to two years of valuable experience – and make money!

Why co-op at Waterloo?

Network of employers

With the largest co-op program of its kind in North America, you'll get access to a wide variety of jobs and experiences.

Earn while you learn

Make money to help pay for school and gain experience at the same time! Students typically make between $8,400 and $19,800 per work term in Canada.

Less debt

Waterloo students have smaller student loans and are more successful at paying them back.

4 to 6 co-op work terms

With multiple work terms, you can explore different careers to see what you're good at, the problems you want to help solve, and what you love to do. You'll also learn to ace job interviews and make contacts – before you start your career!

Develop skills for your future

You'll learn how to identify your strengths and develop skills essential for future careers.


Explore potential careers through co-op

As a co-op student, Nicole led a national project for Microsoft Canada. She says that co-op was one of the best decisions of her life.

How does co-op work?

Waterloo's co-op program involves a real-world job application process, preparing you for what you'll experience when you graduate. Very simply, you apply to jobs, have interviews with employers, and then go into a process that matches students and employers based on preference.

How co-op works →

Co-op work/study schedules →

What's the difference between co-op and internships? →

82%of Waterloo co-op grads earn $50,000+ two years after graduation compared to 45% of Ontario graduates
96%of our co-op grads employed six months after graduation find jobs related to skills they acquired at Waterloo, compared to 79% of all university graduates in Ontario.

Where do co-op students work?

Waterloo co-op students work for an incredible range of employers, from small startup firms to all levels of government, non-profit organizations, and some of the world's biggest companies. Most students work in the Waterloo area, Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and throughout Ontario, but can also work across Canada and the world!

  • Alberta Cancer Research Institute
  • Amnesty International Canada
  • Apple
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada
  • Bloomberg
  • Canadian Cancer Society
  • Canadian Space Agency
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research
  • CIBC World Markets
  • City of Toronto
  • Diamond Schmitt Architects
  • EllisDon Construction
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Ernst & Young LLP
  • Facebook
  • Ford Motor Company of Canada
  • Google
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Honda Canada
  • Hydro One
  • IBM Canada
  • Intact Financial
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Labatt Breweries
  • LinkedIn
  • Microsoft Canada
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Ontario Power Generation
  • Parks Canada
  • Pfizer
  • RBC Financial Group
  • Suncor Energy
  • Sun Life Financial
  • The Hospital for Sick Children
  • Tim Horton Children’s Foundation
  • Toronto Transit Commission
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada
  • United Nations Association in Canada
  • University of Waterloo
  • Waterloo Region Museum
  • Peel Regional Police
  • WhatsApp
  • Yelp
  • YMCA Canada

See sample co-op jobs →

megaphone icon"Co-op has allowed me to meet and work with so many great people. Before I started co-op, I had no relevant experience in my field. Through co-op, I've been able to create employer connections, build my résumé, and greatly improve my interview skills!"Taryn, fourth-year Therapeutic Recreation student
megaphone icon"Co-op has given me direction and confidence. I would have felt absolutely clueless upon graduation, but now I know what kind of career I want – and I have work experience from five co-op terms that sets me apart from other job applicants."Miila, fourth-year Planning student
megaphone icon"Co-op has exposed me to different fields. Last term, I used my spatial analyst skills in a GIS analyst role. Next term I’ll be working with my other passion: marketing! Co-op allows you to find your calling – in or outside the scope of your program."Martin, second-year Geomatics student
megaphone icon"Being in co-op has improved my time management skills as I learned to balance school, interviews, and my social life. Co-op has also helped me determine my career goals by allowing me to explore different jobs and exposing me to various industries."Renee, fourth-year Computer Science student
megaphone icon"My co-op jobs have allowed me to pay for school while completing my degree. I'm now able to graduate from university debt-free, giving me more freedom after graduation in choosing where I live and who I work for."Julia, fourth-year Biochemistry student
megaphone icon"On co-op, you get the chance to make and improve from mistakes, learn practical knowledge, and work for a variety of companies. The diversity and practical experience from co-op are undeniable competitive edges for seeking employment after graduation."Sanjeevani, fourth-year Mechatronics Engineering student
megaphone icon"Through co-op I’m able to apply my classroom learning during my work terms. Meanwhile, I'm building great networks and gaining valuable experience. I’m confident that the co-op program will prepare me for what is to come after my undergrad."Abby, third-year Psychology student

Is co-op right for you?

Through approximately 21,000 work terms each year, students land roles that help them round out their learning with future-ready skills. But, like every choice you make in life – whether it's coffee or tea, co-op or a regular program – there are pros and cons to both.


Among other benefits, co-op

  • gives you access to opportunities you can't find anywhere else,
  • helps you earn money to pay your tuition,
  • teaches you how to network,
  • gives you feedback from professionals,
  • allows you to graduate with a solid résumé, and
  • increases your chances for employment right after graduation.


While co-op can be highly rewarding and open new doors, there's no guarantee you'll find relevant jobs. The challenge of finding a co-op job

  • adds stress to your academic terms,
  • increases your tuition,
  • may require you to relocate,
  • adds an extra year to your degree, and
  • may limit your participation in other activities.

#1 in Canada for graduate employment rateQS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022

Ways we'll support your career →