Waterloo students preparing for co-op interviews.

Waterloo's co-op program involves a real-world job application process, preparing you for what you'll experience when you graduate.

Many Waterloo co-op students have their first co-op term halfway through second year (although some students start in first year). You'll go to school January through April in first year and then be able to make your own plans for May to August.

When you return in September, you'll take an online course designed to help you succeed in Waterloo's co-op process. You'll also start applying to jobs and going to interviews and then have your first four-month work term in January of second year. There are several other study/work sequences. You can learn about the study/work sequence for your program of interest.

Getting hired

  1. You review job postings from employers Waterloo has recruited and choose which ones you'll apply to.
  2. Employers select students to interview, based on résumés, work experience, and perhaps academic record.
  3. If you're selected for an interview, you'll meet with the employer in person or online.
  4. After the interview, you rank the employers and they rank interviewees based on preference.

Through the rank/match process, we'll attempt to match you with a job. If you're not matched with an employer, you continue the application and interview process until you find a job.

You can also look for jobs on your own, if there's a specific field, employer, or job that interests you. Whatever you decide, our advisors are here to help!

You'll have the same number of courses as students not in co-op and you pay tuition only when you’re in school. You will pay co-op fees which help cover the cost of running the co-op program. These fees are paid over a number of school terms.

By alternating several school and co-op terms, you can explore different career areas and types of employers as your interests evolve.

Sample study/work co-op sequence

  September to December January to April May to August
First year Study term Study term Off
Second year Study term Work term Study term
Third year Work term Study term Work term
Fourth year Study term Work term Study term
Final year Work term Study term  

Study term = Four-month school term at Waterloo
Work term = Four-month co-op work term
Off = Make your own plans (work, travel, vacation, etc.)
Review the study/work sequence for your program of interest.

We're here to help

  • Before your first work term, you'll take a Waterloo professional development course to guide you through the co-op process.
  • Career advisors can help you with job search strategies, creating a résumé, practising for interviews, and figuring out your career interests.
  • You’ll be assigned to a specific co-op advisor who can help you with the co-op process and offer support during your work terms.

You may not land your dream job for your first work term, but working hard and taking the initiative to gain useful skills can set you up for success in future co-op terms.

During your work term

During a co-op work term, you'll be an employee of the organization you're working for. You'll have a manager who will provide training, projects, and guidance. You might have a project of your own or you might contribute to a number of larger projects. Read what students have done during co-op terms.

You'll also complete a professional development course to help you reflect on your work term experience and enhance what you're learning from your co-op term.

A co-op advisor from Waterloo will check in with you during your work term and answer any questions you have.

Ready to learn more?