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What students do during co-op terms

With 7,000 co-op employers, Waterloo students work for an amazing range of organizations. Common areas include

  • Business
  • Health care
  • Health research
  • Education and NGOs
  • Technology
  • Engineering and science
  • Government
  • Environment and sustainability
 

But what do co-op students do? Here are a few examples that students have shared with us.

Business

video game coversBlake travelled to Vancouver to work at Electronic Arts - NHL Division in the Brand Management Marketing, where he helped with the development of the NHL video game.

As part of his role, Blake developed business proposals used to implement new features in the game and provided feedback to the development teams regarding gameplay.

This fast-paced co-op experience exposed the Speech Communication student to new technologies, and helped him realize his passion for the gaming industry.

Health care

As a Recreation Therapy Student at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Kaitlyn helped improve the quality of life of schizophrenia patients by designing and implementing recreation events to accommodate their needs.

She also had the opportunity to shadow medical professionals within the hospital, working with patients suffering from a variety of mental illnesses.

Kaitlyn was able to use her knowledge as a Therapeutic Recreation student to make lasting impacts on the lives of patients with mental illness.

Health research

Laavanya worked alongside physicians, nurses, and pharmacists during 4 co-op terms at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. The Health Studies student shadowed medical oncologists and worked with cancer patients, gaining valuable insights on patient perspectives of healthcare. 

As a Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Research Assistant at Sunnybrook, she conducted literature reviews, developed proposals, collected data, and created presentations to share research findings. Her co-op experiences reinforced Laavanya's goal of becoming a physician.

Education and NGOs

Co-op student passing ball to child in wheel chairIn her third work term, Laurin worked at an overnight camping facility designed for children with physical disabilities.

As a cabin leader at Camp Woodeden, she learned about mobility disorders and the techniques used to improve kids' quality of life and ability to be as independent as possible.

Prior to the role, Laurin, who is studying Kinesiology, wanted to work with older populations. However, co-op gave her the opportunity to discover that that working with children with disabilities is a career path she is passionate about.

Technology

Compass employees in matching sweatersWhen he began his studies at Waterloo, Vincent never expected he could be working in the heart of New York City.

As a Computer Science co-op student at Compass in New York City, he learned to program new features into an iOS and Android app. Despite having no experience in mobile development, he was mentored by full-time staff and quickly developed new skills.

Vincent loved how Compass gave him meaningful work rather than a project that might be thrown out. Working outside of Canada also opened Vincent’s eyes to the diversity of jobs and locations available in co-op.

Engineering and science

Joseph says working as a field engineering student with PCL, one of Canada's top construction management companies, was awesome because he was involved with the construction of Canada's newest hockey arena: Rogers Place - the new home of the NHL's Edmonton Oilers.

PCL gave him tremendous responsibilities and tasks that he says other companies would be hesitant to give. They trusted their students to do a good job while giving the support they needed to be successful.

A fourth-year Civil Engineering student, Joseph learned about one of the largest sub-disciplines of civil engineering: construction. Construction and construction management is a tough undertaking since there are so many complex things that can't be taken into account during the design phase. It's an important and difficult task to ensure buildings, bridges, and other structures are built properly, efficiently, and of course, safely.

An interior shot of Rogers Place Edmonton under construction
Rogers Place under construction.

Government

As a Policy Analyst, Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Misha researched international and national policies to support cultural preservation of Indigenous communities.

She created a technical report which identified best practices for ongoing engagement between governments and indigenous populations within Canada. As a Political Science student, Misha really valued the exposure to public policy and development, inspiring her to pursue a Master’s degree in public policy.

Environment and sustainability

Isha helped develop policies relating to land use plans in northern Canada during her work term as an Environmental Policy Analyst with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Her projects included analyzing development initiatives, including the environmental assessment legislation for Mackenzie Valley, the Nunavut Land Use plan and federal development projects in the Yukon.

As an Environment and Resource Studies student, this role integrated Isha’s passion for environment sustainability with valuable knowledge in public policy, business and research skills to prepare her for a career in federal public service.

Her work term highlighted the importance of other sectors in relation to federal government; for example, the intersection between business in the North and federal policies. Isha is now considering working in different sectors before entering government to serve Canadians and protect the environment in a sustainable manner.


Learn more about co-op