What is co-op?
Co-op integrates paid work experience as part of 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. It's an amazing way to explore careers, gain relevant experience, and make money while earning your degree. You’ll learn to successfully interview for jobs, apply your skills to real-life problems, and graduate with up to two years of valuable experience.
How is co-op different from an internship?
Co-op terms are normally paid, while internships are often unpaid.
Co-op at Waterloo
Take advantage of Waterloo’s huge network of co-op employers – the largest of any university in North America!
4 to 6 co-op work terms
With multiple work terms, try out different careers to see what you like – or dislike.
Earn $8,400 to $18,000 per work term in Canada
Make money to help pay for school and gain experience at the same time!
Develop skills for your future
You'll learn how to identify your strengths and develop skills essential for future careers.
Graduate with smaller debt
Waterloo students have smaller student loans and are more successful at paying them back.
A network for your future
Learn to ace job interviews and networking opportunities so you can hit the workforce as a pro.
Graduate with up to two years of experience
A Waterloo co-op program takes five academic years to complete – a year longer than a regular (non-co-op) program – but you'll graduate with nearly two years of paid work experience!
Get the experience you want
By choosing which types of co-op jobs you apply to, you can focus on the experience or connections you want.
Explore potential careers through co-op
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.
Though co-op can be challenging, we're here to help. Career advisors can help you with job search strategies, creating a résumé and cover letter, practising for interviews, and figuring out your overall career direction – all key skills for your career. You’ll also be assigned to a specific co-op advisor who can help you navigate the application process and offer support throughout your work term. Co-op work terms start in first or second year, depending on your program.
Sample study/work co-op sequence
Most students have their first work term halfway through second year (although some do start in first year). You'll go to school for eight months in first year, have your summer off, start the application and interview process when you return to school in September, and then have your first four-month work term in January of second year.
|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
Before your first work term, you'll take a Waterloo professional development course to guide you through the co-op process. You'll also start applying to jobs and going to interviews during your school term. 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.
1. Apply to jobs
Review jobs submitted by our co-op employers and apply to jobs that interest you.
You'll interview with employers who select you based on your résumé, work experience, and perhaps academic record.
Rank employers in order of preference and they rank you in our match process.
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.
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 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.
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, including Snapchat, Barclays, General Motors, Google, Morgan Stanley, and Disney.
Most students work in the Waterloo area, Toronto, and Ottawa but can work elsewhere in Canada. Choose your experience by the types of jobs you apply to through our exclusive job board for Waterloo co-op students, or find a job on your own!
Federal, provincial, municipal, international agencies
Banks, insurance companies, accounting and investment firms
Small and large firms in Canada, Silicon Valley, and elsewhere
Consulting, urban planning, engineering, law
Education and non-profits
Universities, colleges, schools, non-profit organizations
Hospitals, rehab centres, research institutes, pharmaceutical companies
Hydro companies, oil and gas, transit, telecommunications
Mining, auto manufacturers, consumer goods
Social media, public relations, marketing, publishing
Ready to learn more?
- Most of Waterloo's programs are available through co-op