Information for

Preparing for co-op

If you're admitted to one of Waterloo's co-op programs, you'll complete 4 to 6 paid work terms (normally 4 months in length) over the course of your degree. 

It's a good idea to start your preparations for co-op early. There are thousands of co-op jobs you can apply to, but there are also lots of fellow co-op students applying to those jobs. 

Once you've been admitted to Waterloo, you can use our CareerHub website to do an assessment of your skills, find careers of interest, and more. 

Ways to prepare for co-op before Waterloo

Get a part-time job

A great introduction to the workplace, part-time jobs can provide skills (like teamwork and time management) that are transferable across all jobs.  


Volunteering is a perfect way to gain experience in a field you’re passionate about – and it looks GREAT on a résumé.  

Learn a new skill

Whether it’s coding, photography, or first-aid, show employers you're a self-starter by learning something new on your own time.

Build a network

You already have contacts in the workforce: family friends, neighbours, and parents' colleagues so let them know you'll be looking for meaningful 4-month work terms.


Once you're on campus

Before your first work term, you'll learn about the co-op process and be able to connect with your co-op advisor. 

Attend workshops, book an appointment, or have your résumé reviewed through the Centre for Career Action

You'll learn how to be successful in co-op, such as creating an effective résumé, interviewing, and succeeding on the job.


Waterloo's co-op program is similar to a true job search, in which you apply to and compete for jobs that interest you rather than being placed in a job.

Waterloo's co-op process

  • In the school term prior to your work term, you'll read co-op job descriptions and apply to the jobs and employers that interest you.
  • Interview with employers who select you based on your résumé and academic/co-op record.
  • Rank the interviews you had in order of preference. You'll be ranked by the employers who interviewed you, and a matching system will then attempt to match you with a job. Your work term will start after you finish your school term. 
  • If you're not matched with a job, continue the application and interview process.
  • For your work term (normally 4 months), you'll be an employee of the company or organization that hired you. Once you complete your term, you'll return to Waterloo for another school term. 

You'll receive academic credit for each co-op term you successfully complete.

When is your first work term?

Most work terms start in second year, although there are some Engineering and Math programs that start in first year. Find out when your first work term happens.

For international students

If you will be studying in Canada on a study permit, you should apply for your work permit at the same time that you apply for your study permit. You'll need a work permit for your co-op work terms.


Learn more