Co-op talent from Waterloo helps OpenText to navigate equity, diversity and inclusion

Thursday, March 16, 2023

View of exterior of OpenText office building with LGBTQ+ pride flags

By: Krista Henry (she/her)

OpenText looks to co-op talent from the University of Waterloo to create a career path for Black and female talent in technology at the company.

OpenText’s navigator internship program provides co-op and mentorship opportunities to underrepresented communities. Launched in 2022, the program focuses on Black, Indigenous and female talent. In 2023, the program will recruit from Waterloo’s Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) program for its Black and female talent while welcoming Indigenous applicants.

“We want to create meaningful career pathways for underrepresented groups in a digital world,” says Deb James (she/her), senior manager of talent acquisition at OpenText.

Deb JamesDeb James
Senior manager of talent acquisition at OpenText

“This is a core part of our zero-in barriers initiative to have an ethnically diverse workforce, with 50 per cent gender parity and 40 per cent women in leadership roles, all by 2030. That starts in the early career phase like co-op students.”

Through the navigator internship program, students work in the organization for four months from May to August.

Student roles include software developers, UX UI designers, graphic designers, android developers, marketing interns, account development interns, data governance interns and business intelligence developers. 


Exceptional talent blooms from Waterloo

Last year, OpenText recruited from historically Black colleges and universities in the United States. The software company hired seven Black students, 17 Indigenous students and more than 20 female students. Most of the female students hired were from Waterloo. This year, the organization wants to recruit closer to home.

top quote

We’re recruiting from the University of Waterloo because that’s where our roots are. We were founded at Waterloo and the talent there is exceptional.



Through the program, students are paired with a professional mentor from one of the company’s employee network groups. OpenText’s employee network groups include Worldwide OpenText Women (WOW), Black employee empowerment, Indigenous & allies and queer & allies. While working on high tech projects, students undergo professional and personal development workshops and participate in lunch-and-learn sessions as well as a personal financial literacy session.

“The students support pivotal programs on the product and cloud technologies side, information technology and marketing,” says James. “The organization strives to be ahead of the game for female hiring.”

As part of OpenText’s dedication to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action, the company also hires 100 per cent Indigenous talent for their Indigenous internship program.

“We want to do our part to provide opportunities to the Indigenous community as well as to empower Black youth,” says James.

“Students in the navigator internship program have brought so much to OpenText. We have learned a lot about their values, cultures and perspectives.”

Since launching the program in 2022, OpenText has hired 11 students into full-time positions. They welcomed 150 co-op students/interns in the United States and Canada in that time frame. The company hopes to continue hiring more students as the program continues.

According to Manjot Sidhu (she/her), talent acquisition co-ordinator at OpenText, Waterloo is a great pathway to sustainable talent.

“We’ve been recruiting from Waterloo for two decades now. A lot of our employees are Waterloo alum, and the candidates are fantastic,” says Sidhu. “We try to hire as many as we can.”

Manjot Sidhu, Talent acquisition co-ordintaor at OpenTextManjot Sidhu
Talent acquisition co-ordinator at OpenText


Tips for diverse and inclusive recruiting:

How has OpenText successfully recruited and retained diverse talent? Here are tips from James and Sidhu:

Person mentoring three other people

1. Provide support.

“Our equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) program is run by tenacious individuals who are here to support our people. There’s a lot of mentorship and development opportunities,” says James. “We have a collaborative and supportive culture.”


Person next to arrows and a control switch to show being adaptable

2. Be authentic.

“A lot of employers focus on getting people through the door but may struggle to support them once they get into the organization,” says Sidhu. “It’s important that employers continue to show a genuine interest in their employee’s success, providing them with resources, opportunities for growth and mentorship and consistent support throughout their journey.”


A heart shaped lock with a key in it

3. Remove barriers.

“EDI recruitment is about more than meeting a certain quota or number. You need to constantly work on removing barriers within your organization and creating a supportive environment for the students and employees,” says James.


Connect with us and learn about recruiting diverse Waterloo talent

Colleen Phillips-DavisColleen Phillips-Davis (she/her)

Associate Director,
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Anti-racism


Bryanne SmartBryanne Smart (she/her)

Associate Director,
Indigenous Relations



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