By: Matthew King

Emerging talent is well-positioned with the skills and knowledge to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace. Is your organization prepared to embrace the transition to AI for good? 

Workplaces are undergoing an AI evolution. With the help of emerging talent, like University of Waterloo co-op students, your organization can effectively embrace this disruptive technology and stay ahead of the competition .  

“We need every Canadian, every business, to jump in. We need students to help us with these challenges,” says Dr. Joel Blit, associate professor and economics and senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. 

According to a report published by The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), 56 per cent of organizations surveyed currently use AI while 36 per cent are exploring the use of AI.  

Here are six tips for how emerging talent like
co-op students can help you improve your AI strategy: 

1. Use AI as a tool, not a replacement.

AI should act as a supportive tool, or co-pilot, not as a human replacement. While there is inevitable job displacement associated with AI, those willing to learn and adapt new skills and work alongside AI can generate new opportunities for themselves and others.  

Illustration of gear on computer

Don’t be afraid of AI, it is not going to replace us but improve our abilities.

Komal Vacchani, Computer Engineering co-op student from the University of Waterloo

“I learned about robotics, including controls and artificial intelligence tools, but also how to communicate better. There’s a lot of potential for how robotics can change the world for the better.” - Olivia Ye, Mechatronics Engineering co-op student from the University of Waterloo 

Yellow arrow

Read more about Olivia’s experience working with AI at robotics startup Medra.

2. Experiment to get results.

Experimenting with AI tools is the best way companies can utilize the technology across an organization. Co-op students are innovative, creative and have tech-savvy skills that can be key to figuring out the best ways to leverage AI. At SINTEF, Waterloo co-op students focus on overcoming challenges with implementing machine learning and AI in a variety of industrial settings. 

Illustration of magnifying glass searching results

Last term we had a Waterloo student working on quantum machine learning. He was part of the effort to publish the first code for quantum reservoir computing which was super cool.

Signe Riemer-Sørensen, research manager of analytics and AI at SINTEF Digital

3. Create a culture of sharing.

By encouraging employees to share their knowledge and experience with using AI, companies can avoid a negative mindset towards using it. For example, ChatGPT and other technologies can be used for data analysis, coding, writing, background research and math. 

Illustration of computers sharing data

Make sure you create a culture and atmosphere where employees can share any learning. The last thing you want to do is have some negative view of people that are using this technology.

Dr. Blit 

“Students are enthusiastic, with new fresh ideas from what they’re learning at school. We don’t always know the latest in tech with programming, machine learning and genetic algorithms. We’ve had students who do high-level applications using interesting computing techniques that we use to help solve our problems. These students are driven and work well in teams.” - Marcello Pavan, student program director at TRIUMF. 

Yellow arrow

Read more about how Waterloo co-op students help drive scientific discoveries at TRIUMF

4. Use AI to enhance creativity and efficiency.

By harnessing the power of AI, you can streamline your marketing efforts and more effectively target your preferred audience. It allows you to create operational efficiency through quick and reliable data analysis, empowering decision-making processes and more informed strategic planning.

Students at Dundas Life, a startup insurance company, utilized AI to help direct marketing videos and generate ads. Ellen Zhao, a Financial Analysis and Risk Management student, used many AI tools and incorporated them into her daily tasks at Dundas Life.  

Illustration of light bulb and rocket

I don’t think just using ChatGPT is sufficient at all, especially for content creation, a lot of it comes from your own personality, a lot of it comes from your creativity. I use ChatGPT as a tool, it helps enhance my abilities, not replacing my own abilities.


Yellow arrow

Read more about how Waterloo students are key to innovation-first approach at startup Dundas Life.

5. Replace, reimagine and recombine. 

AI is constantly changing and combining with other technologies. It is important to experiment and keep up with current technology trends. Co-op students are resilient and are not afraid of change. They can shift accordingly to this changing landscape and see the technology as a tool to help them become even better at their jobs. 

Illustration of recycling sign around light bulb

Just this year we had one Waterloo student who created a machine learning algorithm to help tune one of our beams. Before, it would take hours for operators to do it manually. Now her algorithm does it in minutes saving huge amounts of time.

Marcello Pavan

“I began working with AI because of the practical aspect and the amount of new working opportunities it offers. Having worked on so many different AI projects, I am excited for more chances to explore the space.” – Brian Li, Biomedical Engineering student.

Yellow arrow

Read more about how Rocket Innovation Studio soars ahead by leveraging Waterloo’s top tech talent.

6. Remember AI isn’t the be-all and end-all

It must be understood that AI isn’t the be-all, end all. While AI is powerful and transformative, it's not the ultimate solution for every problem or situation. It's important to recognize the limitations of AI and understand that it cannot address every challenge.

In many cases, human judgment, creativity and ethical considerations are still essential. Students can come up with some innovative ideas and bring a level of risk appetite necessary to take advantage of AI.  

Illustration of route approaching finish line

We have human intelligence working with machine intelligence, and we elevate each other together. It is not one taking over the other by any means.


"Currently, we don’t have any AI that looks at every aspect of our life. We don’t want to be scared of AI; it can be a great help to us. But it’s not all-powerful and all-knowing. It doesn’t have that flexibility and it isn’t particularly easy to give it to the level of context needed to make decisions the same way that we can about the spaces that we’re experts in." - Brian Li

Yellow arrow

Read more about how emerging talent is leading the adoption of AI in workplaces.