They challenge the status quo. They take initiative. They think critically.

Waterloo Arts co‐op students are standout employees who make a significant impact at electronic health record technology company, PointClickCare, which provides software solutions to long‐term care and senior living facilities.

“They come in and bring fresh perspectives our teams may have never thought of before,” says Nermina Lika, talent program manager with the organization.

As a former student employee herself, Lika understands the value of work‐integrated learning for students and employers.

She describes Waterloo’s students as a critical component of PointClickCare’s workforce strategy.

"Ever since I’ve been here, co‐op hiring has been a critical piece to our workforce plan strategy,” says Lika, who has been leading the co‐op program for over six years.

"[Students] bring new ideas, they bring creativity, and they bring fresh perspective to our teams. From an employer perspective, it also gives us the opportunity to evaluate a full‐time employee before we commit to hiring them. It gives us access to a diverse talent pool of highly motivated students.”

Human-Centered (Soft skills) critical during pandemic

The pandemic has enhanced the need for student employees to possess strong communication skills and the ability to adjust quickly to the new virtual environment.

“COVID has accelerated the need for us to have a broader focus on the soft skills,” Lika says. “We can teach the technical skills. We now place a higher importance on the soft skills, and I am finding that a lot of Arts students are coming equipped with a variety of the soft skillset we look for.”

Arts students’ communication and critical thinking skills are vital as employees continue to work from home.

Find out why employers (like PointClickCare) hire Waterloo Arts co-op students

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A big part of PointClickCare’s goal is to provide students autonomy and empowerment, allowing them to add value to the team through innovation. Those skills are important in the current work environment.

“They never feel like they’re a co‐op student when we hire them,” Lika says. “That’s always the mentality we want to ensure all our teams that hire students have. We gather feedback from each student every term, to ensure that this is in fact their reality.”

What roles do Arts co‐op students have?

Lika describes one Arts student who excelled in her co‐op term by working in different departments at PointClickCare.

The student, who was hired in the corporate systems technology group of the organization, took the initiative to branch out and gain exposure into other areas of the organization.

During her eight-month co-op term, she shadowed multiple roles, including an account development representative role within the PointClickCare sales team.

The student saw an opportunity to create an automated tool for our sales rep, which ended up in more closed business deals and eventually, higher revenue for the organization.

The student even received an innovation award for her efforts.

Arts students can thrive in a lot of different teams and roles. PointClickCare has leveraged Arts students for roles such in technical writing project management, sales, business analysis, human resources, and marketing.

“Arts students really thrive with ambiguity and embrace the unknown. That’s where they learn to use their curiosity and critical thinking, they come in and think outside the box and bring those perspectives we may not otherwise have,” Lika adds.