Tips for getting the most out of your co-op experiences

Finding a great co-op work term can sometimes be challenging, especially with the impacts of COVID-19. Here we've shared information that will help you in finding and making the most out of every work term experience. 

What are employers looking for?

The word cloud below is a collection of the skills that employers were most frequently seeking from Recreation and Leisure students, based on five years' worth of job posting data in positions that ultimately hired Recreation students. Consider ways of highlighting these skills in your cover letters and resumes when applying for jobs or in interviews.

Co-op skills wordcloud

Faculty of Health co-op community on Learn

Check out the resources on the Faculty of Health Co-op Community on UW-Learn. This Faculty of Health Co-op Community is a resource for all co-op students in the Faculty of Health. The community is a collaboration between Co-operative Education and the Faculty of Health, and is meant to share just in time information and to offer students the supports and resources they might need in preparation for and during their co-op experience.

Worried about the possibility of having to work remotely?  

We've put together six great tips to help you navigate this transition as a co-op student as well as this student blog on Maintaining professionalism while working from home.

Examples of steps taken to mitigate effects of COVID on students work terms:

  • Extra employment cycle added to recruitment term to help solidify matches between employers and students faster
  • All interviews arranged through WaterlooWorks are conducted remotely via webcam or phone to maximize flexibility for both students and employers
  • Application limits increase by increments of 50 with every new posting cycle which allows students to apply to a greater number of jobs
  • We’ve increased our flexibility around our existing work term requirements to consider a wider variety of workplaces, positions and rates of pay for co-op credit
  • Reduced the number of work terms needed to meet degree requirements for students who do not find employment in work terms scheduled and impacted by COVID

What types of jobs do Rec students get?

The following are specific examples of junior and intermediate/senior level co-op jobs held recently by students in each degree program. The Co-op Pathways infographic (PDF) shows the journey of students through these job levels. Remember when you are applying for jobs you can apply to any jobs, regardless of the majors or areas listed in the posting. Sometimes the greatest opportunities come from searching out the unexpected, and letting employers know about the great skill sets that Recreation students have developed. 

Recreation and Sport Business

  • League Operations Administrator for a non-profit regional soccer league
  • Sales Funnel and Lead Generation Associate for a marketing and sales team at a healthcare technology start-up
  • Marketing and Sales Intern for a gym franchise
  • Game Day Operations Intern for a minor hockey league team
  • Project Assistant, Operations and Programs for a national physical activity charity
  • Partnerships Intern for a national golf association

Recreation and Leisure Studies

  • Outdoor Education Instructor/Counsellor for an outdoor education camp
  • Event Support Specialist for an event coordination app company
  • Community Support Worker for a regional non-profit organization that supports adults with disabilities
  • Youth Activity Facilitator for a regional school board
  • Social Entrepreneur-in-Training working with a variety of start-ups and early stage social enterprises across a regional area
  • Community Recreation Facilitator for a community-based non-profit that supports adults with acquired brain injuries

Therapeutic Recreation

  • Vocational/Residential Assistant for a residential home for people with intellectual disabilities
  • Inclusion Counsellor for a summer camp setting working one-on-one with a child with a disability
  • Programs Assistant for a provincial disability advocate society working in a school setting
  • Community Recreation Facilitator for a community-based non-profit that supports adults with acquired brain injuries
  • Recreation Therapy Student for a regional in-patient healthcare center assisting with a schizophrenia program
  • Community Inclusion and Leisure Collaborator for a non-profit organization supporting people with developmental disabilities

Tourism Development

  • Host Instructor for an outdoor camp
  • Student Museum Gallery Interpreter for a regional museum
  • Program Support Student for a provincial ministry supporting an environmental assessment program
  • Urban Outreach Team Leader for a national tourism and environmental governmental association
  • Accommodation and Adventures Listings Manager for a national tourism rental company that specializes in creating custom experiences
  • Heritage Interpreter and Paddle Guide for a national nature and heritage organization

How many students find co-op jobs each term?

Co-operative Education provides employment statistics for each term by department or faculty. The employment rates are updated throughout each term. 

Strong employment rates during COVID

We can compare our co-op employment rates for Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 to the equivalent StatsCan student labour force employed rates, where our co-op students have finished well ahead of their peers:

  • The final Spring 2020 co-op employment rate of 86.4% for UWaterloo students finished well ahead of both the Canadian Labour Force Employed Rate (66%~69% amongst students 17 to 24) and the Ontario Labour Force Employed Rate (63~66% amongst students 17 to 24), measured by Statistics Canada in June 2020 at the end of Spring recruiting.
  • Our current Fall 2020 co-op employment rate of 90.0% as of October 6th 2020 is well ahead of the Canadian Labour Force Employed Rate of 74.4% for students aged 17 to 24 in Canada for August 2020 (latest data available), and further ahead of the Ontario Labour Force Employed Rate of 68~70% for Students aged 17 to 24 in Ontario in August 2020.

Other resources

Co-operative Education and the Centre for Career Action also offer various resources and workshops to help prepare you for the job search and interview processes, as well as success strategies while on your work term.