27 thoughts on “Waterloo Co-op

  1. Going to Waterloo Eng this coming year. Just want to ask: what are your opinions on UofT’s version of Coop? PEY (12-16 month internship) + the option of eSIP (2nd year summer placement)? Would you say its equal to Waterloo’s Coop Program? I’ve been hearing how a a lot of PEY students get job offers from the company they have worked for and how much more “involved” they are with their employers/co-workers since the placement is longer.

    • This will be a long reply : ) And I’ll be adding PEY vs Co-op to my original post (can’t believe I left it out!)

      First of all, a 4 month term vs a 12 month term should not really differ on how much of an impression you make on your employer. Normally, in a real full time job (at least in a more structured company), a 3-month ‘trial’ is common for seeing if the employee is doing well. As I’ve mentioned, it’s common to get full-time offers if your employer enjoyed having you during your 4 month coop.

      Also, it is possible to return to the same company in your following co-op term, if you and your employer agreed on it. It saves them time from recruiting, and time for you from having to find your next job.

      Another thing I did not mention is the possibility of doing an 8-month co-op. This is more difficult for engineers because of the lack of course availability and stricter guidelines of changing streams.

      In terms of PEY vs Co-op, it depends on many things.

      1. Whether you want breadth or depth. But either way, you’ll get experience. Waterloo eng will let you try out up 5-6 different companies, so it can vary on industry, company size, environment, etc. You will likely gain a wider range of skills, and a larger network. PEY lets you try out 1. But you will get a ton of experience and strong connections at that 1 company.

      2. Whether you want more flexibility in your schedule. Summers off for UofT students, but that doesn’t mean they can’t apply to internships on their own. It may be more difficult trying to find jobs on your own, though. Waterloo students are on a mandatory schedule, it’s actually pretty demanding.

      3. How quickly the company develops its products and/or services. Small startups may create a product within 4-6 months, while larger companies may use a waterfall approach and take 2 years. We can see where a co-op is more suitable vs. a PEY student. This is not to say companies will take PEYs over co-ops, or vice versa. Perhaps there are multiple divisions and teams that work at different paces. As a co-op, you probably wouldn’t want to work at a slowpaced company that releases every 2 years (won’t get to see the work you accomplished there).

      4. Salary. It matters! Especially if you need to pay your own rent + living expenses. Waterloo co-op provides a chart for every successive co-op term, and many companies go off of that chart. Every consecutive co-op term, the average increases by a dollar or 2. According to the PEY Stats, they only show numbers rather than percentages of students who receive jobs. So I really cannot tell whether or not a lot of employees look for PEYs or not. I don’t have access to their database, so I can only assume things based on their numbers. The salaries look similar to the co-op average for students doing their 4th work term (usually for students finishing up their 3A term). The ones listed for eSIP are a bit low, though, and since eSIP is a new program, very few employers know about it (and want to find junior students).

      When comparing eSIP to Waterloo co-op, Waterloo is probably a more viable choice for employers as there are more students to choose from, and the quality of students is slightly better since they’ve already had 2 or 3 co-op terms under their belt.

      In conclusion, both programs have their benefits. Obviously Waterloo has a greater focus on a student’s career, as the school also provides professional development training prior and during all of your co-op terms. That’s why UofT is known for its graduate programs – there’s a strong focus on continuing studies.

  2. Nice post! Very thorough and useful suggestions from a student’s perspective.

    For prospective students concerned about not having a summer break, I always ask “Wouldn’t you be working anyways? How are you going to pay for school?”.

  3. I got admission from OufT comp science major software engineering
    and regular comp science in Uwaterloo.
    have to choose one of them what is your advice.
    Are there big differences between them because of for advantage of cheaping of Waterloo I want to go there –but dont have information about education.if comparing are equal also in education will be great for me waiting for reply thanks in advance

    • Wait, what? Waterloo is cheaper? Are you sure? When I was applying to schools a couple of years ago, U of T CS was in Arts & Science, and costed a lot less than UW CS tuition.

  4. Thanks A Bunch! I just received acceptance to Waterloo for Science and Business with Co-op and had NO CLUE how this whole thing worked! thanks a lot for clearing things up for me:) I am definitely glad that I came across this as Co-op isn’t all that they make it up to be…I swear the student guide made it seem as if everyone makes a fortune in co-op.

    • I’m glad you found this informative :) Yes, co-op is a great opportunity but it isn’t like a sailing ship. There are obstacles to get your co-op jobs still. Compared to other schools though, Waterloo has a fairly established program that provides tons of career services to help you out.

  5. Firstly, this is a great and informative post and it really helped me out in understanding the elements of co-op. Thanks a lot.

    My question is regarding the relevant work experience you should have on your resume before your interviews. I’ve been accepted to Chemical Engineering and was wondering what would be a good place to do some volunteering so that I have some relevant experience? I want to be able to distinguish myself and accentuate my chances of getting a preferred co-op placement, I’m just having trouble finding out how to start. Thanks again for the brilliant post, I will definitely be keeping up with this blog.

    • Hi there, I’ll be completely honest, I have no idea where a high school student could get relevant volunteer experience in the field of chemeng. It is pretty difficult for those in the field to trust high school students, as you guys have little lab experience.

      You can probably check out the Deep River Science Academy summer program. A friend of mine went for it when she was in 11th grade and seemed to have a good time. It’s not necessarily volunteering, but you get to take part in interesting projects and is a great learning experience. I realize that their application deadline was 2 days ago, but maybe you can email them about late applications. http://www.drsa.ca/blog/index.php/programs/summer-science-immersion/for-students/

      Remember that you do not necessarily need to always have relevant work/volunteer experience to stand out. Going to relevant conferences, attending events/programs like the one I mentioned above are pretty noteworthy, too.

      Good luck!

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