Work terms must be a minimum of 35 hours per week for 16 weeks unless other arrangements have been made with the Co-op Office. The start and end dates of each work term can be determined by the employer or co-operatively between the employer and student.
There are measures that employers can take to ensure a work term begins on a positive note:
- Invite the student to the workplace prior to the beginning of the work term. Introduce the new student to the current student (if applicable) and perhaps consider having a day or two of overlap. This has proven to be a great transition strategy and reduces the amount of time full-time permanent employees have to spend with the new Co-op student.
- When contacting the student once the placement has been finalized, provide him / her with additional details of the project or role that he / she will assume so a chance exists to brush up on any skills required.
Work term success depends largely upon both parties (the student and the employer) having their expectations met. This only happens when all parties are engaged and willing to invest in the placement.
Employer getting good value for money and time spent
Student getting valuable experience with consistent feedback
SUCCESSFUL WORK TERM
Feedback gathered from students over the past several years indicate that a valuable work term experience normally includes:
- A thorough orientation to the employer / department and team. This should include things like dress code, hours, benefits, who reports to whom, the employer / department and team structure, Internet usage rules, and assigning someone to invite the student for coffee or lunch.
- A couple of days of training or reading during which time the student can further understand the workplace culture. More than a couple of days becomes tedious to students - they want to jump in and start contributing!
- A very clearly defined set of expectations i.e. what the student has to accomplish or demonstrate to be successful.
- Having a specific person or persons to whom questions and ideas can be posed.
Meaningful and challenging work. Students like:
- Being busy
- Learning new things
- Taking ownership of a task or project
- Feeling comfortable enough to bring forth new ideas
- Being involved in the social side of the work place
- Being asked what their expectations include such as what their learning objectives are for the work term in addition to their short and long term goals