Co-operative education (co-op) is a model of education that formally integrates a student’s academic learning with workplace learning in fields relevant to the student’s academic and personal goals. Co-op provides students with structured work experiences with approved employers that promote career exploration, expand employer contacts and apply in-class teachings to real-work situations.
Co-op alternates periods of work experience (work terms) in career-related fields with times of academic study (semesters) according to the following criteria:
- Each work experience is approved by the college as a suitable learning environment.
- The co-op student is engaged in productive work rather than merely observing.
- The co-op student receives remuneration for the work performed.
- The co-op student's progress on the job is monitored by the college. The work term is acknowledged on the student’s academic transcript.
- The co-op student's performance on the job is supervised and assessed by the student's employer.
- The time spent in periods of work experience must be at least 30 per cent of the time spent in academic study and no more than 75 per cent.
- The co-op experience is paid by the employer for 12 to 14 weeks.
Which programs offer co-op?
Program descriptions are available by visiting https://durhamcollege.ca/programs/co-op.
Students interested in transferring to the co-op option of their program must meet the following requirements:
- A minimum semester grade point average (SGPA). This varies by program and co-op students must also maintain their SGPA requirements each semester to remain eligible for co-op.
- All program course credits are successfully completed.
- On-cycle with their POS.
- Possess an academic progression status of “Good Standing” and have no “HOLDS” on college accounts.
- Complete the Introduction to Co-op course on DC Connect
- Submit a Transfer to Co-op form to the Co-op office by the advertised due date within the first academic year of your program.
Preparing for the work term
The Co-op and Career Preparation credit course (COOP 1000) is a prerequisite to participating in the first work term and helps students prepare and plan successfully for the job search and subsequent work term(s). The purpose of this course is for students to enhance their career planning skills and apply these skills to secure and effectively prepare for their co-op work term. Self-marketing techniques such as developing cover letters and resumes, searching for jobs, professionally using social media, researching and networking, and interviewing will be developed and practiced.
How does an employer hire a co-op student?
Step 1: Approved employers post their positions on the Hired Portal at https://hired.durhamcollege.ca
Employers contact the Co-op office to post their positions on the Hired portal. Co-op students will be granted special access to the co-op postings specific to their program; hence, it is crucial to check the portal on a daily basis while in the job search phase.
Step 2: Employers review applications
Students will submit their applications in the Hired portal. Employers will indicate what the applications should of consist of, which may include cover letters, resumes, grade reports or all of the above. The employer will then determine which student(s) they want to invite for an interview.
Step 3: Employers interview candidates
- Once an employer has screened and selected the candidates, there are two ways in which interviews can be conducted.
- The employer may reach out directly to co-op students to schedule interviews at their location.
- The employer may contact the Co-op office to help schedule interviews at the premises of the employer or on campus. Once the interview schedule has been made, the Co-op office will contact students with all of the details.
In any case, students must be prepared to respond to interview offers via phone or email.
Step 4: Employers make offers
- Once an employer has selected the student(s) they would like to hire, there are two ways an offer can be made:
- The employer may reach out to the successful student and make the offer.
- The employer may contact the Co-op office to extend the offer to the student.
Students must monitor phone and email to learn of their offers.
Step 5: Finalize
- Once an offer of employment has been accepted by a student, the student must present their employer with a Work Term Agreement form. This form is signed by the student, the employer, and the college. It will be kept on file in the Co-op office.
Pay rates for co-op vary depending on your program of study, your employer, and the scope of your work term role.
Each work term is 12 to 14 weeks. You are expected to work full-time hours aligned with industry standards. There may be shift work or weekend work required.
The co-op job search process simulates a real life job search and you will have the freedom to apply to the companies where your interests are aligned. You will not be matched with employers by the Co-op office. You must apply to co-op positions, attend interviews and accept the offer that is best for you.
All students transferred to the co-operative education (co-op) option will be charged an administrative fee of $475 for each work term. This fee will be assessed to your student account during an academic semester. The co-op fee is only refundable during the first 10 days of the academic semester in which the fee is charged. This is not a "placement" fee, meaning you are not guaranteed to be hired for a co-op position. The fee gives you access to all services administered by the Co-op office, which are in place to assist you in your co-op job search.
- Recruiting potential employers, developing jobs and expanding industry networks.
- Developing promotional materials and individual program brochures.
- Participating in trade shows and professional organizations.
- Developing and overseeing online information sessions and student admissions and transfer processes.
- Facilitating student application and selection processes including posting job vacancies.
- Coaching students in individual job search appointments.
- Enhancing various job search resources and tools on the Hired portal.
- Verifying job opportunities.
- Co-ordinating employer information sessions, employer interviews on and off campus and facilitating job offers.
- Maintaining co-op student and employer database records.
- Interacting with faculty, executive deans and associate deans about student or employer concerns and providing mediation as appropriate.
- Monitoring co-op student work terms, including work site visits.
- Collecting student work term reflection reports and employer feedback forms.
- Leading student and employer debriefing sessions.
- Verifying work terms and issuing supporting documentation for the employer’s Co-operative Education Tax Credit.
- Providing industry feedback to academic divisions for curriculum and program planning through participating in activities such as Program Advisory Committee meetings.
- Continually improving policies and procedures related to the functioning of co-op.
- Apply to jobs through the Hired portal and apply to other postings online.
- Network with existing and new contacts to try to arrange your own job.
- Visit the Co-op office to help you improve and develop effective job search and interview skills.