Finding Value in Co-operative Education Programs
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Finding Value in Co-operative Education Programs

Co-operative education, or co-op, is based on a shared relationship between a university, student and employer. Co-op students gain valuable hands-on experience in their field, while you, the employer, benefit from students’ energy, fresh ideas and hard work.

Co-op provides a flexible and cost-effective way to hire new employees—it offers employers an opportunity to gain short-term help on specific projects and effectively conduct a four-month interview with a potential job candidate. It’s also a great way to give back to your community, create a relationship with the university and become a partner in students’ education 

The University of Victoria made 2,975 co-op placements in the 2013–14 year, in sectors including arts and culture, business, engineering, science, healthcare, law and more. Sixty-four percent of those placements were with private businesses or the non-profit sector.

A Case Study: Mayfair Optometric Clinic

Mayfair Optometric Clinic opened its doors over 15 years ago. The full service eyecare provider is composed of three optometrists and nine other employees—including UVic co-op student Angela Lu, who joined the team in September.

The clinic is in its second year of hiring students, and they’ve been a resounding success. “Co-op students bring an infectious enthusiasm to the workplace,” says Mary Lou Newbold, Strategic Vision Executive and Angela’s supervisor. “They’re flexible, eager to learn and share ideas, and willing to add creatively to our organization.”

Extra Help to Accomplish Those Wish-List Projects

Angela’s focus at Mayfair has been human resources. Her projects have included, coordinating the upcoming company retreat, designing new employee contracts and updating the company policy manual. She’s been especially instrumental in implementing an online employee scheduler system, and Mary Lou has been impressed with her ability to research, compile and present data. “Without Angela’s research and well-written comparison report, this task would have been stalled,” she says.

Community Engagement

Mayfair Optometric Clinic’s founder, Dr. Stephen Taylor, was born and raised in Victoria and has been practicing there for over 27 years. Mayfair sees the co-op program as a great way to give back to the community and promote growth for everyone.

“Any time you have someone in a learning situation on your team, others learn as well,” says Mary Lou. “We take our commitment to the students seriously and make sure we have quality learning opportunities for them—and we find that we never run out of projects for them to do!” 

Good Business Sense

Mary Lou finds that working with the UVic co-op program keeps the company moving forward and accountable for projects and deadlines, as well as an efficient way to hire for short-term projects and add a shot of enthusiasm to the company culture. “For a small business like ours, hiring a co-op student makes good fiscal sense,” she says. “There is no greater affirmation of our skill set, our reputation and our cohesiveness than to have a student join us and share their passion.”

Learn More About Co-operative Education

To learn about the UVic Co-operative Education Program and how a co-op student can contribute to your workplace, visit uvic.ca/hireacoop or email employer@uvic.ca. To post a position, please visit learninginmotion.uvic.ca. 

About UVic Co-op Program

The University of Victoria's Co-operative Education Program and Career Services supports students and alumni as they develop their career pathways. Employers can connect with UVic by attending career fairs and employer information sessions; by posting full-time, part-time and casual positions to learninginmotion.uvic.ca, and by hiring UVic co-op students to contribute to their workplace.