Why Co-op? Here Are Seven Reasons

5 March 2021

Did you know
that you can get paid while earning credits towards your school credential through
Co-operative Education (frequently called “co-op”) and Work Integrated Learning? It’s an effective way to gain exposure AND experience towards your chosen program of study, and also helps you become more employable upon graduation.

Co-op Education and Work Integrated Learning consists of alternating academic and paid work terms. The work term provides experience in a workplace setting related to the field of study. Work terms generally start in January, May or September and last for approximately four to eight months.  

FACT: There are over 500 hundred post-secondary programs in B.C.  offering a co-op component.

Here are seven reasons to co-op:

1.     Take the opportunity to try out your career first before graduation 

By participating in a co-op placement, you’ll get a better understanding if this particular career is for you. You may find aspects that you like or dislike and/or other areas that you may want to explore further. It’s a peek into your future. You’ll have the opportunity to either continue on your original path or change it up by looking at other available options.

2.     Apply your classroom learning to real-life situations 

By applying your classroom learning in the workplace, you’ll soon realize how it benefits you in your professional life. For instance, if you are studying communications, you’ll have the opportunity during your co-op to put your writing skills to work and to the test!  

3.     Develop practical workplace skills

Work with your supervisor to ensure you have opportunity to strengthen the skills you have and/or want to improve upon, as well as develop new ones. There may be skills you were not aware of that are valuable to your professional and personal development. It will also give you more confidence when applying and interviewing for jobs.

4.     Gain career-related work experience 

Employers value prior work experience in the applicable field of study/industry over solely having academic credentials. You become a much more rounded applicant once you have experience in your respective field. A co-op placement allows you to gain relevant work experience, which can increase your chances to a better outcome of future employment.

5.    Create a network of supports

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know … Is there truth to that? It’s both! A co-op placement gives you the opportunity to establish and build connections in the workplace that are valuable for networking opportunities, as well as for receiving referrals and references for future employment.  A co-op placement can ensure you position yourself in an employable situation after graduation. 

6.     Develop your professional behaviour    

Professional behaviour, such as honesty, respect, integrity and a positive workplace attitude is important in any business or workplace setting and is helpful in your transition from school to the workforce. Co-op terms can teach you how to conduct yourself on the job, giving your best at all times, while creating your own high standards of work habits.

7.     Get paid while you work.  

A co-op work term can help with your education and living costs.   

As an added bonus, there may also be grants available to co-op students. For instance, securing a co-op with the Province of B.C., you could be eligible for a Pacific Leaders Tuition Grants for Co-op Employees, which reimburses your co-op tuition fees (up to a max. of $1,000.00). 

Check out what previous co-op students are saying about their co-operative education experience. 
For more information and next steps, visit: www.workbc.ca/co-op