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Six Reasons to Hire a Co-Op Student

Between artificial intelligence, automation, and hybrid or remote work, the way we work has changed.

You may be considering what talent you’ll need to support your organizations for the year ahead. Cooperative education is one of the best and most economical ways organizations can prepare for success.


Although co-op can be an excellent way to engage with talent, not all organizations recognize the immediate or long-term benefits of bringing students into their workforce. Here are six benefits of hiring a co-op student:


  1. Co-op reduces hiring risk: While co-op terms typically last 12 – 16 weeks, employers can rehire students for future terms or hire them permanently after graduation. The short-term commitment of the co-op work term enables employers to train students, evaluate specific skills, and identify any additional talent they might need for the future.


  1. Co-op attracts emerging talent to the community: According to William Mazhar, an Environmental Engineering co-op student who worked for the County of Bruce and the Region of Peel, “Students are willing to travel for the right opportunity.” For Mazhar, that meant relocating to Southampton for his winter work term with the County of Bruce. “There were a lot of opportunities to grow and learn new things, which is why I accepted the position even though it’s a little far from home and even from Waterloo.”


  1. Co-op is an affordable way to hire and invest back into your organization: Organizations that participated in hiring co-op students from the University of Waterloo saw an average return of $2 for every $1 invested in co-op talent. With current Government of Canada fundingorganizations can cover up to 70% of a student’s salary. Paired with additional tax credits and grants, co-op is a cost-effective way of getting projects started and completed.


  1. Co-op students bring a fresh and diverse perspective: Coming from a learning environment, co-op students can help find innovative solutions to existing problems. In the workplace, they bring technical knowledge and a fresh perspective. Students also come from diverse backgrounds, with many having lived and worked around the world. Their lived experience offers insights and perspectives that can bring different cultural points of view, which can be critical for organizations that want to diversify their thinking.


  1. Co-op students have hybrid skills: The next generation of talent is the first generation to grow up embedded in technology since birth. But, to succeed, today’s talent must bring both human-centered and technical skills to the workplace. Co-op students learn soft skills through their combined academic and work experience. They also offer strong communication skills, critical thinking, and adaptability. They’re technologically savvy and provide relevant perspectives to current trends and cultural events, which can help organizations grow their brands.


  1. Co-op students are a fit for nearly any department: At the University of Waterloo, more than 120 programs from across six faculties offer co-op components. So, whether you’re looking for support in human resources, environmental and city planning, accounting, or marketing, there are students and programs with the qualifications and experience to work in nearly every department.


Interested in testing the water by hiring a co-op student? To get started, send an email to Jideofor Ahaneku;, the University of Waterloo’s business developer based in Ottawa.