1. Prior to Start Date
- As soon as possible after you have hired the student, contact him/her directly to confirm in writing the details of the job offer including the start and end date, specified location, salary, specifics of health coverage and to acquire any information necessary to complete a background check and/or security clearance (if necessary).
- Advise the student about issues of confidentiality and arrange for any nondisclosure agreements to be signed.
- Have the student documented with your Human Resources department including completing any necessary payroll information.
- Workplace Insurance: Students on a co-op work term are considered employees of your organization and need to be covered by your Workplace Insurance.
- Ensure the workspace is ready, including computer and phone set-up, network access, keys, security passes, stationary and any reference manuals or directories they may need.
- Inform the student’s co-workers and other staff members about the student’s arrival.
- Inquire about any necessary accommodation with respect to visible or non-visible disabilities.
- Offer the student some pre-work term reading to help him/her to adapt and integrate more easily.
Planning and Preparation
- Do not underestimate the ability of your student to ‘get up to speed’ quickly. Plan to have additional projects that your student can work on, should s/he complete allotted work ahead of schedule.
- Think about the additional skills students would need to work in your industry that they may not have the opportunity to develop in their courses at university. For example, bring students to meetings in order to help them develop professional communication and networking skills and learn about meeting dynamics. Arrange for written and/or oral presentations, and elaborate on the importance of corporate culture and individual fit.
- The student will need to submit a work term report at the end of the term, and will likely approach you to discuss the report. Students must
follow the report guidelines outlined on Carleton’s CULearn site.
- View yourself as a mentor, or appoint someone, who can provide students with practical advice on their long term career objectives including skills development, membership in professional associations and current industry trends.
- Depending on your student’s work/study sequence, there is a possibility that s/he will be job-searching and interviewing for his/her next work term during the work term with your organization. Students are required to attend all interviews to which they are invited; however, they are expected to manage their job search and interview activities with their commitment to your organization. Please contact our office if your student’s job-search activities are interfering with their ability to do their work.
2. Within the First Week
Provide an orientation to your organization. This orientation should include physical layout, an introduction to the team, the student’s supervisor (if other than you) and who will assign work. It would be appropriate for students to also be aware of any other key contacts within the organization including other co-op students, and be provided with an overview of relevant regulations, expectations and procedures such as:
- The reporting structure within the team and procedure for the notification of any absences from work;
- Work hours, breaks, lunch, overtime, and flexibility in start/end time; dress code;
- Review all appropriate health and safety policies/issues; and
- Have the student complete all necessary payroll information (if not already completed).
Overview of Student Responsibilities and Deliverables
Provide the student with a copy of their job description along with any performance targets that you may have. Set clear expectations regarding performance, responsibilities and priorities.
In your discussions of the work/responsibilities assigned, be sure to frame these within the context of your unit’s objectives, as this will help students to understand their role and how their work fits into the broader picture of your organizational goals. Teach about the necessity of being flexible – business needs may change, and these changes could impact the work that they do. Articulate the importance of asking questions and clarifying any priorities and deadlines, and provide training on any in-house software/technology the student may be required to use throughout the work term.
Define Learning Objectives
Although not a program requirement, defining learning objectives with your student will assist in maximizing performance by ensuring his/her goals are in line with the work you expect him/her to perform. Having gained insight into the student’s work term objectives, you may also be able to adjust aspects of the role so that it further enhances the student’s key abilities and interests. See Appendix -A for further information on work term learning objectives.
The Work Term Report
In order to complete the academic component of their work term and receive credit, students must submit a work term report to their academic department for evaluation at the end of their work term. One essential employment skill is the ability to communicate one’s work to others in the form of report writing, and the work term report is intended to provide students with this opportunity. A work term report has a dual purpose: it is intended to present the relevant aspects of the student’s work and contributions, as well as have students relate and reflect upon their academic courses to their current experience.
Writing the work term report is solely the student’s responsibility; however, as the supervisor, you will need to provide the student with guidance early in the work term, if applicable, so as to exclude any confidential information. In addition, any constructive feedback you have on the quality of the completed report as it relates to your field would also be of benefit to the student.
In the last month of the work term, you will need to review the student’s work term report before it is submitted to the University and release it to the University for grading. Work term reports are to be written so as to not include any proprietary information. Please see #5 for guidelines around this process.
3. Throughout the Work Term
Progress Reports and Feedback
- Ask students to provide you with weekly status reports detailing their progress, and plan to meet with them regularly to discuss it along with their overall workload, learning objectives and performance. Be constructive, providing feedback on both strengths and areas where the students can improve. Clarify your expectations and what their deliverables should look like.
Additional Skills Development
- Include students in meetings and encourage their contributions when appropriate.
- Encourage students to recommend ways of approaching assigned projects and discuss the pros and cons of the students’ recommendations.
- Encourage students to attend learning events such as brown bag lunches and training sessions.
- Assign additional responsibility as appropriate.
4. Mid-point of Work Term
- Approximately mid-way through the work term, a Co-op staff member will contact you and/or your student to arrange a site visit or check in via email. This is an opportunity to discuss the student’s progress, provide feedback, and share any concerns.
- If you are thinking that you would like to extend your student for another term, the site visit/check-in would be an appropriate time to discuss this option with the student and the Co-op staff member.
5. In the Last Month
Work Term Report Release
Review the student’s work term report before s/he submits it online for grading. The student will complete the Work Term Report Release form on your behalf, checking off the appropriate statement.
Please note: Work term reports are NOT to include any proprietary information. If you consider the content of the report to be confidential and cannot release the report, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm this.
Work Term Evaluation
Complete an online Work Term Evaluation of the student’s performance during the work term. Please discuss it with the student prior to submitting it online to the Co-op Office.
- Be sure to collect any company items from students including security pass, keys, and any electronic equipment they may have used.
- Students are at once valuable employees, on-campus ambassadors, sources for future student employees and important components of your marketing strategy. Conducting an exit interview with your students is a great way to obtain feedback on their experience and enhance future co-op work terms.