A Character Sketch

The Co-op Student

Co-op students are high achievers (required to maintain a minimum grade point average) and are committed to becoming superior performers in the labour force (have committed to a five year degree program designed to enhance their educational experience and maximize their employability skills). This drive will also translate into their day to day activities. They are highly motivated to contribute to your bottom line, they like added responsibility and value every learning opportunity awarded them.

Along with these trademark characteristics, it is also important to note some key differences. The knowledge base of junior students on their first and second work terms will consist of the core principles and concepts defining their specific disciplines. They will have had the opportunity to develop their understanding in these areas and communicate it both in written and oral form. Generally speaking, they may not have had experience working in a professional setting over an extended period of time, and would, therefore, gain greatly by being introduced to the numerous forms of communication employed in the work place. Some examples of this include observing and contributing in meetings where appropriate and presenting deliverables to work colleagues.

Senior students on their third or fourth work term will have moved beyond their foundation courses and will be studying in classes that are more complex and specialized in nature. Their knowledge and understanding of the workplace will also be more comprehensive. They will be familiar with the social norms governing interpersonal communication and hierarchy for example, and will want to hone these skills. Workplace learning opportunities appropriate for students at this level would include being regular contributors in meetings and collaborating in different groups on different projects.

Masters students, in particular, are most curious and interested in contributing at their highest possible level of function. Having completed an  undergraduate degree, and now dedicated to becoming experts or “masters” in their field of study, their drive and motivation is paramount. Their primary goal is directed not only at providing your organization with the expertise and necessary dedication required, but also at providing added value to  everything to which they have had the opportunity to contribute. Master’s level students value responsibility and work best when they are able to take ownership of their work. Contributing to the strategic thinking, evaluation and analysis of policy issues is a prime example of the work these students aim to do.