PBD Co-op Students Questions and Answers

What is Co-operative Education?

Co-operative Education utilizes learning partnerships between the university, employer, and student. Work experiences are relevant to the student's career and academic goals. Students can alternate full time paid work term with their academic studies. In addition, to the work terms, students also complete professional development training prior to starting their work terms. The professional development training reviews topics that will help students be successful in the program. While on work term, students complete work term assignments and are monitored/evaluated by the work term supervisor and Co-op Coordinator. Students apply and further develop the knowledge and skills they have acquired in their degree program, and are more confident and prepared to enter the workforce. 

What are the benefits of the program?

Participants will:

  • Apply academic theory gained in the classroom in a structured work setting.
  • Gain four months of relevant paid professional experience.
  • Get hands-on training and exposure with the emerging technologies and methods in your field.
  • Clarify career plans and preferred working style. Get exposure to industry options such as corporate, government, non-for profit, and research and development.
  • Become well informed about professional etiquette, business culture, and business communications.
  • Continuously evaluate your own skills, abilities, and knowledge: learn how to promote yourself confidently to an employer.
  • Build business contacts and networking skills to assist in finding employment upon graduation.

How does Co-op work?

Co-operative education utilizes experiential learning partnerships between the university and employer to provide students with opportunities for relevant, paid employment while completing academic studies. The three components of the program include professional development seminars, work term, and a capstone course. After students complete their work term, they return to STFX to complete their academic studies and the capstone course.  

Students must be registered and complete 12 credits per term in the full academic year to be considered for, and to remain in, the Co-operative Education Program. Once in the program, students will complete the two professional development seminars in the fall. PBD Co-op students will work in the summer semester after the first year. PBD Co-op students must achieve 60% in their academic courses, maintain a minimum overall average of 70% throughout their diploma program is required for students who join and remain in the program.

How do I apply to the program?

Once PBD students have confirmed that they will be attending StFX, the Co-op office will email students in July information about the program and a deadline to apply in the fall. Students who are accepted to the Co-op Education program must start their PBD program in September. Students who start their academic program in January are not eligible for Co-op. 

What are Professional Development Seminars (COOP 500 and COOP 501)?

Students complete mandatory non-credit co-op courses before going on work terms. The courses are designed to increase students’ success in the program and help students locate and secure work term. Students can register for the seminars the same as how they register for their regular courses. The content covered in the seminars assist students with learning essential workplace skills and job search preparation that students will use throughout their working life. The seminar themes are taught using lecture, independent reading, small and large group activities, and debriefing activities. 

Co-op Work Term (COOP 510)

The work term must occur in the summer after the first year and can only be four months in length.

Like other university co-op programs, while on the work term, students complete various assignments that help facilitate learning and reflection. Assignments include learning objectives, worksite evaluation, reflective essay, and student performance evaluation. A worksite evaluation helps the program, the student and the employer gauge how the work term is progressing. It is a valuable assignment that contributes to student learning. The work site evaluation contributes to student learning as we help students to reflect on their competencies, ability to work within a professional environment, and identify key learnings. Co-op work terms are paid and full time. Pay ranges over the last year have been $15-$25/ hr for a minimum of 35 hrs/wk, minimum number of weeks within a four month semester, 13.  

The co-op work term is 3 credits (additive to your degree) and are pass/fail. To pass a work term course, you must achieve a rating of at least satisfactory for your work term performance as evaluated by your employer, and at least a satisfactory for your work term assignments (learning objectives, work site evaluation, final performance evaluation, reflective essay) that are submitted to the Co-op Office. If you fail a work term, the Co-op Office will review your eligibility to remain in the Co-op program. 

COOP 530 (capstone course)

Students return to the academic setting after the employment experience to share their work experience with co-op peers. After completion of the work term, students return to campus and enroll in Co-op 530. Co-op 530 consists of a formal group debrief and presentation.  Students complete COOP 530 in September of second year.

What is my role (student) in the Program?

The Co-op Program wants students to think of Co-op as an academic course that requires time and effort. Co-op has times where the workload is minimal. However, when students are looking to secure a work term, the workload tends to increase. Once the student secures a work term, the Co-op workload will become minimal until you begin your work term. Your success in the program is dependent upon your level of involvement. You will get more out of your Cooperative Education experience, the more you commit to the program. Attending the non-credit co-op courses, incorporating what you are learning into your co-op work term search, and polishing your own employability will increase your success. Students must personally balance their academic commitments at all-time in the program. This program is competitive, rigorous and requires extra time and effort in addition to your degree requirements. Co-op staff are here to help and support. We have seen many students who have achieved their career and educational goals while enrolled in the Co-op Education program. 

What is the Co-op staff's role? 

The Co-op Office provide day-to-day program support and oversight. The Co-op Office’s function is to facilitate and evaluate the learning process and to develop employment opportunities for students. The Co-op Office works with students to help prepare them with pre-employment training, reviews letters of offers, and works with employers to build approved work term opportunities for students. Additionally, the Co-op Office also ensures that both the student and the employer are having a productive work term. If an issue does arise, the Co-op Office works with both the student and the employer to find a solution. The Co-op Office works to ensure the integrity of the Co-op program and all of its stakeholders, including our co-op students and employers.   

Co-op Education is more than just work experience. Each StFX Co-op program component from the seminars to the work term to COOP 530, assists students with building their competencies, career goals,  and reflection skills. Monitoring and evaluating a student's work term performance provides an exceptional learning opportunity for the student. 

What does the co-op job search process look like?

The Co-op office will collaborate with employers to advertise jobs. We receive jobs throughout the year. All jobs that are posted by the Co-op office have been reviewed by office staff to ensure the jobs meet our co-op work term requirements. All co-op jobs are advertised via our General Co-op Moodle page which all co-op students have access. The Co-op staff will post job title & season, job description, how to apply, and deadline to apply information. Students must review the co-op job board on a daily basis when in an active job search. The Co-op Coordinator may notify co-op students by email that there is an increase in job postings being advertised. Students must apply for jobs before the posted deadline. It is very rare for an employer to accept a late application. Typically, the Co-op  office receives jobs 4-6 months in advance of when the job starts. As an example, if a student was looking to start a work term in May, they would need to start looking for the role as early as December with the job search ramping up in January and February. 

Can co-op students arrange their own co-operative work terms?

Yes. Students have successfully secured their own employment. However, the Co-op office must approve the job before it will be considered a co-op work term. Students must submit the job description and letter of offer to the Co-op Office ASAP. If the role doesn't meet our requirements, we will work with the employer to address the concerns.  The Co-op Office will also advertise numerous jobs from employers with whom we have developed partnerships. We have many "repeat" employers who love to hire StFX Co-op students. 

What are the limitations of the program?

The following are identified limitations:

  • The Co-op Program requires additional time and effort. Attending the non-credit courses, completing assignments, applying for work terms, and interviews can increase students’ workload. However, the skills you learn in Co-op will assist with future job searching and career goal setting. 
  • The Co-op staff does not guarantee work term placements. Job searching is competitive and the professional development seminars teach students how to be successful in the job search. We have the expertise to help students be successful. 
  • The Program requires flexibility and adaptability. Often students need to be flexible and understanding when applying to co-op positions or participating in interviews. 
  • Students must be aware that securing a work term can be stressful, interviews and commencement of employment offers can occur on short notice. Co-op students need to be flexible and accommodating.

Why do students join?

Students join because they make the decision to begin the transition from student to professional. Students learn about themselves through the program requirements, by sharing experiences with other co-op students, and through access to related events. They become informed of different career options available in their field of study, learn to effectively job search, as well as market their education, skills, and experience. Students build professional networks and portfolios that will assist with finding the right employment after graduation. Students can earn money to help offset educational costs. Finally, the StFX Co-op Education program is one of the few universities in Canada that assigns academic credit for Co-op completion. PBD Co-op students will earn 3 credits.  Co-op PBD students will complete their degree and co-op  (total 51 credits). The credits associated with Co-op are not included in the credit count of the program.  

Do I have to work in Antigonish?

No. The Co-op Program receives positions from across Canada. There are very few IT-related co-op roles in Antigonish. Co-op students should expect to relocate for their co-op work term. 

How much money can I earn? 

How much a student gets paid while completing a co-op work term will vary (role, location, industry, the number of work terms, and etc). However, over the last year, we have had students make between $18/hr to $30/hr.  Our co-op students work a minimum of 35 hrs/wk for a minimum of 13 weeks in a semester.  In a four-month work term, working a 35 hr/wk for 13 weeks a student can make between $7350 to $14,700 before deductions. 

How much will it cost?

Co-op Programs across Canada will set up their fee schedule differently. At StFX our primary reason for setting fees as a "pay as you go" system was to spread co-op fees over a period of time as students complete the various program components. Students should not place the "dollar value" as it relates to seminars or work terms. When a student registers for a seminar or work term, the Co-op fee will be applied to their account.  For example, in the first semester, students complete two professional development seminars, your student account will be billed a total of $1200 ($600 per seminar). You don't pay for your work term until you start your work term ($500).  By the time you complete the program, you will have paid the total cost of the program ($1700).   In comparison to other university co-op program fees, our fees are not the highest nor the lowest (in the middle). 

Additionally, as the Co-op work term is 3 academic credits, in addition to the co-op work term fee, students will also pay the equivalent of 3 credit tuition and additional university fees. 

Students' accounts will be charged once registered in each seminar as co-op fees are tied to the seminars and work terms. To see when fees are due, visit StFX Student Accounts. Our Co-op fees are in the middle range when comparing us to other Canadian university co-op programs. Students should not associate a "dollar value" to the seminar or work term based on the fee. This is how the institution decided to allocate co-op fees.

What does the Co-op fee cover? 

Your co-op fees cover the administration of the co-op program including, but not limited to the following: professional development sessions prior to your first co-op work term; personalized job search assistance, job prep toolkit, interview preparation, mock interviews; worksite visits and ongoing mediation of unsatisfactory work term situations; post-co-op work term debriefing; development of job opportunities; access to the co-op job board; interview space; facilitation of job offers; recognition programs; and networking opportunities. 

What is a Social Insurance Number (SIN)?

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a 9 digit number that you need to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits.  A SIN is issued to one person only and it cannot legally be used by anyone else.  Students can apply for their SIN once they begin their studies at STFX.  Additional information about SIN, visit the following Government of Canada website . 

Additional questions about the Post-Bac Diploma Co-op Education program, please email: spower@stfx.ca.