Undergraduate Students FAQ

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 up to 16 months of relevant, full time, paid professional experience.
  • Get hands-on training and exposure to the emerging technologies and methods in your field.
  • Clarify career plans and preferred working style. Get exposure to industry options such as corporate, government, not-for-profit, and research and development.
  • Become well informed about professional etiquette, organizational culture, and work place communications.
  • Continuously evaluate your own skills, abilities, and knowledge: learn how to promote yourself confidently to an employer.
  • Build contacts and networks to assist in finding employment upon graduation.
  • Set yourself apart from most university graduates – and avoid the no experience/no job cycle.
     
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 full time employment while completing academic studies. The three components of the program include professional development seminars, work terms, and COOP 405. 

Students are eligible to apply to co-op in the spring after first year (must have completed a minimum of 24 credits in first year). Third year students interested in applying to the program should meet with the Co-op Coordinator as they will be able to outline your co-op plan. Some students can complete Co-op and their degree in four years with careful academic planning. However, most students will complete Co-op and their degree in 4.5 to 5 years. Students must be registered in a minimum of 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 three professional development seminars in the fall. Most new co-op students look for their first work term in the summer. Co-op staff assists students with their job search.  

Co-op students follow the same academic program as regular students. Because of the alternating pattern of work and academic terms, there may be some differences in the scheduling of individual courses. Co-op students who have questions about their academic courses should contact the Academic Advising department. 

How do I apply to the program?

Students may apply to the program in the winter semester with a deadline date of early May. The Co-op application will open in January. Students must apply before the posted deadline to have their application considered. A minimum overall first-year average of 65% is required for students joining the program in their second year.  A minimum overall average of 70% in the second and subsequent years is required for students who join and remain in the program.

What are Professional Development Seminars?

Students complete mandatory non-credit co-op professional development courses before going on work terms. The courses are designed to increase students’ success in the program by locating and securing the right work term. Students can register for the seminars the same as how they register for their regular courses. The content covered in the seminars include reflection, career development, job search tool kit preparation, and essential work place topics. The seminar themes are taught using lecture, independent reading, small and large group activities, and debriefing activities. The first two seminars are offered online as asynchronous courses and the third seminar is in-person in September. Students must successfully pass the professional development seminars before beginning their first work term. 

Co-op Work Terms

At StFX, students must complete 3 4-month work terms. This can be completed through an alternating model or a co-op internship. Work terms are paid a competitive wage, full time (minimum 35 hrs/wk), for a minimum of 13 weeks within a four month semester. Work terms must occur in at least two of the three semesters and must be preceded and followed by an academic term. "Academic Semesters" are January to April, May to August, and September to December. This is a three-semester model. Eight-month or back-to-back work terms are acceptable as long as they are also are preceded and followed by an academic term. The 12-16 month work term is considered a Co-op Internship and must be with one employer. Typically, students will complete the internship after completing the second or third year of study. The Co-op team and Academic Advising will help you make a plan that is right for you.

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. One work site evaluation is completed for every 4 months of work. If a student is completing a 12-month co-op internship with a single employer, the student will submit new assignments and participate in work site evaluation for every four months of work (same timeline as our alternating co-op model). The work site evaluation is a valuable assignment that 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. 

Over the last couple of years, the following work term sequencing option has been popular with StFX Co-op students. The student joins in the spring after first year. The first work term is in the summer after the second year. Come back for the fall of the third year for studies. Work term 2 is in the winter of the third year. Work term 3 follows work term 2 in the summer semester. The student comes back to StFX in the fall to continue their studies full time.  The co-op internship typically starts in May or September after third year for 12 months (consecutive) with one employer.

Co-op work terms are zero credit 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, portfolio update, dream job activity update) 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 405 (3 credit course)

After successful completion of all of their work terms, students return to campus and enroll in Co-op 405 in addition to their academic courses. Co-op 405 consists of a formal group debrief, portfolio presentation, and a final paper. The purpose of Co-op 405 is to help students reflect on their total co-op experience, make connections between academics and work, and with their future career management.  If students complete their last work term in the summer, they will complete Co-op 405 in September. If a student completes their last work term in the fall, they will complete Co-op 405 in January.  

In order to complete the Co-op program, the student must also successfully complete their degree requirements. Students will receive a certificate of completion with their degree parchment at convocation. In addition, a co-op education designation will be displayed in the degree awarded section of their official transcript. 

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 Co-op Education experience, the more you commit to the program. Attending and being an active participant in 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 terms to COOP 405, 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 is the employer's role in the Co-op program? 

For a co-op work term to be successful, the co-op work term supervisor and the student must establish an effective relationship. For the majority of work terms, the student becomes an employee of the employing organization and is expected to be treated as any other temporary employee regarding benefits and other employment requirements as defined by the Employment Standards Act or a Collective Agreement. The co-op work term supervisor will advise the student regarding the organization's staffing policy, provide the co-op student with an onboarding and orientation to the workplace, and provide a supervisor who will oversee the student's work and discuss expectations for the work term and provide the student feedback as to how the student is progressing in the work term. The work term supervisor will review the student's learning objectives at the beginning of the work term, participate in a work site evaluation (mid-way of the work work term), and complete a final student performance evaluation at the end of the work term. 

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. However, for some accounting related roles, these jobs are advertised 12 months in advance of start date. Additionally, students who want to work for CSIS or CSE, will need to apply 8-12 months in advance of the job start date. 

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

Yes. Students have successfully secured their own employment; however, the Co-op Staff must approve the job before it will be considered a co-op work term. Students must submit a detailed job description and letter of offer ASAP as it can take up to two business days to process the request. If the Co-op Staff do not approve the role, we will work with the employer/organization to help them make the necessary changes so that the role will meet Co-op requirements. 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 and being an active participant in 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 terms. Job searching is competitive and the professional development seminars teach students how to be successful in the job search. In addition, the Co-op Staff will also share information that will help students craft an effective cover letter and resume. 
  • The Co-op Program requires flexibility and adaptability. Often, students need to flexible and understanding when applying to co-op positions or participating in interviews. What is happening in the labour market can affect the organization's ability to hire co-op students. 
  • 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.
  • With the 12 months of co-op work experience, for the most part, will add time to a student's degree completion.  
  • With the design of the co-op program, Co-op students often attend the X-ring ceremony and graduation with their peers in the co-op program and not with the students who they met in the first year.

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 (and learn about new roles they didn't know existed), 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. Earn 3 credits towards your degree. 

Who can apply for the StFX Cooperative Education Program?

Second or third-year students in the following disciplines:

Bachelor of Business Administration (all majors)
Bachelor of Arts, Computer Science, Economics*, and Math 
Bachelor of Science Biology, Computer Science, Economics*, Earth Science*, and Math
Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition
Bachelor of Arts and Science in Health
Bachelor of Arts and Science in Climate & Environment
 
We will gladly work with other StFX departments in order to expand the co-op program. 

 

Do I have to work in Antigonish?

No. The majority (if not all) of our Co-op students work across Canada. We have very few co-op roles in the Antigonish area. Some students have independently secured employment abroad. Please consider your ability/willingness to relocate for co-op work terms when you apply to the program. Also, when looking at co-op jobs remember to keep an open mind. Students should be willing to explore other industries or jobs. Students are strongly encouraged to utilize the Co-op Education staff's resources as we advertise fantastic co-op jobs. 

 
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 $15/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.  Unpaid roles will not be considered as co-op work terms. 
 
 
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 a "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, if you join the program in the spring and complete all three professional development seminars by the end of September, your student account will be billed a total of $1800 ($600 per seminar). You don't pay for your work term until you start your work term. COOP 405 has no co-op fee.  By the time you complete the program, you will have paid the total cost of the program ($3300).  StFX Co-op fees have not changed since 2003. In comparison to other university co-op program fees, our co-op fees are not the highest nor the lowest (in the middle). 

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.

Co-op 110 $600
Co-op 120 $600
Co-op 130 $600
Co-op 405 $0
Work term (COOP 401-COOP 403 ($500/work term) $1500
Total $3300

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. 

Does Co-op Education impact my StFX scholarship?
In May 2015, the StFX University Senate passed the following regarding Co-op students on scholarship.

Scholarship Retention Requirements: To be eligible to retain major and entrance scholarships, students must have been registered in a minimum of 24 credits during the previous academic year (with the exception of co-op students on placement) and have met the 80% average requirements.

Regulations as they apply to students in the StFX Co-op program: Students enrolled in a co-op program will not lose their eligibility to retain their scholarship as a result of their co-op placement.

Additional info:

Students enrolled in a co-op program will be eligible to retain their full-year academic scholarship in an academic year during which they are on a co-op placement, so long as they have met the normal eligibility requirements from the previous academic year. To remain eligible in subsequent years, students within a co-op program will need to maintain the appropriate average grade with the grade calculated over a minimum of 12 credits taken during the academic year the student was on a co-op placement. The grade will be calculated over a minimum of 24 credits should the placement be during the spring/summer period. Students in a co-op program will be eligible for scholarship funding for a maximum of four years.

Note: If you received a scholarship from an outside agency, please contact the agency that issued the scholarship regarding questions about co-op education and scholarship requirements.