Despite the pandemic, University of Guelph co-op students had a higher employment rate than the national average over both the summer and the fall, and the University’s Co-operative Education and Career Services aims to keep that momentum going through the fall.
Many co-op students have made the shift to work from home for their work placements this year. Others, such as engineering and science students, are working on-site at businesses that have reopened or that are considered essential services, said Colleen Myronyk, associate director of co-operative education and work-integrated-learning.
“We’ve been so impressed with co-op students’ ability to adjust to the current changing times,” said Myronyk. “Many of these students did not expect to work from home, but they’ve been eager to adapt in order to secure coveted work positions in fields they love.”
At the same time, the co-op office itself has had to make changes quickly in order to provide guidance and resources to students about how to work from home, how to succeed in video conference job interviews or how to maintain balance while working from home.
They’ve also been assisting work placement supervisors about how to bring on co-op students who will work from home, as well as letting prospective employers know that U of G students are ready to get back to work.
“Employers can hire students from more than 40 co-op programs, including business, engineering, computing, science and the arts,” said Myronyk. “We have a talented pool of co-op students available to be hired for the winter semester, and we are looking forward to assisting with job posting and interviews set to begin soon.”
Elaine Fenner, director of experiential learning, said co-op students not only gain valuable employment experience while in work placements but also learn skills needed for the challenges of the new digital economy.
“U of G has long had a commitment to experiential learning by forming connections with industry and community partners, which is how we are able to help students find these opportunities so they can truly improve life by translating knowledge into action,” she said.
All the University’s usual networking events and career fairs have moved online, including the large Experience Guelph events, offering employers and students opportunities to meet one another in large groups or one-on-one through video conference.
Having the events online doesn’t just mimic the experience of an in-person fair — it might improve on them, said Sinead Artem, marketing lead for co-op and career services.
“With the online model, we aren’t restricted by building space,” said Artem. “Companies can present to as many students as they like, and students who aren’t even in Guelph can participate from the comfort of their homes. So it’s going to give us so much more flexibility.”
Three big job and career events are already scheduled for September with two more coming in October. Students hoping to attend these events can sign up for online workshops about how to network at virtual job fairs or how to succeed in a video-based job interview.
“We want students to know we always have a job board for part-time and summer jobs,” said Artem. “Many students find out about us in their fourth year and say, ‘I wish I had known this resource was here,’ but these supports and resources serve all students, all year round.”
To learn more about what the U of G student experience looks like this fall, visit the Virtual Campus page.