National Co-op Week at Brock highlights successful students

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Last week, Brock’s Co-op Department celebrated some of the best and brightest of their alumni. Beginning on March 19, the Co-op Education and Experiential Education team took part in the Canada-wide National Co-op and WIL Week with a variety of activities and events. The week is administered by Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada.

CEWIL offers a comprehensive list of co-op programs across Canada, and according to their missions statement, they work to “foster and advance post-secondary co-operative education and work-integrated learning in Canada”.

“CEWIL Canada members from 88 post-secondary institutions  across the country have worked in partnership since 1973 to develop resources to promote the highest quality of post-secondary Co-operative Education Programs,” said Julia Zhu, Associate Director of Co-op Education at Brock.

“This is achieved through a national forum of professional co-op practitioners by establishing national standards and promoting the value of post-secondary Co-operative Education; and by delivering opportunities for learning and sharing of best practices.”

On Monday, March 19, Co-op alumni at Brock were invited to take place in the ‘Tweet for a treat!’ event, where Co-op students were asked to share why they chose Co-op degrees for their education on social media. March 20 saw a similar social media-focused contest, where participants were asked to send in a question to Brock’s Co-op team. Also on March 20, the office hosted a closed employer panel event for graduate students who are enrolled in the Co-op Education Professional Preparation Course. March 21 had the program host a business card draw, as well as an employer ‘mock interview’ for accounting students. March 22 had the highest attended event of the week, with the Co-op Recognition and Celebration Luncheon taking place on campus.

Finally, to round off the week on March 23, the Co-op office created a post-it board where students could share skills they wanted to develop, employers they wanted to work with and career aspirations.

The Co-op office also used the week as a platform to highlight some of the incredible achievements made by students in Co-op from various disciplines. Two students this year were chosen as the ‘Co-op Students of the Year’. Meghan Birbeck, a second year Masters of Sustainability student who graduated from Brock’s Bachelors of Arts in Tourism and Environment program in 2016, is currently pursuing her second work term as part of her Co-op degree. Birbeck works with the town of Lincoln as a sustainability intern, and according to the Co-op office, has been instrumental in the implementation of uLinc, a public transit pilot program in the municipality.

Jacob Berec was also awarded the prestigious honor. Berec is a fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Business Administration program at Brock, he pursued a work term with RBC Caribbean Digital team last summer.

Currently, the Co-op office at Brock offers a total of 40 Co-op programs to students. Undergraduate students who enroll in the Co-op program are offered a minimum of 12 months of “relevant work experience”, and a total of 15 per cent of full-time undergrads at Brock are Co-op students. According to a survey conducted by Leger Marketing for Universities Canada in 2014, a total of 80 per cent of employers claim that Co-op students hired to work for their organizations are potential future employees.

“Our plan is to strengthen the quality of co-op programs we offer at Brock, including structure of the programs admission and continuation standard to co-op, professional code of conduct of our students, and employer base,” Zhu explained. “We are committed to students’ success. We try our best to build individual connection with our co-op students who are actively engaged in the program. We know our students more than just by their names —for a typical undergraduate co-op student, we start to actively work with them in their second year during the Co-op Professional Preparation Course. From there, we work closely with them almost every semester for the rest of their time at Brock.”

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