Co-op at Dalhousie is first and foremost an academic endeavour, integrating work experience into the student’s study program. Co-op employers participate as partners and co-educators, which is demonstrated through active involvement in the student’s work term experience. The relationship between the co-op program and the employer is guided by, but not limited to, the responsibilities recommended by Co-operative Education & Work Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada.
Role of the co-op employer
- Serve as supervisor and co-educator through active involvement in the student’s work term learning experience and by providing challenging career-oriented work experience
- Provide and pay a fair, competitive wage (see Salary information listed on each program page)
- Set goals and objectives for the work term with the student and conduct periodic performance evaluation interviews during the work term to discuss the student's progress
- Provide regular direction and feedback to ensure that the student is working to your expectations
- Treat students in the same way as other employees in matters of rules, regulations and discipline
- Contact the Co-op Office if there is a problem with the student (i.e. attendance, quality of work, etc.)
Recruitment / before the work term
Provide the Co-op Office with a detailed job description with appropriate content for the co-op student’s program of study in the faculties of Science, Computer Science and / or Engineering. Job postings will be screened by the Co-op Office to ensure alignment with program educational objectives.
Interview qualified applicants either on campus, at your site or by telephone / teleconference.
Formally communicate offers of employment through the Co-op Office, specifying the terms of employment including the student’s salary, vacation pay, employment status, relocation (if applicable) and start and end dates. Students must be hired as employees of the organization (not as contractors/consultants).
Provide a work term that consists of a four-month period, at least 14 weeks in duration, with a minimum of 35 hours per week (or equivalent) as determined by the university.
See also: How to hire a co-op student
At the beginning of the work term
Orientation to the workplace
- Integrate co-op students into their new role
- Review organizational structure, objectives and reporting relationships
- Provide a tour of the facility and introduce the student to staff
- Conduct requisite safety, OHS and environmental briefings as required
- Set expectations by reviewing job duties, responsibilities and specific tasks
- Review and support the student's learning objectives
Goals for the work term
Set expectations by reviewing job duties, responsibilities and assigned tasks. Discussing goals and objectives during orientation sets the tone for the work term and clarifies expectations and learning opportunities. Setting work and learning goals allows the student to know what is expected on the job, and the employer to understand the student's career interests and expected learning outcomes.
Equipment and resources
- Provide an adequate workstation, access to necessary supplies and equipment, and any necessary training for the operation of equipment
- Discuss emergency, fire and safety protocol and safe operation procedures
- Enable access to information services including email, internet, data systems, etc.
- Establish and confirm understanding of organizational policies (e.g. core working hours, dress code, sick days, use of social media at work)
- Discuss salary and benefits as well as overtime and time off
- Identify and address potential issues surrounding proprietary information or confidentiality
- Address the use of corporate assets including vehicles, cell phones, internet, etc.
During the work term
Near the middle of the work term, the Co-op Office arranges a worksite visit with both the employer and the student to be conducted in-person, by telephone or teleconference. The visit allows the Co-op Office to assess the kinds and quality of learning, enable the student to reflect on their progress and gather employer feedback on the student's performance and the program. Senior students have the option of completing an online reflection exercise in lieu of a worksite visit; in this case, supervisors are required to complete a brief online survey. Select senior students may be required to participate in a worksite visit based on student or employer feedback.
Supporting co-op student academic requirements
For each four-month work term (including consecutive work terms in the same position) a student must receive a passing grade for their Work Term Report and/or any additional requirements specified by the student’s academic department. Co-op employers must support their students in meeting their work term academic requirements by helping them choose a report topic (when required) and by providing technical guidance where appropriate. Please note that academic requirements may vary according to the student’s academic discipline. It is the student’s responsibility to understand the academic requirements that apply and convey any needs to their employer supervisor.
General liability coverage and safety
Maintain comprehensive general liability coverage appropriate to their operations including Employer's Liability. Co-op students are to be covered by Worker's Compensation in accordance with the employer's operations and government regulations for the region, province or country of employment. Employers must maintain a work place which adheres to legislated occupational health and safety policies.
Harassment and discrimination
Have and abide by discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment policies and procedures. Students who feel they are being discriminated against or harassed have been advised to contact the Co-op Office immediately.
End of Term Performance Appraisal
Students’ final work term grades depend on their co-op employer’s final performance appraisal. Before the end of each four-month work term, a secure link to complete the online appraisal form is emailed directly to the co-op supervisor. Supervisors must complete the appraisal and review it with the student before the end of the work term.
Please see our Co-op Student Handbook for complete details.
Co-op Office responsibilities
- Provide equal services to all students and employers
- Ensure that work terms are suitable learning experiences for students
- Accommodate employers' reasonable requests for job posting, interview space, and presentation facilities
- Provide students with accurate information on all recruiting employers
- Follow Dalhousie University’s policies and standards in providing student information to employers
- Notify employers of any hiring limitations before they conduct interviews
- Inform students, employers, and other interested parties of our policies and procedures
- Comply with all provincial and federal freedom of information, human rights, and employment legislation
- The university does not guarantee employment for students or recruitment success for employers