The Science, Information Technology and Engineering Co-operative Education
Co-operative education (Co-op) in the faculties of Computer Science, Engineering and Science is based on the principle that an academic program combined with work experience in alternating terms, is relevant to and desirable for effective professional preparation. Work term employment, which varies from sector to sector and location to location, enables students to acquire experience in their areas of career interest, while academic terms are devoted primarily to fundamental and theoretical studies. These practical experiences and academic studies complement one another.
With the exception of the Bachelor of Informatics, Co-op is optional in all programs and supplementary to academic requirements of the degree. Students who wish to be considered for Co-op will be selected on the basis of academic performance and preparedness for the work environment. The minimum academic grade requirement for admission and continuation as well as the application deadlines, vary by program. See the Apply to Co-op section of the SITE Co-op website for details.
To enter and remain in Co-op, students must be in Good Standing and be eligible for admission to and/or advancement in their specialization. Students admitted into the program will register in the appropriate Co-operative education courses for each work term, and will be required to pay the Co-operative education program fees which includes a program fee for each work term and a one-time Co-op orientation course fee.
The Study/Work Sequence
The Co-op system requires students to alternate periods of study with periods of employment. The period of employment is called a work term and is normally four months in length. Study/Work term sequences vary by program. Most work terms begin in the third year. Some Engineering sequences contain one, eight-month work term. Students are expected to be enrolled full time during their study terms.
For more information on study/work sequences, please visit the Programs section of the SITE Co-op website, where each program's work term schedule is available.
Students are expected to be enrolled full time during their study terms.
Change of Study/Work Term Sequence
Students are expected to follow the sequence to which they have been assigned or as prescribed for their program. Deviation from the prescribed sequence requires the submission of a formal request, and approval from the student’s Faculty and Co-operative Education. Schedule change requests must be submitted at least one month in advance of the proposed changes, and students must be in good academic and Co-op standing. The submitted plan must outline a clear path to graduation. Students are not permitted to end their academic plan with a work term.
Study and Work Term Dates
The work term usually begins on the Monday of the first month of the term and ends the last Friday of the fourth month of the term. Start and end dates may vary depending on the needs of the Co-op employer and work term dates should be confirmed with the employer before the start of the work term.
Co-op students must work for the entire term and may not shorten its length. Work terms shorter than the expected 16 weeks of employment are approved by exception only.
Co-op Preparation – Co-op Orientation Course
The mandatory on-line Co-op Orientation course materials lead students through resources and activities to provide them with the tools to be competitive in their employment search and prepare them for a successful work term. This helps students understand the Co-op employment process and how it fits with their career development. Upon successful completion of the course, students will have the skills to:
- Identify where to find key information about Co-op education at Dalhousie University
- Prepare effective cover letters and resumes to compete for Co-op jobs
- Interview effectively
- Succeed on their first work term
- Use myCareer in their job search
- Check for interviews
- Use the ranking and matching system
The employment process is highly competitive and factors such as academic performance, skills, motivation, maturity, attitude, professional conduct, flexibility, and performance potential determine whether an employer offers a student employment.
The SITE Co-op Office builds and uses its network to find a sufficient number of work term positions for the students enrolled in a program. Still, the openly competitive nature of the hiring process, and the fact that job offers come from employers, means that no guarantee of employment can be made.
If a student does not, for reasons beyond his/her control (e.g. shortage of employment in particular sectors, unexpected cancellation of posted jobs), secure employment through an interview process administered by Co-operative Education, every effort will be made to support that student's attempt to find a suitable work experience from alternative sources. Students are expected to work closely and remain in regular contact with Co-operative Education, especially while searching for Co-op employment.
A student who neglects to apply to a suitable quantity and variety of jobs, or who impairs an interview opportunity through unprofessional conduct, will be removed from the employment process and will not be given assistance by Co-operative Education in finding employment for the next scheduled work term.
Work term employment agreements are between the student and the employer. The Dalhousie University is not a party to these agreements and assumes no financial or legal responsibility with regard to events or actions by either party that affect the employment situation for any Co-op student (e.g. layoffs, intellectual property issues, confidentiality agreements, strikes). Students are encouraged to seek whatever professional advice and/or guidance about their agreements they feel is necessary.
The University monitors work terms and records the employer’s evaluation of the student’s performance. Every Co-op student must receive a grade for every work term and may not opt out of recording, or having submitted, an evaluation of his/her work term performance.
Responsibilities of Co-operative Education, Employers, and Students are detailed in the S.I.T.E. Co-operative Education website Responsibilities section.
Employers have an obligation to provide a safe and respectful environment for all Co-op students. If a student experiences either harassment or discrimination in a Co-op workplace, the student should contact a coordinator at the SITE Co-op Office.
Similarly, issues of safety or expectations to engage in any behaviour that may pose a risk to the student’s well-being should be brought to the attention of a coordinator immediately.
Discipline and Appeals
Disciplinary action is at the discretion of Co-operative Education and/or the Faculty in which the student is enrolled. An appeal process for students provides that disciplinary decisions made by Co-operative Education, either alone or in consultation with the student’s appropriate Examinations/Standings and Promotions Committee or Faculty Associate Dean, may be reviewed or appealed at the request of the student.
Co-operative Education Degree Designation
Graduates completing the Co-op Program requirements will receive a "Co-operative" degree designation. Co-op Program registration and work term requirements can be found on the SITE Co-operative Education website. Work term reports, also a requirement of a Co-operative degree designation, are administered by your faculty.
The Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE)
Dalhousie University is a member of the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE). The SITE Co-op Programs adhere to the following CAFCE definition of co-operative education:
- Each work situation is developed and/or approved by the Co-operative Educational institution as a suitable learning situation.
- The Co-operative student is engaged in productive work rather than merely observing.
- The Co-operative student receives remuneration for the work performed.
- The Co-operative student's progress on the job is monitored by the Co-operative Educational institution.
- The Co-operative student's performance on the job is supervised and evaluated by the student's Co-operative employer.
- The time spent in periods of work experience must be at least thirty percent of the time spent in academic activity.
The SITE Co-op Office
The SITE Co-op Office is located at the Studley Campus on the 4th floor of the SUB, and the Sexton Campus at 1334 Barrington Street. In addition to Co-op job postings, the Co-op Office offers Co-op preparation and work term success courses, individual advising appointments and 15 minute drop-ins for résumé/cover letter/critiques, career exploration and decision making, job search, and mock interviews.