Getting a taste of life post-graduation before it happens

An exciting development is in store for students of journalism, anthropology, sociology, and political science. Concordia’s Institute for Co-operative Education is in the process of integrating these departments into their program.

Getting approval for such an extensive program is a complex process. The approval is now in its final stage of review, which entails approval by the senate (the highest governing structure at Concordia University). In order to get to senate, the coordinator had to go through the Curriculum Council, the Curriculum Committee, the Academic Programs Committee and, before that, they needed faculty approval.

Despite this, coordinator Jane Fairhurst who has been developing the new programs said, “We have been incredibly fortunate because the university is very pro experiential learning, so it has only taken us about a year to get this going. From what I’ve heard, this is absolutely unheard of. Usually, these kinds of procedures take a lot longer to get implemented.”

If the co-op program is approved, students will be able to put in their applications in mid-November, immediately after approval by the senate. Students must start applying for jobs all through the winter semester in order for them to have their first job by summer of 2014.

If you’ve not yet exceeded 30 credits (in other words, still a first year student or just starting your second year), you’re eligible to apply for the program. If you have more, you can’t complete the scheduled program because you’re required to do three work terms, with a study term in between, and you have to end on a study term.

Grade requirements vary by program. Applicants in the journalism department for example need a GPA of 2.7 or a CRC of 28.

Applicants will be judged on grades, competence, and enthusiasm. The applications will need to include a letter of intent, cover letter, CV and transcript.

The first year enrollment in the co-op program will be capped at 10, and is strictly considered a trial year to see if it works for employers and if students are interested. If there are a surplus of employers interested in journalism students, then the number of students admitted will slowly increase.

“But it all has to happen slowly, like a bit of a dance,” said Fairhurst. “We can’t increase the number of students without having the employers, we can’t increase the number of employers without having the right number of students.”

Upon completion of the co-op program, students “are miles ahead of their peers graduating from other universities without having gone through co-operative learning.” Students will have three letters of recommendation from employers to put on their CV.

But participation in the co-op program goes further to help students than simply a résumé boost. All students enrolled in the program will attend seminars in cover-letter writing, CV writing, and interview skills. This ensures that graduates of the program “are at a certain caliber when they’re actually interviewing and going out to get jobs.”


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