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Co-operative Education

Co-operative Education prepares motivated post-secondary students with the opportunity to combine academic studies with practical experience in their chosen field. Students alternate between periods of full-time study and periods of full-time paid work experience related to their interests, career goals and academic program.

  • three-way partnership between college, employer and student
  • opportunity for students to grow professionally while applying classroom knowledge to practical experience in the workplace
  • more and more studies, from groups like the Council of Ontario Universities, show that co-op students have an advantage after graduation. They earn more, have a higher employability rate and are more likely to pay off their student loans in two years compared to peers that did not participate in co-op

Be a co-op student

Top five ways students benefit from co-op:

  1. Earn money to help pay for tuition. Co-op student wages are set by the employer but must be a fair market wage for the level of work you will be performing
  2. Test-drive different careers to fine tune your career goals
  3. Build confidence in your skills while adding to your resume
  4. Open doors to employers and employment opportunities
  5. Develop your interview and resume skills with guidance and support from Student Employment Services before and during your work terms

"My co-op experience at Disney was phenomenal. I would go back in a second. I knew that I was going to experience a lot of culture but I didn't know how profoundly it was going to impact me."
-Brianna Faucher, Tourism Hospitality Management diploma co-op student

Student FAQs

When do I register for co-op at NIC?

  • Business students should apply to the co-op program between May and September by submitting an application to Student Employment Services at NIC's Comox Valley or Campbell River campus. All applicants will be interviewed and eligible students will be asked to register in EMP-100 during the fall term. Your GPA will be reviewed before you have access to the online co-op job board and before you start your work term.
  • Tourism and Hospitality students typically register in EMP-100 during the fall term and THM-197 during the spring term.

How long are the work terms

To receive a Co-op Designation on their Diploma, Business students must complete one co-op Internship which equals 25% of time spent in academic study, which is four months of paid full-time work. Each work term requires a minimum of 420 hours of paid work (based on 16 weeks at 35 hours per week).

To receive a Co-op Designation along with your Business Degree, Business students must successfully complete a minimum of three work terms. Each work term equals 30% of time spent in academic study which is four months of full-time work. Each work term requires a minimum of 420 hours paid work (based on 16 weeks at 35 hours per week).

Tourism and Hospitality Management students (including Adventure Guiding pathway option) must successfully complete at least one work term of with a minimum of 420 hours as part of their diploma program.

What do the course registration fees pay for?

Co-op fees are based on credits assigned to the Pre-employment Seminar EMP-100 and each work term course. The fees are a contribution toward the costs of services associated with offering co-operative education in academic programs and include:

  • pre-employment seminars
  • individual career guidance and career planning support
  • open doors to business contacts, networking events and employment opportunities
  • support during study and work periods
  • assistance with preparation for graduation work search

Are employers subsidized?

While there is no direct co-op subsidy for employers, we do assist employers in accessing employment funding such as the Canada Summer Jobs Grant Program that has online applications available in February each year to make the opportunity more viable for small businesses.

What is the work search process?

As a co-op student, you are required to actively participate in the work search process using a variety of work search techniques taught in the course, EMP-100. You will have opportunities to meet with an employment services advisor to identify work that match your goals. You will learn how to identify potential leads, contact employers, write employment proposals, conduct information interviews, attend community events and conduct internet research for career planning and job searching. If an opportunity develops primarily as a result of your individual efforts, it will obviously not be posted or made available to others.

How do I find out more about NIC's co-op program?

Visit the Student Resources page or book an appointment with an employment services advisor by calling 250-334-5000 in Courtenay and 250-923-9700 in Campbell River.

Be a co-op employer

Top five ways employers benefit from participating in co-op:

  1. reduce the time and cost of recruiting new employees
  2. access a local group of highly motivated employees who have specialized knowledge and current technology skills to respond to your business needs
  3. opportunity to evaluate and experience working with a particular student as a potential permanent employee without obligation or commitment to long-term employment
  4. access a source of temporary staff for short term special projects, seasonal peaks and personnel shortages
  5. enhance your role in the local business community by mentoring a student and developing a stronger relationship with NIC students, staff and faculty

"Co-op students work on meaningful projects that are vital to our organization. It's like getting a consultant for a reasonable rate"
-Jim Brennan, Human Resources Manager, Campbell River Immigrant Welcome Centre

Employer FAQs

What qualifications do students have and what programs do NIC Co-op students come from?

NIC offers Co-op programs in:

How is student eligibility for co-op determined?

In general, students must have earned above average marks, have finished all (or most) of their first year of studies prior to their first work term and completed a pre-placement employment preparation course.

What are the obligations of the co-op Employer?

  • To provide employment in an area relevant to the student's area of study
  • To appoint a supervisor who will assign tasks and objectives and provide leadership and direction for the students throughout the work term
  • To communicate with the co-op office if issues arise or to share success stories
  • To assist co-op students in the development, achievement and evaluation of their work term goals
  • To participate in an on-site visit with co-op staff and complete a performance evaluation at the end of the work term

How much are students paid? Are employers subsidized?

Student salaries are entirely employer and market driven. However, in order to participate in co-op, employers are expected to pay a fair market wage for the type of work the student will perform. Students are not marketed as cheap labour.

While there is no direct co-op subsidy for employers who hire co-op students, we do assist employers in accessing funding such as the Canada Summer Jobs Grant Program that has online applications available in February each year.

When are students available for work and for how long?

Business Administration students: : A variety of work term schedules can be arranged with students. Most co-op students who have completed their first year of studies seek work that starts in May. Some second year students are prepared to work at any time of year. Students may also be available for longer periods, which can result in significantly increased value for employers. These students complete at least two four-month work terms (minimum requirement: 420 hours each work term).

Tourism students: These students complete one co-op work term between the beginning of May and the end of September (minimum requirement: 420 hours).

May co-op students complete all work terms with the same employer?

Yes, students may arrange to complete a second work term with the same employer as long as the second work term is relevant to the student's second year of studies and provides either different duties or increased responsibilities.

How do I hire a co-op student through North Island College?

Contact the Student Employment Services at the Comox Valley or Campbell River campus and we will guide you through an easy process to develop a co-op job posting. We will distribute the posting to eligible students, collect cover letters and resumes by the specified date and notify students of interview times. If you prefer, we can even arrange interview space on campus.

Eligible programs

What NIC programs are eligible for co-op?

NIC business students and tourism and hospitality students are eligible to participate in co-op after successful completion of the Co-operative Education Pre-Employment Seminar (EMP-100).

NIC offers co-op programs in:

  • Bachelor of Business Administration degree and Business Administration diploma (Accounting, General Management or Marketing options). Students alternate between paid work terms and periods of full time study. To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:
    • complete first year of course requirements before your first work term (some exceptions may apply)
    • maintain a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.33 (C+)
    • participate in an intake interview
    • maintain full-time student status (minimum three courses) during the academic terms before and after your work term
  • Tourism & Hospitality Management diploma students have a mandatory co-op component to their program. You must successfully complete the Co-operative Education Pre-Employment Seminar (EMP 100) and Tourism & Hospitality Diploma entrance requirements prior to enrolling in your co-op work term in order to receive your diploma. This work term takes place in the spring/summer after your first academic year is completed.

Co-op designation

What co-op courses do I take to earn my co-op designation?

  • Business Administration diploma (Accounting, General Management, or Marketing options) – includes an optional Co-op Internship that is four months long, full-time, paid employment which takes place after completion of the first academic year and before completion of the second academic year.

    Business Administration Diploma Students must successfully complete the following:

    • EMP-100 Co-operative Education Pre-Employment Seminar
    • BUS-197 Business Administration Co-operative Education Internship Work Term
  • The Bachelor of Business Administration degree - Work terms and academic terms are four months long, full-time, and alternate in a formalized sequence, ending on an academic term. Work terms must take place in more than one season for a co-operative education designation to be granted.

    Business Administration Degree Students must complete the following:

    • EMP-100 Co-operative Education Pre-Employment Seminar
    • BUS-197 Business Administration Co-operative Education Work Term 1
    • BUS-297 Business Administration Co-operative Education Work Term 2
    • BUS-397 Business Administration Co-operative Education Work Term 3

    Note that Co-op is not a summer program so at least one work term must take place in the Fall or Winter semester.

  • Tourism & Hospitality Management Diploma Program (Hospitality, Sustainability, Hospitality & Sustainability, or Adventure Guiding options) include a mandatory Co-op Internship that is a minimum of four months long, full-time, paid employment which takes place after completion of the first academic year and before completion of the second academic year.

    Tourism & Hospitality Diploma Students must successfully complete the following:

    • EMP-100 Co-operative Education Pre-Employment Seminar
    • THM-197 Tourism Co-operative Education Internship Work Term

What can graduating with a co-op designation do for me?

Your co-op designation demonstrates that you have a combination of academic training and relevant work experience to successfully transition into employment.

Employers across Canada recognize the quality of your co-op training and experience. North Island College Co-operative Education programs are accredited by both national and provincial governing bodies, the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE) and the Association for Co-operative Education (ACE).This provides you the opportunity to transfer your co-op credits to another institution if you plan to continue your studies within the same field at another institution that offers co-op.

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Co-op Education: Be a Co-op Student

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Co-op Education: Be a Co-op Employer

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