Is co-op all that it’s cracked up to be? That’s a good question.
We originally published this post in May 2011 to coincide with the Association for Co-operative Education (ACE) (B.C./Yukon region) conference that was held in Victoria, B.C. last spring. The information is perhaps now even more timely and important for students considering co-operative education programs. So, with the Canadian Association For Co-operative Education (CAFCE) coming to Whistler B.C. for a gathering of all the finest minds in co-op education from around the country, this seems like a good time to repost.
Post secondary students often ask me whether co-op education is a good complement to their business education and how it can further their career aspirations. In fact, with many students now anticipating the return of more optimistic economic and employment outlooks, they have recently been asking if it might be better to jump into the work force a year earlier rather than post
-pone graduation with a co-op degree.
So, should students consider a co-op program to enhance their education and career aspirations? My answer is always threefold: yes, yes, and yes! While there is considerable documentation available on the benefits of co-op education, here are a few thoughts from my own observations over the last several years.
- Reason 1: The good people who manage co-op programs here in B.C. and across the country are quite simply unmatched in the knowledge, ability and passion they bring to their jobs. They believe strongly in the value of co-op and this is reflected in the quality of placements, the success of the programs, and the long-term business relationships they have established at these post-secondary institutions.
- Reason 2: There is absolutely no better way to overcome what I have previously called ‘the two-year-experience dilemma.’ With co-op you hit the job market with proven work experience. This is an important competitive edge in the job market.
- Reason 3: Obviously, co-op is the best opportunity you can have to practically apply classroom learning in a real work environment. What few people realize, however, is that the opposite can be even more important. Classroom learning can be greatly enriched and enhanced through the application of real learning from a work term.
- Reason 4: With so many diverse sectors in the economy, choosing a career path can be a daunting task, especially for accounting students. Public practice? Industry? Government? There is nothing better than co-op to help shine a light on different sectors and career options.
- Reason 5: Continued career success may ultimately rest on an individual’s confidence and self esteem. The benefits that co-op affords in this regard are often most significant. Hitting the job market with a well developed sense of confidence and self esteem can supercharge your journey along the career path you have chosen.
- Reason 6: Co-op represents a great opportunity for students to prove their value and true potential to an employer. More often than not, a co-op placement will result in a full-time job offer after graduation. (And isn’t that what it’s all about?)
- Reason 7: The people you meet through co-op, including your bosses, colleagues, and clients make a great foundation for building a professional network that could prove to be indispensable long after your co-op years.
- Reason 8: Finally, let’s face it, the money you earn never hurts.
At CGA-BC we have long believed in the value that co-op programs contribute to education and business here in B.C. In fact, we believe in it so much that we subsidize post-secondary co-op placements for many of our employment partners and CGA firms.
So, have we left any doubt about whether we believe co-op is a good choice for students?