Have you decided of what you want to do? Do you want to know what it’s like to work in a particular industry?
The co-operative education program (co-op for short) in high school allows you to work in a field you’re interested in and would like to explore for one semester. The program runs from September to January or February to June. It’s open to students going into grades 11 and 12.
The amount of hours you spend each day in your workplace will depend on how many credits you intend to earn: two credits requires you to work from 12:00 to 4:00 pm; 3-credit co-op requires you to work from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm; and 4-credits requires you to work from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Co-op teachers will help you in the process of finding a perfect placement for you.
I’m a grade 12 co-op student currently working for Ripple Foundation—January is my last month working here. I’m in 3-credit co-op, so I work 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. In terms of experience, I’ve worked with Excel documents, managed social media accounts, Google analytics, and blogs. I also took part in creative tasks such as brainstorming new ideas for promoting the organization and performed some SEO (search engine optimization) activities, such as researching and using keywords, to increase the number of visitors in a website or video.
Before starting my placement, I was determined to pursue a career as an author or work in the publishing industry, possibly as a proofreader or an editor. After 5 months of working with Ripple Foundation, I’m still determined to pursue a career in the industry: I’ve decided to study writing in university.
Some of the other fields that students went into are health, construction, veterinary, hospitality and tourism, technology, business, and law. Three of my co-op peers were placed in a physiotherapy clinic, construction site, and veterinary clinic respectively.
Samama, a grade 11 student, did her placement in a physiotherapy clinic because she was interested in becoming a physiotherapist. She did tasks such as physically organizing files and records; assisting in rehabilitation and therapy of patients; and performing certain tests or assisting the physiotherapist to determine what required treatment. After Samama went through this work experience, she realized that physiotherapy was not for her and decided to pursue optometry instead.
Another student, Francis, did co-op in construction. He worked for Great Gulf, a construction company, at Monde condominium. He performed administrative work and construction tasks, such as electrical work, plumbing, and carpentry. He also did scaffolding and work with concrete. After 5 months of working there, he realized that he loves electrical work and has applied to college to become an electrician.
Meanwhile, my grade 12 friend, Annie, wanted to pursue a career working with animals, and so was placed in a veterinary clinic.
There she did administrative work; maintained a clean environment; took care of animal patients; did tasks such as injecting certain antidotes or medicine to animal patients; and was able to witness how surgery was performed. After going through this placement, she realized that a career in veterinary was not for her and, instead, she decided to pursue a career as a zoologist.
Because of co-op, we were able to experience what it’s like to work in fields we were interested in and able to reflect on whether we still wanted to pursue it. It allowed us to find out our strengths and weaknesses. Without it, we would be uncertain of what we would pursue after high school.
We are also thankful to the co-op teachers at our school, Northview Heights Secondary School, for making this possible and for preparing us for working in the real world.
I recommend this program to students in grades 10 and 11, who are choosing their courses for next year. Not only you will be able to gain real world experience, you will also find out if the career path you had in mind suits you. It will also let you experience what it’s like to work 5 days a week. Take this opportunity, you won’t regret it!