MI Co-operative Education Option


A co-operative education (Co-op) is an academic program coupled with experiential education attained in partnership between students, employers and an academic institution. The MI Co-op is an option within the MI program to complete 2 consecutive, paid, full-time Co-op work terms and gain professional experience in your field of study. It is an opportunity to apply knowledge in a real world situation and gain academic credit for it.

OVERVIEW:

What is Co-op?

Co-operative education (Co-op) is an academic program coupled with experiential education attained in partnership between students, employers and the iSchool.

Academic Credit

Once accepted into Co-op, you will enroll in up to two co-op courses, each worth 0.5 (FCE) credits. These courses will be graded “credit/non-credit” and will appear on your transcript.

We’re Here to Support You

MI Co-op students will complete either the INF3900 course or attend required career-related workshops to assist with the Co-op hiring process, planning Co-op work terms, and future career plans. The Co-op Coordinator and Careers Officer will be organizing Co-op information sessions prior to the start of your work term in order to prepare you for the Co-op experience.

Co-op students will have access to job postings starting in January of their first year. Each Co-op student is responsible for sending applications to potential employers, attending interviews, if invited, and obtaining an offer of employment. The Careers Officer will be available to assist you with all of the steps in this process.  Students are also encouraged to search for opportunities outside of the job board, though any such opportunities must be approved by the Faculty to qualify as a co-op work term.

What to expect:

Before Co-op During Co-op After Co-op
Complete INF3900H OR;

· Complete the required workshops within the Independent Co-op Preparation Plan (ICPP) as determined via a meeting with the Careers Officer

· Apply for co-op positions

· Attend all interviews

· Complete at least 8 courses (4.0 FCE)

· Maintain good academic standing (3.85 GPA)

· Develop goals and plan for the co-op work term

· The Co-op Coordinator will schedule a site visit or check-in and meet with the employer

· Provide feedback on your co-op experience

· Prepare a presentation of your co-op experience

· Get the notation for your transcript from the Co-op Coordinator

· Complete remaining courses for MI degree

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS: 

Who is eligible?

Current full-time first year MI students; all concentrations are included, including the GPP.

Students completing a thesis or taking the CDP option are not eligible for the MI Co-op.

How do I get into Co-op?

During the fall term:

      • Attend a Co-op Information Session
      • Submit a Declaration of Interest Form
      • Complete INF3900H OR ICPP Requirements
      • Complete at least 8 courses (4.0 FCE)
      • Maintain good academic standing (minimum 3.85 GPA)

Faculty decisions regarding student eligibility will be communicated in January.

Can I take more than one concentration?

No. The intention of your Co-op placement is to apply the foundational knowledge you’ve gained in one concentration in the workplace. This means that you must take 4 required courses within one concentration to support your placement work. Taking all the foundational courses is not viable to do for more than one concentration in your first year. Fall term work placement at the start of your second year also displaces course time management. It is not realistic to take all required courses for two concentrations while configuring two terms of placement.

If desired, students are permitted to enrol in elective courses outside your concentration both during and following your work terms.

Can I take less than 8 half courses (4.0 FCE) before the first co-op work term?

The minimum number of courses to complete before the co-op work term is 8 courses (4.0 FCE) which is equivalent of a full year and a requirement for co-op. A full academic year, i.e. 8 courses, ensures the adequate level and range of competences needed for successfully completing a co-op work opportunity. This is non-negotiable. Students who require accommodation for accessibility reasons, please make an appointment to speak with the Careers Officer to discuss possible opportunities.  Students interested in co-op who are not completing a full course load are encouraged to contact the Careers Officer as inclusion into co-op will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

If I am in the TALint program, can I still participate in the co-op option?

No. TALint positions and Co-op work terms can take place during the same period. As well, participation in the TALint program yields similar outcomes related to experiential learning to that of the MI Co-op. We ask you to pursue either a TALint position, if accepted, or the Co-op option.

Co-op students are unable to enrol in a Practicum course along with Co-op.  Why is this?

Both the Co-op and Practicum programs at the iSchool are work-integrated learning (WiL) opportunities that achieve similar outcomes related to workplace learning. The Faculty is committed to ensuring a balance of WiL and theoretical/applied learning in the classroom. We also limit the number of spaces in courses; therefore, it is necessary to balance access to maximize learning opportunities for all.

 CO-OP PLACEMENT PROCESS:

 Where will I compete my Co-op placement?

The Faculty of Information has established partnerships with organizations which consistently provide opportunities throughout the GTA and beyond. You may pursue Co-op placements anywhere in the GTA, Ontario, Canada, or globally. It is important that you consider that you may need to relocate to take advantage of opportunities outside the GTA.

 How many placements are available?

Historically, there have been approximately 300 job postings made available to students each year. The opportunities may vary by concentration and are subject to change on a yearly basis.

There are two categories of job postings:

1. “iSchool” postings, where the iSchool has an established relationship with the organization, and

2. “Public” postings which gathered from a variety of sources and whose organizations may not yet be connected with the iSchool.

Students are encouraged to apply to both types of postings to increase the likelihood of being selected for an interview and receiving an offer. Students are expected to apply to a significant number of job postings in order to successfully secure a co-op placement.

It is also important to note that many students obtain Co-op placements through their own independent searches and networking efforts (see question below).

Can I find my own placement?

Yes! Although the iSchool does source job postings and has developed long-standing relationships with valued organizations, we understand student may find unique opportunities through other means. Approximately 1/3rd of the co-op cohort sourced a placement most suitable for their specific career goals through personal contacts, past employers, individual networking, etc.

However, all such placements must be approved by the iSchool. Once you identify a Co-op placement opportunity, contact the Careers Office in advance of accepting a position to ensure it is a viable placement. The opportunity will be reviewed to ensure that the position will fulfill the learning objectives and other criteria. Some factors to be considered include: type of job and duties/responsibilities, hours worked, appropriate supervision provided, and pay.

All placements must be approved by the Careers Officer and Co-op Coordinator. Students are expected to obtain pre-approval from the Faculty with respect to a job posting at the point of application to determine alignment.  Once an offer is received, the employer will be contacted to ensure they would be willing to take an active part in the co-op partnership.

What happens if I find a placement in fall term before I am accepted into the Co-op program?

Sometimes a student will secure a Co-op placement during the fall term, prior to being accepted into the Co-op option. Students are excepted to discuss this with the Careers Officer to discuss eligibility.  It is important to note that there is no correlation between securing an early offer and Co-op acceptance. However, it is possible to parlay an early offer into a co-op opportunity where the opportunity meets the Faculty’s criteria.

Can I choose not to continue in the co-op program after my first 4-month placement?

Yes. Students can opt out of placement(s) for various reasons including: unable to secure a first/second placement; decision that coursework/in-Faculty term is more relevant; one term placement adequately fulfills interest/skill development.

You will receive course credit for any work term successfully completed. The Careers Officer is available to work with you to create and/or revise your career strategy at any time.

If I secure an 8-month placement, am I able to end my contract at the conclusion of a 4-month term, to pursue another placement?

No. As an ambassador for the iSchool in the workplace, we hold firm that students honour all signed contracts. The contract is not only between you and the employer but also the university. We want our partner-employers to be confident that when they have a commitment from our students and the Faculty, that the contract will be honoured.

If I’m accepted into Co-op, what occurs during the Winter term?

An orientation session will be held for the new Co-op cohort in January. During this period, the Careers Officer will support students throughout the Co-op job search process.

 ACADEMIC:

How should I balance required courses with co-op?

Required courses for MI concentrations are offered at least once per year, usually in the Fall/Winter.  You are responsible for ensuring that you have completed your program requirements by the time you wish to complete the program.  It is necessary to complete your required courses before beginning the co-op program.  You may also take a course while completing your co-op work term.  However, do not count on all required courses being available in the winter term after co-op ends.

What happens if I successfully complete INF3900H and choose not to apply to Co-op placement(s) and/or if I am not accepted into Co-op?

You will receive 0.5FCE for the completion of INF3900H course and gain the foundational knowledge to support your career as an information professional. Students who successfully complete INF3900H may determine during the Fall term that Co-op is not the best option for them. This is OK.

What other things should I consider with the Co-op option?

The Co-op program eliminates 1-3 elective courses from your program pathway. This may prove to be a ‘miss’ for some students. You may also be away from the iSchool and miss important networking/industry event opportunities and workshops. Consider whether there are other areas you’d prefer to focus on during your student career and whether your goals can be achieved through other channels (e.g. Practicum, part-time job, volunteering, work-study, internships, etc.)

The requirement for placements to be paid may influence the types of organizations and opportunities available for you. For example, there may be more paid opportunities in private organizations than public; there may be a high number of Co-op students in one concentration vying for placements; and, there may be less overall placement opportunities in specific sectors or sub-sectors.

TIMELINES:

When should I expect to secure my placement?

We encourage students to begin looking for opportunities as early as possible. Many organizations begin to promote their summer Co-op positions in late-November and throughout the winter months.  However, the majority of students normally secure their placements in the spring; up to 50% of all summer placement offers are made in April.

What is the term sequence?

MI Co-op students starting their studies in September, two co-op work terms will be scheduled as follows:

  • Summer Term (May – August)
  • Fall Term (September – December);
  • OR a 24-week work term (May – December).

There are two options for completing studies within a two-year frame:

YEAR 1 YEAR 2
FALL WINTER SUMMER FALL WINTER SUMMER
OPTION 1 Academic Term

 

2.0 FCE

(4 x 0.5 courses)

Academic Term

 

2.0 FCE

(4 x 0.5 courses)

Work Term

 

0.5 FCE

(1 x 0.5 co-op course)

Work Term

 

0.5 FCE

(1 x 0.5 co-op course)

Academic Term

 

2.0 FCE

(4 x 0.5 courses)

Academic Term

 

1.0 FCE

(2 x 0.5 courses)

OPTION 2 Academic Term

 

2.0 FCE

(4 x 0.5 courses)

Academic Term

 

2.0 FCE

(4 x 0.5 courses)

Work Term

 

1.0 FCE

(0.5 co-op course and 0.5 course)

Work Term

 

1.0 FCE

(0.5 co-op course and 0.5 course)

Academic Term

 

2.0 FCE

(4 x 0.5 courses)

N/A

 Is it possible to change the term sequencing?

Students wishing to complete a term sequence different from the above are encouraged to contact the Careers Office to explore potential opportunities. Winter term opportunities may be offered based on availability and demand.

What is the hiring timeline?

The estimated timeline for the hiring process is shown in the table below.

Work Term Job Posting Interview Process Job Offer
SUMMER January – April February – May February – May
FALL May – July June – August June – August

EXPECTATIONS DURING THE CO-OP TERM:

How much compensation will I receive while on my placement?

Your pay wage will be influenced by a number of factors, some of which may include: organization, sector, public or private, your level of experience.

Average wages for MI Co-op students is $18-$30/hour.

Students are encouraged to focus on the learning experience rather than the rate of pay.  Students who try to negotiate a rate of pay above and beyond what is listed above risk their offer being revoked by the employer.

What will I be required to submit/do while on placement?

Like any course offering, there are required deliverables for you while on your placement. The full details of these requirements will be outlined in the course syllabus once you start your work term in May.

Deliverables may include, but are not limited to:

  • Development and approval of a learning agenda
  • Mid-term assignment
  • Poster
  • Final report

Note: You may be hired up to 16 weeks, however, the final report will be due on/before Week 12.

Can I fail my Co-op during the placement period of the program?

Like any course offering, there is the possibility that a student may not meet the requirements of their placement or satisfactorily complete the course deliverables.

FINANCES

Is there an ancillary charge levied for each Co-op work term? Why?

Yes. There is a $600.00 + HST fee levied during each of your two work terms (totaling $1,200+HST). This fee is standard across U Toronto Co-op programs.  The fee supports additional administrative work required for this course option including Career Office Co-op coordination, employer outreach and engagement, and system support/s, to include a few examples.

The Summer Co-op fee is paid directly to the Faculty of Information and instructions on how to do this will be given in the early Spring of each year.  The Fall Co-op fee is added to the fall session tuition invoice and is paid along with regular tuition.

Why do I pay Fall tuition during my Co-op placement?

All Co-op students need to be enrolled full-time to be eligible for the Co-op option.  Co-op placements are courses completed in the workplace, supervised by both an employer and the iSchool instructor with specific learning objectives.  Students receive 0.5FCE during each of two work terms, and are allowed to complete an additional 0.5FCE in another course, if desired.

I am counting on Co-op to help me pay for my MI education. What if I don’t get in?

The Co-op option is not an employment option but a pedagogical strategy. Co-operative education emphasizes workplace learning and should not be relied upon as financial assistance opportunity. Although placements are paid, there are added fee requirements involved. Please keep in mind that Co-op placement prevents students from having a summer job – many of which may be better paid than a Co-op placement. Also, many students already work part time during the fall term.  Co-op income may be only marginally greater than part time work income, given the added $600 co-op fee added per work term.

The Careers Officer is available to provide you with assistance when pursuing on-campus or off-campus work opportunities to support your financial needs.

If you are concerned about finances during your studies at the Faculty of Information, our Student Services staff members are also able to assist and refer you to appropriate resources throughout the institution and beyond. You are encouraged to contact inquire.ischool@utoronto.ca to learn more about how to best prepare you financially.

OTHER

 As an international student, is Co-op an essential step in finding employment in Canada?

Receiving a University of Toronto degree in the Master of Information program is a globally-recognized credential and your premium step to employment. However, Co-op certainly provides a very targeted and specific corridor to entering the Canadian work environment and gaining domestic experience.  Please also consider that co-op is one type of work-integrated learning opportunity; students not enrolled in co-op will have other avenues for gaining experience.

 

For any further questions, please contact ischool.coop@utoronto.ca.