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.
How does Co-op work?
The MI Co-op option will provide you with an opportunity to alternate academic terms with co-op work terms. As an MI Co-op student, you will have the chance to work in a full-time, paid position for two 12-week periods, or one 24-week period.
Once accepted into the Co-op, you will enroll in two Co-op courses, each worth 0.5 (FCE) credits, for each of the work terms. These courses will be graded “credit/non-credit” and will appear on your transcript.
We’re Here to Support You
All MI Co-op students will 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 Academic Lead, a faculty member, will be organizing co-op specific sessions prior to the start of your work term, in order to prepare your for the Co-op experience.
Co-op students will also have access to Co-op postings starting in January of their first year. Each Co-op student is responsible for sending an application to the employer, completing an interview, 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.
- $1200 auxiliary fee paid in two installments, i.e. $600 per co-op work term
Questions & Answers
The MI Co-op option is entering its 4th year since inception. In 2018-19, we expect to accept approximately 60 students into the Co-op option. Below you will find information to help you decide if Co-op is the right option for you and to ensure you understand procedures and guidelines related to this course option.
- How do I get into Co-op?
Here are the steps:
- Enrol in INF3900H: Workplace Preparation Course
- During the fall term, submit an application to the Careers Office. Information concerning the application, process and timing will be provided in INF3900H. Applications are reviewed by the Co-op Selection Committee.
- Some may be asked to attend a short interview if further application clarification is required.
- Decision/s as to who will be accepted into the Co-op option will be made prior to end of Fall 2018 term.
- Am I required to take any prerequisite courses before applying to the Co-op program?
Yes. Again, all students interested in the MI Co-op option are required to complete INF3900H in the Fall semester of your first year.
Workplace-integrated-learning (W-I-L) is the umbrella term used to describe educational experiences that combine periods of in-class study with actual workplace experiences. While co-operative education falls under this broad rubric, it is interesting to note that the practice of learning in-situ has been around for at least a century. Conversely, the concept of workplace integrated-learning is very much a twenty-first century phenomenon representative of an increasingly competitive and globalized information/knowledge economy premised on perpetual innovation. W-I-L is one solution to the problem of educating the next generation of productive workers so that they can “hit the ground running” and move the world forward in innovative and creative ways.
Registration for INF3900H will open July 25th 2018 at 6:00AM.
- 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 can I expect during the interview and selection process?
See #1 above. You will be notified of deadline dates and application progress.
- Are only the ‘best’ students accepted into the Co-op option?
Admission to the Co-op option is based on clear evidence of alignment between the student’s background, clarity of motivation for chosen studies, clarity of career plans, and the role that workplace integrated learning can play in enacting those plans. This is not about grades but rather the degree of alignment, or fit, between the benefits/drawbacks of the Co-op option, and each student’s learning needs.
- Is it true that the more work experience a student has, the better their chances are of getting into the Co-op option?
Indeed, the opposite is often true. If the student has extensive work experience, then formal classroom study/ exposure would be of greater benefit than further work integrated learning. Students with minimal work experience stand to benefit greatly from the Co-op option. We review previous experience with respect to proposed career alignment.
- How many placements are available?
In the 2017-18 academic year, MI Co-op students had access to just under 300 job postings. There are two categories of job postings: a) “Filtered” postings – placements where the iSchool has an established relationship with the organization, and b) “Unfiltered” postings – placements gathered from a variety of sources and whose organizations may not yet be connected with the iSchool. You are encouraged to apply to both unfiltered and filtered postings to increase your likelihood of receiving an interview and offer. With that, you 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 means (see #10).
- 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.
- When should I expect to secure my placement?
We encourage you to begin looking for your placement as early as possible. Many organizations begin to promote their summer Co-op positions in late-November and throughout the winter months – though the majority of our students have normally found their placements in March through May. Not having a placement by start of April is relatively normal.
- 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 you may find a unique opportunity through other means. Last year, approximately 1/3rd of the class sourced a placement most suitable for their specific career goal/s found through personal contacts, past employers, individual networking, etc.
All placements need to be approved. Once you identify a Co-op placement opportunity, contact the Careers Office in advance of submitting your application to ensure it is a viable placement. The opportunity will be reviewed to ensure that the position will fulfill all learning objectives. Some factors to be considered include: type of job and duties/responsibilities, hours worked, supervision provided, and pay.
- What happens if I find a placement in fall term before I am accepted into the Co-op program?
Sometimes a student will find a Co-op placement during the fall term, prior to being accepted into the Co-op course option. See #10 above for details. You must discuss the opportunity with the Careers Office BEFORE application. It is important to note – there is NO correlation between finding an early placement and Co-op acceptance.
- If I’m accepted into Co-op, what occurs during the Winter term?
Once you have completed INF3900H and have been accepted into the Co-op option, there will be no in-class activity until you begin your placement in May. During this period, there will be regular meet-up sessions with the Careers Officer to support you throughout the Co-op job search process. An orientation session will be held for the new Co-op cohort in December.
- What will I be required to submit/do while on placement/s?
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:
- Development and approval of a learning agenda
- Regular postings to Quercus discussion groups
- Mid-term report
- 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.
Deliverables during your placement (INF3901H, INF3902H and INF3903H) include: course work = 80%; placement evaluation = 20%.
- What happens if I do not secure either one 8-month or two 4-month placements?
If you are unable to meet the requirements of two (2) work term placements, completing work in both Summer and Fall terms, then you will receive appropriate course credit but you will not receive the Co-op designation. You must complete two (2) 4-month placements or one (1) 8-month placement in order to receive the Co-op designation.
- 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 Faculty 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.
- Where will I do my Co-op placement?
The Faculty of Information has partnerships with organizations throughout the world as well as remarkable opportunities throughout the GTA. 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.
- 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 Orbis system support/s, as example.
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.
- 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.
- Do I need to be certain of my career journey in order to be accepted into the co-op program?
It helps if you have a clearer sense of your career path in order to focus your course work, your understanding of the specific sector, and your job search.
Some students come to the iSchool with high certainty about their field of study and field of practice, and have the self-reflection characteristics needed to take full advantage of workplace integrated learning. For those students, the Co-op option may make a valuable contribution to learning and launching.
However, other students have explicit or latent ambivalence about their course of study. They are yet unclear of personal career direction – a normative state for many as ‘information’ per se, is a constantly evolving field of study. Sometimes this sense of direction manifests early in the first term, when courses get dropped and concentrations get changed– or, for some, in second year. Sometimes one elective taken in second year opens a student’s eyes to a newly discovered industry or job role that becomes their chosen path. Whenever this happens, it reflects a giant leap forward in a student’s self-knowledge and learning, and that is frankly a great thing to behold. For these students, course work and in-faculty connections may be better suited to determine one’s focus.
- As an international student, is Co-op an essential step in finding employment in Canada?
No. Receiving a University of Toronto degree in the Masters of Information program is a globally-recognized credential and your premium step to employment. Co-op certainly provides a very targeted and specific corridor to experience ‘work’ but non co-op students often develop a larger range of networking contacts and experiences within a broader range of sectors. It is these networks that serve both short and longer term employment, along with the degree credential.
- 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 (see #19).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how to best prepare you financially.
- 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 on 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 you wish, you are permitted to enrol in elective courses outside your concentration both during and following your work terms.
- What other things should I consider with the Co-op option
The Co-op program eliminates 3-4 elective courses from your program pathway. This may prove to be a huge ‘miss’ for many students. You may also be away from the iSchool and miss important networking/industry insight opportunities including iSkills workshops, panel and networking events, Work Study positions, job shadowing, volunteer opportunities, mentorship, and Research in Progress (RIP!) event.
a) Not all students are accepted into the Co-op option – and others opt out prior to workplace placement. You should have your back up plan ready now.
b) 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.
How To ApplyThe MI Co-op is open to first year students only and the intake will take place each fall:
To apply to the MI Co-op program, a candidate has to:
- Attend MI Co-op information session in Fall 2018
- Submit required application materials (deadline TBA)
- Await acceptance decision from MI Co-op Selection Committee
In order to stay in the co-op option, and prior to your first work term, you will need to:
- Be a current full-time first year MI student, who is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada, or international student
- Be an MI student in a concentration only path; all 7 concentrations are included. Students completing a thesis and taking CDP option are not eligible for the MI Co-op
- Have completed a minimum of two required courses in at least one of your declared concentrations
- Have completed at least 8 half courses (4.0 FCE)
- Have received minimum A- cumulative average
- Have completed INF3900H Work Integrated Learning course
Term SequenceFor MI Co-op (Year One) students starting their studies in September, two required co-op work terms will be:
There are two options for completing studies within a two-year frame:
- Summer 2019 (May – August)
- Fall 2019 (September – December);
- OR an 24-week work term (May – December 2019).
Fall (Year One) Winter (Year One) Summer Fall (Year Two) Winter (Year Two) Summer Academic Term Academic Term Work Term Work Term Academic Term Academic Term 2.0 FCE (4 x 0.5 courses) 2.0 FCE (4 x 0.5 courses) 0.5 FCE (1 x 0.5 co-op course) 0.5 FCE (1 x 0.5 co-op course) 2.0 FCE (4 x 0.5 courses) 1.0 FCE (2 x 0.5 courses)
Fall (Year One) Winter (Year One) Summer Fall (Year Two) Winter (Year Two) Summer Academic Term Academic Term Work Term Work Term Academic Term N/A 2.0 FCE (4 x 0.5 courses) 2.0 FCE (4 x 0.5 courses) 1.0 FCE (0.5 co-op course and 0.5 course) 1.0 FCE (0.5 co-op course and 0.5 course) 2.0 FCE (4 x 0.5 courses) N/AAs a co-op student, you will have access to co-op postings starting in January. Each co-op student is responsible for sending an application to the employer, completing an interview, if invited, and obtaining an offer of employment. The Co-op Coordinator will be available to assist you with all of the steps in this process.To qualify as a co-op work term, the co-op position needs to be:
The estimated timeline for the hiring process is shown in the table below.Work TermJob PostingInterviewJob OfferSummer 2019January – MarchFebruary – AprilFebruary – AprilFall 2019May – JulyJune – AugustJune – August
- Minimum of 12 consecutive weeks, a 24-week long work term is also an option
- Full-time, i.e. minimum of 35 hours a week
- Relevant, i.e. work opportunity related to your studies
- Supervised by a professional in the field
- Approved by the MI Co-op Coordinator and/or Co-op Director