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 4-month periods, or one 8-month 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 planning their Co-op work terms, the Co-op hiring process and future career plans.The Co-op Director, a faculty member, will be organizing two 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 Co-op Coordinator will be available to assist you with all of the steps in this process.
For more information, please contact: iSchool Careers Officer
To view the September 2017 co-op information session presentation, click here: MI Co-op Info Session Sept 2017
Master of Information Co-operative Education Option
Questions & Answers
The MI co-op program is entering its third year since inception. We have grown from a cohort of 26 students in Year One to 65 students in Year Two. This year, we expect to accept approximately the same number of students as Year Two. Below you will find useful 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 program.
- What can I expect during the interview and selection process?
Selection for a co-op position involves a three-step process.
Step One: Attend one of two information sessions scheduled at the start of the academic year. This session will provide you with details on how to apply and what to include in your application.
Step Two: Submit a resume and statement of interest by the deadline date provided.
Step Three: Short interviews will be held where further clarification is required. Not receiving an interview indicates that your application has already provided sufficient information to determine non/acceptance
All students will be notified of their acceptance – or non-acceptance – by mid-November.
- Are only the ‘best’ students accepted into the co-op program?
Admission to the co-op program 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 program, 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 program?
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 program. We review previous experience with respect to proposed career alignment.
- How many jobs are available?
In the 2016-17 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 been 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 minimum of 10-15 job postings per term 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.
- How many interviews can I expect?
On average, you can expect to be invited to interview approximately 3-5 times per term. The iSchool has a number of resources to assist you during your interview preparation as the number of interviews you secure will depend on the strength of your resume, the number of job postings you apply to, and in some instances the ability you have to network with key influencers.
- 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 own 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, then contact the Careers Officer. 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 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 during the INF3900 workplace preparation course. Deliverables may include:
- Development and approval of a learning agenda
- Regular postings to Blackboard discussion groups
- Mid-term report
- Final report
Note: A student may be hired up to 16 weeks, however, the final report will be due on/before Week 12.
- Can I fail my co-op?
Like any course offering, there is the possibility that a student may not meet the requirements of the course. The deliverables provided for INF3900, and your one/two work term/s must be satisfactorily completed (Pass/Fail) to receive course credit/s.
Deliverables during your placement (INF3901, INF3902 and INF3903) include: course deliverables = 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.
- 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 during your time at the iSchool.
- 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.
- Why is there a charge levied for each work term?
The $600.00 + HST fee levied during your two work terms (totaling $1,200+HST) support the administration of the MI co-op program (i.e. employer outreach and engagement, CRM annual fees, etc.). It is a standard fee levied for co-op programs at the University of Toronto. 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.
- 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 program 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 the essential gateway to find employment in Canada?
No. Receiving a University of Toronto degree in the Masters of Information program is a globally-recognized credential and your premium ‘gateway 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 which may impact your overall tuition costs. Please keep in mind that co-op 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 so co-op fall term 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 email@example.com to learn more about how to best prepare you financially.
- What are other things I should consider in deciding whether to do the co-op program?
a) 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.
b) Not all students are accepted into the co-op program – and others opt out prior to workplace placement. You should have your back up plan ready now.
c) The requirement for placements to be paid may influence the types of organizations and opportunities that may be available for you. For example, there may be more paid opportunities in special libraries over public or academic libraries for LIS students; and more paid opportunities in private organizations for records management positions.
How To Apply
For first year, full-time Master of Information students:
- Attend one of two information sessions being held Monday, September 18th, 2017 and Thursday, September 21st, 2017
- Submit your letter of intent and resume by Friday, September 29th at 5:00pm (late submissions will not be considered). Please submit both materials in ONE .PDF file to Alex Howes, Careers Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Letter of intent should be 500-750 words (single-spaced) in cover letter format. You may choose to highlight: past work experience, relevance of work-integrated learning, and/or areas of work interest
- Successful applicants will be notified following review of applications
Sample Term Sequence
Sample Term Sequence
Fall – Year 1: Academic Term.
Winter – Year 1: Academic Term.
Summer – Year 1: Work Term
Fall – Year 2: Work Term
Winter – Year 2: Academic Term
Summer – Year 2: Academic Term
Who is Eligible?
The 2017-2018 MI Co-op is open to first year Master of Information students only. The intake will take place each fall and the iSchool reserves the right to determine the number of students accepted into the co-op option each year. To apply, a candidate must:
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 are not eligible for the MI Co-op
In order to stay in the co-op option, and prior to your first work term, you will need to:
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 ten mandatory modules, including seven career workshops and three sessions with the Co-op Director
In case you were not successful in obtaining the co-op option, you still have the opportunity to take the practicum course(s) offered in the second year of studies. Co-op students are not eligible to take the practicum courses as their co-op work terms already count towards the practical experience. Co-op students are expected to return from their co-op work terms to complete their academic requirements.