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iSchool Introduces New Co-op Program

Submitted on Thursday, January 07, 2016

Sign with "your career" stenciled on. Sign's original reflective white texture used in text for realism. Starting this month, first year Master of Information (MI) students will have access to co-op job postings as part of the iSchool’s experiential learning process. This new option was launched at the Faculty of Information this fall, allowing eligible first year students to alternate periods of academic study, with work experience in appropriate fields.

“The co-op provides an opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience and apply their knowledge in a relevant work environment,” says the iSchool’s Careers Officer, Isidora Petrovic.

Bright, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic MI

students from all seven concentrations, eager to gain experience and learn what really happens in libraries, archives, law firms, government institutions, banks, large and small for-profit and non-profit organizations.

Each co-op student is responsible for sending an application to the employer, completing an interview, if invited, and obtaining an offer of employment.

Prior to starting a co-op work term, students will have gained fundamental knowledge of the field, since they will have had completed their required courses as well as career preparation workshops, which will give them insight into ‘real world’ work situations.

How does the Co-Op work?

The Co-op program is an opportunity to apply knowledge, in a real world situation, and gain academic credit for it. It allows MI students to complete two consecutive, paid, full-time co-op work terms and gain professional experience in their field of study. All co-op employers will have an option to hire a co-op student for two continuous terms. MI Co-op students will have the chance to work for two 4-month periods, or one 8-month period.

Co-op students will also need to go through a standard job application process in which employers choose and interview candidates.

Who is Eligible?

The 2015-2016 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: (1) Be a current full-time first year MI student, who is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada, or international student OR (2) Be an MI student in a concentration only path. Students completing a thesis are not eligible for the MI Co-op.

Do students earn an academic credit?

Yes. Each work term is considered a course. Once accepted into the co-op, students will enroll in two co-op courses, each worth 0.5 (FCE) credits. These courses will be graded “credit/non-credit” and will appear on a student’s transcript. Also, the Director and/or the Coordinator of the Co-op will make a site visit and meet with the employer during the work term.

Why is experiential learning important?

There is quite a bit of research on the value of experiential learning. Overwhelmingly, it shows that students who gain practical experience during their studies are more likely to find employment in relevant fields following graduation. An Experiential Learning Report published by the Council of Ontario Universities in March 2014 indicates that graduates who gained relevant work experience have an advantage over their peers. Since employment is important to current as well as prospective students, universities are proposing more experiential opportunities across all disciplines.

Are work terms guaranteed?

No. Students will be provided support during this process, but it is their responsibility to apply for and obtain a co-op position. The Director and the Co-op Coordinator will be available to assist students and provide them with guidance. The Co-op Coordinator will be posting available co-op opportunities for all co-op students. This is a common practice among the co-op programs in Ontario and Canada.

What happens if a student does not make it into the co-op program?

In case a student is not successful in obtaining the co-op option, they 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. Furthermore, co-op students are expected to return from their co-op work terms to complete their academic requirements.

For more information about the co-op option, please send an email to: ischool.coop@utoronto.ca

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