Frequently Asked Questions (For Students)
The MES Summer Co-op is the final requirement for completing the MES Program. It occurs following 2 academic terms, and spans the months of May through August. A final report and presentation of the outcome of the co-op experience are required at the end of the term.
What is the purpose of the MES Summer Co-op? Are there specific skills or experience that I must obtain?
The purpose of the MES Summer Co-op is to allow the student an opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge obtained during the academic terms, to a real-world work setting. There is no list of prescribed skills or experience that the student must obtain, as the types of co-op positions and employers are so varied. The work must involve Environment & Sustainability themes and it is expected that the student will develop skills that are relevant to their particular MES Summer Co-op position. The employer and student will determine appropriate learning objectives early in the term, so that the co-op experience is meaningful for both.
The types of positions will likely vary from year-to-year, depending on the employer’s need, the economy, the distribution of available government funding/incentives to different sectors. Opportunities may be in the public, private, government or not-for-profit sector. Click here for a listing of past organizations.
Since the beginning of the MES program, the post-graduation employment rate has been quite high, and there have been instances where the work-term employer has hired the student directly into a full-time position. There are, however, no guarantees that you will get a full-time job after completing the MES Summer Co-op. This depends on the availability of jobs and on you. It is hoped that the co-op term will give you some practical work experience related to Environment & Sustainability that will enhance your resume and give you some direction as you begin your full-time job search.
There are no guarantees that any of the positions will be in London. The availability and location of co-ops cannot be determined before the academic term begins. Most organizations do not finalize summer hiring plans until early winter, sometimes later. With this in mind, you may want to consider an 8-month lease if you will be renting for the academic terms.
There may be international co-op job opportunities available from time-to-time. However, most positions will be located in Canada.
I am an international student. What requirements am I responsible for with respect to the MES Summer Co-op?
You will be required to obtain a work visa for the MES Summer Co-op. For more information, please visit www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/work-coop.asp. You can also visit Western’s International Student Services office
Each year there will be two pools of job postings: those that will be exclusive to MES students and those that will be available to all co-op students. In the latter case, the employer may advertise the job to other UWO programs, to other universities with similar programs, or more generally, at universities across Canada. There will be a range of competition for the non-exclusive job postings.
No, the MES Co-op Advisor cannot guarantee you an MES Summer Co-op. Much of the outcome depends on you – the effort you put into applying for positions, especially including resume quality; your skills and experience and how you communicate these both in writing and in person; your willingness to work anywhere and to perform a variety of work; the number of jobs you apply for; etc. The MES Co-op Office will do many things to support you in the search for your position. The MES Co-op Office will search for and post all known available positions; offer workshops and seminars on applying for and interviewing for jobs; provide review services for cover letters and resumes; coordinate interviews where possible, etc. The MES Co-op Office will continue to work with students one-on-one, if they are not initially placed, for a reasonable period of time.
The official MES summer co-op term is approximately 14-16 weeks of work, such that the total hours worked is within the range of 500 – 575.
Most jobs will begin the first Monday in May, unless previously stated. You may be able to negotiate a slightly different start-date with a valid reason. That will be between you and the employer. As for the end-date, you must ensure that you have achieved the required number of hours by your specified end date.
Your employer is not required to provide you with any vacation time. However, it may be possible to negotiate a day or two off, if your request is reasonable. Again, this is between you and the employer. If you have a known commitment (e.g. a family wedding) at the time of interview, this might be a good time to discuss this issue.
Yes, you will be required to pay tuition. You are still a UWO student with all its privileges. The MES Summer Co-op is a registered course in the third term of the program.
If you do not have a valid driver’s license, you should strongly consider obtaining one prior to the MES summer work term. Many government jobs require a driver’s license and many other positions require a license in order to travel on behalf of the business, particularly if the job involves visiting clients. You are severely limiting your prospects without a driver’s license (especially in your eventual full-time job search). It is also possible that you may be working with an employer who is located in an area without access to public transportation.
The list of MES summer co-op positions will be made available through Western’s Career Services’ web-site, CareerCentral. Students will be asked to log on to this system in September and check the site regularly for updates.
Yes, there are many resources available to assist you in both applying for and interviewing for positions. There will be group workshops provided specifically to MES students that outline how to apply for jobs using the on-line CareerCentral system; how to write a cover letter and resume; and how to conduct oneself in an interview. There are also services available for one-on-one application review. You are expected to take advantage of all these services prior to applying for positions.
Every MES student is required to complete an MES co-op term prior to graduation. All positions will require an approximate 4-month commitment, and all experiences are designed to offer you skills and hands-on experience that can be used to further your career later on. If you do not apply to the available positions, you run a great risk of not finding a co-op. The MES Co-op Office expects that you will put your best effort into any position that you eventually accept.
The interviews for most positions will either take place on campus or be conducted by remote means (e.g. telephone, video conference, etc.). In some cases, local employers may request that students come to their offices.
Students will be notified by email of all upcoming interviews. Due to the difficulty of scheduling interviews, students will be expected to attend their assigned time. If you have a valid conflict with the interview time (not the date), there may be an opportunity for some minor adjustments. You risk not being interviewed by that particular employer if you cannot attend.
You will be notified of your co-op by e-mail followed by a face-to-face meeting with the MES Co-op Advisor to review the details of the offer.
The MES Co-op Office will consider you officially placed immediately upon notification and a verbal acceptance. Next steps will include receiving a Letter of Offer from the employer and signing an MES Co-op Contract These two documents should be finalized within 2 or 3 weeks of notification.
Should I contact my new employer directly, prior to starting the co-op term or should I wait to be contacted?
If a few weeks have passed since receiving employment notification from the MES Co-op Office and no contact has been initiated by the employer, you should certainly feel comfortable in contacting the employer directly. This shows interest and enthusiasm on your part, particularly if you begin the conversation by stating that you are “really looking forward to working with them and simply want to confirm what you can do to be as prepared as possible.” You can write a letter or send an e-mail in order to confirm such things as the start-date and time, the length of the work day, the end-date, the name of your supervisor, any preparations the employer would like you to make, the dress code, etc.
There are several things you should do to prepare for your work-term. These include:
1. Complete any necessary documentation, security checks, etc. specifically required by your employer. Do so as quickly and as accurately as possible in order to avoid delaying the start-time. (Government security clearances take time on the government’s end.)
2. If re-location is involved, find appropriate housing for yourself.
- The employer may provide ideas.
- If there is a university or college in the city of employment, their web-site is a good place to start. There may be summer housing available on campus and certainly there will be links to other housing options for students.
- Consider rooming with another student who will be living in the same area.
3. Determine how you are going to get to work each day. This may mean obtaining a vehicle, even on a temporary basis (check into car pooling – larger companies may have organized pools); investigating available public transportation (check if the student discount policy will apply to you); investing in a bicycle and ensuring a safe route; locating close enough to walk to work, etc.
4. Review all information provided in your Student Contract Package.
5. Review your employer’s web-site and ensure familiarity with the business. Consider what you input you would like to have in completing the Learning Objectives.
6. Complete any other preparatory items requested by the employer.