Due to a popular request from the ECE Class of 2020, I compiled a list of possible co-op positions one can apply to in the Jobmine system (to be replaced by WaterlooWorks in the future). Note that this list is based off of my experience as a co-op student, so it may be different for others. Some people also want a detailed description as to how the co-op system works, so I also included it in this post as well. Enjoy!
What sort of jobs you can apply to on Jobmine?
1. Software Developer/Web Developer/Software Engineering
This is probably the most popular job on the Jobmine system. As the name suggests, you will be involved in working on the company’s software projects, whether it be for clients or for internal purposes. The programming languages will vary, depending on what the company uses to develop their software. They can also range from working on the backend of websites (or front end), to developing Android or iOS apps. You will use their own version control system, as well as writing code that follows their design patterns.
2. Embedded Systems Developer
Sounds kinda fancy…well this type of job is typically all about interfacing between the hardware and the software. Typically you will need to know some low to mid level languages such as C, C++, VHDL, and maybe even assembly. In some cases, you may be required to know how to operate signal generators and oscilloscopes.
3. Quality Assurance Engineering
One of the other jobs many will encounter are the QA positions. These positions typically require you to do testing on the products itself. Typically, you will need to know general troubleshooting/debugging skills to find out the errors and report them back to the developers. You may also need to know what unit tests and code coverage is. Testing of products can be a hardware product that the engineering team is working on, but it can be a software product.
4. Business Analyst
This role is generally about taking the user requirements and passing them onto developers. There isn’t really much I can say about this role other than the fact that if something is wrong from either the client side or the developers side, they both blame it on the business analyst team.
5. IT Support
A lot of first year students tend to take on IT jobs for their first co-op. In general, managers will get co-ops to handle daily IT support calls from users, whether it be for internal users or external users. Besides that, they will also deal with reloading laptops and other stuff.
6. Various engineering roles
There are various other jobs that require specific skills such as developing CAD designs for their mechanical designs (?), or managing network infrastructure for cell phones (aka telecommunications), etc.
7. Miscellaneous Jobs
At last, these are the jobs that don’t fall into the jobs mentioned above. These are probably more suitable for other programs. Typical jobs include accounting, bookkeeping, research assistant at Waterloo or other universities, general business and other business administration jobs in the office, etc.
How the Waterloo Co-op system works
You will typically apply for co-op jobs the term before your actual co-op term starts (with a few exceptions that I will mention later). For first year students, stream 4 will apply in 1A for their winter co-op term, and stream 8 will apply in 1B for their spring/summer co-op term. How the hiring process works is that generally, there will be a massive round of jobs being posted in Jobmine (known as the “first round”). Students would apply to these jobs a week or two into the term. Shortly after, there will be a second massive round of job postings (aka “second round”), which generally occurs a week after the first round. You can only apply to a total of 50 jobs from both the first and second rounds.
Once the two rounds of job applications are done, you would probably be at the end of the first month of the term (or close to it). From then on until the end of the second month, employers will review the applications and select applicants to interview. One thing to note is that the employer will not contact you directly; they will submit their choices on Jobmine, and CECA will notify you via your Waterloo email. It will tell you what day your interview will take place, and to go onto Jobmine to select a time slot for your interview. Most interviews happen on campus, however there can be a small handful that can happen off campus. One thing to note is that you must attend all on campus interviews. Failure to satisfy this may lead to you being banned from Jobmine for two terms.
After when all the interviews for the main round are over (usually at the end of the second month), rankings open up. What do I mean by this? Well, after the interviews are done, employers are required to submit their rankings on Jobmine. How this works is that each student that they interviewed will be ranked from one to nine, one being the one that the employer wants to hire. The employer reserves the right to not rank students as well. Rankings are then released at the end of the main round of interviews. At that time, students will go online and submit their rankings from one to nine, one being the job that they want. Students must submit their rankings; any unsubmitted ranks will automatically go in as a nine. Note that although rankings will be released to students at the end of the second month, you will not know how you are ranked. If you were given a ‘1’ by the employer, it will show up on Jobmine as “Offer”. Anything between 2 to 9 will show up as “Ranked”, and if you were not ranked, it will show up as “Not Ranked”. You cannot rank an employer that did not rank you.
Once rankings are submitted by the student, CECA will run their matching algorithm. How it works in general is that it takes your ranks and the employer ranks and adds them together. The algorithm will then try to match you with the job with the least sum. If the job is taken already, then the next least sum, etc. CECA will inform you to check on Jobmine to see the results of the match. If you have been matched with a job, congratulations! You may now proceed to contact your employer and deal with the administrative stuff that they have for you prior to the start of your work term.
If you have not been matched, don’t worry! After this round, you will enter the continuous rounds, where you essentially repeat this entire process again, except that it happens each week (so applying, interviewing, and rankings all happen each week). The continuous rounds will continue from the third month until the end of final exams for the term.
Note that although most employers will follow this cycle, a selected few will not. For example, applying to various government jobs on Jobmine is a very long process, and it can’t be done the term before the work term starts. Usually these postings will be advertised two to three terms ahead of your work term, and CECA will notify you via email about such postings. Why is it so long? Well, according to my brother who is currently in this process, they do a lot of background and security checks, and for some jobs, require you to apply to take a firearm test (both written and practical), before you even reach the interview stage.
…and that’s it! I hope you guys found this information helpful. If you guys have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. To understand how the co-op process works from an employer perspective, I wrote a post about it, so you can click here to read it.