Hi, it’s Anson! Hope your first few weeks back on campus have been fantastic!
When I was elected, one of the things I promised to do was to improve communication between you as a student and the various committees and councils I sit on as VP Ed. This week I attended my first two meetings, and here is the first of what will be a series of regular academic- and coop-related updates!
The New JobMine: WaterlooWorks
For those who don’t know, WaterlooWorks is the job search platform that will be taking over JobMine starting Winter 2017. I met with representatives from CECA, where we discussed the current progress with implementation, ways to improve student engagement, and viewed a demo of the system.
WaterlooWorks is now actually into a 1-year launch delay, and many students were curious to find out why. One major thing I learned from this meeting is that the main reason for the delay is that WaterlooWorks was not built to accommodate a number of co-op students as large as Waterloo. Unlike JobMine, WaterlooWorks was not developed by the University of Waterloo, but was instead purchased from a third party. The platform that WaterlooWorks is based on is used at schools such as Guelph and Laurier, so it was not entirely unfounded that this particular software was chosen to replace JobMine, which was in definite need for an update as you probably know from user experience.
WaterlooWorks Home Page; projected launch in Winter 2017
Anyway: due to the fact that we have so many students, basic JobMine features need to be transferred onto the WaterlooWorks platform, and this is the main reason for delay. For example, on JobMine, when employers choose students to interview, they simply need to select those who are selected and their alternates. On the purchased platform, employers need to go down the list of applicants and indicate “Selected,” “Not Selected,” or “Alternate” for EVERY single student who applied. You can imagine that this is not feasible for jobs with hundreds of applicants. Another hiccup is that the “Alternate” feature was not part of the replacement software, and unlike JobMine, WaterlooWorks will currently not automatically schedule in alternate candidates into an interview when selected candidates withdraw. Both of these faults are being constantly manually rectified by CECA staff right now during the testing phase with Architecture, but before they are automated, WaterlooWorks cannot launch to the rest of the co-op programs due to sheer volume.
CECA does aim to have functional development complete by the end of the year, and I’ll have more updates for you later.
Fun Fact: On WaterlooWorks, employers will be able to submit personal comments to students along with ranking results, including details such as salary and interview feedback if they choose, and this will hopefully help with the selection process from a student point of view.
A second meeting I attended was with the Co-op Working Group. This committee aims to improve the co-op experience, and reviews strategies for getting as many students employed as possible.
In terms of numbers, we are expecting 3186 engineering students to enter the Winter 2016 co-op term (176 more than Winter 2015, 68 of which are students entering their first work term). There are a few strategies to try to maximize employment with this increased number.
First is that CECA will advertise Student Team volunteer co-ops more, and to provide support to student supervisors in order to make these experiences more valuable to students on a work term. Faculty advisors will be encouraged to be more proactive in providing guidance, and workshops will be run for students who will supervise co-op students.
Second is that opportunities for “Foundational Work Terms” will be advertised starting in continuous round. A foundational work term is essentially a hands-on position in an engineering environment that deals with assembly and no design, e.g. working in a production line. These positions will still count for co-op credit, and job descriptions will clearly outline the job responsibilities.
Finally, if you were ever curious about whether the 99% employment rate that Waterloo advertises in the brochures is accurate, it turns out that it is. The 99% just includes students employed in unpaid or research positions at the university as well as the standard paid co-ops, and this is why it may be misleading. The university is working on finding more representative metrics that will better indicate the co-op environment.
Fun Fact: A certain school deliberately arranges their co-op deadlines to be before ours, so that employers can hire their students before they hire ours.
That’s it for now. If you would ever like more details (and I always have them), or have any questions or concerns, you’re welcome to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Best of luck with job search!