The Orbis Approach to Co-op
22 March, 2017
Don’t know where to start? – it’s easy. Use the CAFCE directory to find a post-secondary institution near you that offers co-op in a program that might fit your needs
How We Hire:
We post our co-op jobs with our local universities and colleges the semester before we intend to hire. Co-op programs typically follow a two or three term process which means students are available for work between: September – December, January – April, and May – August. Hiring a student for a September start typically requires posting opportunities in May – as that’s when students looking to secure work for September will begin their search. Co-op programs differ across programs and institutions with some offering work terms ranging from 4, 8 or 12 months. To find out what works for you reach out to an institution and find out what they offer.
When interviewing, we treat the co-op process differently than hiring for a full-time position. We don’t give previous work experiences much clout; especially if the student is on their first work term. We have made the decision to instead focus our questions on their in-class work, group projects, what excites them about their field of study, and our industry. We primarily hire software developers – so we focus a lot of our questions on the technology they use on their own time, their projects, hobbies etc. We encourage students to bring laptops or tablets to the interview and show us the work they are proud of. This has been a great way to make them feel comfortable in the interview and give them the opportunity to really open up and discuss their talent and passion
Don’t expect the interview process to be perfect: it won’t be. Remember that most students are working with limited to no interview experience. If you want the best candidates for your business, your interview process should reflect that. Build your interview in a way that excuses a lack of professional polish, but encourages the answers that showcase the skills and talent you are looking for.
How We On-Board:
Once we’ve hired a new co-op student, we work hard to have a list of relevant tasks and projects ready to go when they arrive. On a student’s first day we clearly walk through expectations – what we expect from them, as well as what they can expect from us. We will also ask them, what they are hoping to gain from this experience, and how we can best support them. We pair our co-op students with a senior member of our team who is responsible for mentoring the student and working with them throughout the term. Our students are seated next to their supervisor and we start them with real tasks and projects immediately. We include our co-op students in staff meetings, company events, and any training sessions, and encourage them to be part of our office culture.
How We Off-Board:
At the end of the co-op term, we sit down with our student, their mentor, and a member of our senior management team to discuss how the work term went. We talk about what they learned, the skills they have built, and, if there is an interest we discuss the option of the student returning to us for their future work terms.
We have found this approach helps the student to communicate their experience to their peers and apply it their classroom learning once they have returned to school. From an organizational perspective, it helps us look at what worked (and what didn’t) and ways to evolve our program. From a marketing perspective, having a student return to school and speak positively about their experience is a great way to position your organization as a desirable place of employment for engaged students who want the opportunity to make a difference.
For students who are in their graduating year, we take the opportunity to outline the benefits of full-time employment with our organization and if the opportunity exists then we may make a full-time offer of employment at that time.
SINCERELY – THE ORBIS TEAM