UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 8 | June
No Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer
Co-op programs make for a year round curriculum. by Helen Lewis
While most students head for the mountains and beaches, 543 UBC
students are embarking on summer experiences of a different kind
- building their future careers through co-op placements.
UBC's commitment to co-operative education began more than 15 years
ago with the faculties of Applied Science and Science. The faculties
of Commerce and Business Administration, Forestry and Arts have
since launched their own co-op programs, matching hundreds of students
with employers for work terms each year.
Co-op students spend about four to eight months working in monitored,
paid positions where they apply their academic learning in a work
environment. This summer, 70 arts students, 69 commerce students,
29 wood products processing students and 375 science students are
completing placements in British Columbia, Canada and overseas.
Josh Homewood's first day on placement saw him taste-testing sweets
and touring a chocolate factory. Homewood, a fourth-year marketing
major in the Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration, is
completing a three-month co-op placement as a marketing assistant
intern at confectionery giant Cadbury Trebor Allan Inc. in Toronto,
Ontario. He is working on the launch of new products and new strategies
for existing products.
"This is going to be an amazing summer -- the experience is
unparalleled," Homewood says. "It's an awesome work environment
with a lot of fun people. Another great thing about the job is that
I'll be able to see the product of my efforts in the near future.
I'll be able to walk into London Drugs or Safeway or Walmart and
say 'I worked on that!'"
Genomics is a hot field in molecular biology, and Science student
Jerrod Schwartz is in the thick of it with his co-op placement at
Agencourt Bioscience, Massachusetts. The fifth-year biochemistry
major is spending four months as a research associate, developing
novel applications for Agencourt's Solid Phase Reversible Immobilization
(SPRI) technology in the genomics and proteomics industry.
"It's such a great opportunity to be able to spend the summer
in a lively college town like Boston, while learning about new biochemical
techniques and doing cutting-edge research at a leading genomics
company," Schwartz says. "The professional contacts I've
made are an incredibly valuable resource.
Whether I apply to graduate school or begin looking for full-time
employment, I feel more confident now having completed co-op than
I did before. Being able to travel around North America, meet new
people, and experience different cultures has been an added bonus."
Fourth-year Faculty of Forestry student Jovan Larre has headed
to the east coast of Australia for her final co-op work term. Larre,
who is completing Wood Product Processing studies, is spending eight
months working for North Eden Timber on the Sapphire Coast, New
South Wales, assessing and improving the production of hardwood
floors, beds and wardrobes. "Working in a different country
allows me to combine work, travel and school. Where I am living
is incredible -- it's right on the ocean, very hilly and beautiful,"
Larre says. "Although Australian culture is quite similar to
Canadian, I am learning to deal with different types of people and
different techniques used in manufacturing. The people are great
here and I feel right at home, except for them driving on the wrong
side of the road!"
As a high school student, Julia Harrison volunteered for the Canadian
Breast Cancer Foundation's "Run For A Cure" fundraiser.
Now a third-year international relations major in the Faculty of
Arts, Harrison is completing her first co-op work term as a "Run
For A Cure" run assistant. She is spending seven months in
the foundation's Vancouver office helping to organize the fall event,
which attracted 115,000 participants across Canada in 2001.
The position involves everything from marketing strategy, research
and designing spreadsheets to dealing with run participants and
volunteers. "I'm loving the work and it's giving me great experience,"
Harrison says. "I think it will help me get a job -- I'm learning
more about working in an office environment, the team approach,
and gaining technical skills. I would encourage everyone to do this
sort of thing."
Third-year Applied Science student Paul Wieringa is spending four
months on a co-op placement at Deco Automotive in Ontario. Wieringa's
major is in Integrated Engineering, a new program meeting the industry
demand for engineers with a broad education and the ability to work
across disciplinary boundaries. As a summer engineering student,
he is conducting a feasibility study on integrating a new step in
the welding cell manufacturing process.
Wieringa says the placement is giving him great training in workplace
practices, and the chance to explore various aspects of the engineering
field, working with mechanical engineers and machinists.
"If I see an engineer doing something I find interesting,
I can ask to get involved. It's an opportunity for me to step up
to the plate, so to speak," he says. "I think this placement
will be a great experience. In my first two weeks, I've already
had a lot of exposure to new concepts and mindsets, as well as technology