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Engineering a career

Securing work terms becoming a creative and strategic process

Student Life

By Jackey Locke

Each term at Memorial, more than 400 engineering students secure co-op work term placements, nationally and internationally.

During these times of economic uncertainty, however, engineering students are demonstrating more independent, entrepreneurial and creative job seeking efforts.

Resourceful and persistent

“The majority of students in my class have started to think outside of the box if we define “the box” as the default option of securing a work term,” said Joshua Shaw, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student who is currently on his third work term.

He encourages his fellow students to be resourceful and persistent when in pursuit of a position.

“Finding and securing my own work terms haven’t been easy, but have been valuable learning experiences for me and students should treat them as such,” said Mr. Shaw.

“Applying to the internal postings on My MUNLife – the online job posting system that the Engineering Co-op Education Office uses to post co-op job opportunities – alone is not enough.”

Preparation for the future

Dr. Greg Naterer, dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, echoes Mr. Shaw’s advice to students.

“Being creative and proactive in seeking out job opportunities is an important skill for students to develop.” — Dr. Greg Naterer

“We recognize the stress on students when seeking work terms, but encourage them to be positive and pursue work opportunities within and outside the province,” he said.

Dr. Greg Naterer
Dr. Greg Naterer
Photo: Chris Hammond

“Being creative and proactive in seeking out job opportunities is an important skill for students to develop, since engineers will move from job to job throughout their careers.”

Rigorous program

Mr. Shaw is currently working at DECA Aviation.

“When I spoke with the operations manager at DECA, I indicated my interest in the aviation field and that I would be simultaneously earning a private pilot licence if I secured a work term with DECA,” he said.

“My willingness to relocate for work and my enthusiasm for the industry resonated well.”

Memorial’s engineering program is rigorous: students must successfully complete at least four work terms and eight academic study terms to graduate.

Due to the co-op component, students gain up to two years of invaluable industry work experience and networking opportunities prior to graduation. Mr. Shaw says he would not have enrolled at Memorial if its engineering program was not a co-operative program.

Number of initiatives

Engineering Co-op Education Office members work tirelessly each semester to find work term opportunities for students and assist with resumés and interview preparation. However, they cannot secure the jobs for students; ultimately, the employer decides who to interview and hire.

The faculty has also launched several initiatives to add further opportunities for students on co-op terms.

A new Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship provides entrepreneurial work terms for students. New community-based, experiential work terms offer students the opportunity to gain experience in their profession, and reinforce social and ethical values of the engineering profession by contributing to community activities. Students can also apply for a research assistantship with a professor.

A new co-op job database has also been launched, called JobFinder@MUN. It collects and displays engineering co-op positions posted on several popular external career websites for students to easily access.

“Persistence and perseverance”

In addition, the faculties of business administration and engineering and applied science have created a new international fund to support students on international work-term placements.

“We deeply care about student success and the continuing strong reputation of our co-op programs.” — Dr. Greg Naterer

“Persistence and perseverance are important skills to develop and will serve our students well throughout their careers,” said Dr. Naterer.

“Our co-op program was recently awarded a six-year accreditation by the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education. The association was impressed with the quality of our co-op programs and placement rates. We deeply care about student success and the continuing strong reputation of our co-op programs.”

Since 1969 Memorial’s Engineering Co-operative Education Program has placed tens of thousands of co-op students worldwide in more than 40 countries on six continents.

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