Interested in applying for the Humanities and Fine Arts (HUFA) co-op program? I’ll give you a rundown on what to do and what to expect.
How co-op works
First, you have to apply for the co-op program. For more details on specific requirements, see the Fall 2016/Spring 2017 Application Form [PDF].
The intake for the co-op program is in September and January. However, even if you only plan to work during the summer, I would recommend applying in September. That way, you’ll be finished all the prep work and be ready to start applying to jobs right away in January.
Work-Term Preparation Seminars
When you first apply to co-op, you’ll be required to attend a series of seminars that are designed to help students succeed in the program. When I did them in 2014, all the new co-op students and the coordinator met every Friday for an hour for a number of weeks in a row.
- competency development
- cover letter and résumé writing
- networking strategies
- interview techniques
During these seminars, the co-op coordinator will teach you a number of skills to help you in your job search. (The current HUFA co-op coordinator is Allison Benner.) The resume seminar in particular really helped me re-vamp my resume. In addition to resume and cover letter writing practice, you’ll be required to complete a mock interview.
Applying for jobs
Usually before being released to the job board, you are required to meet with the co-op coordinator to have a discussion about the types of jobs you might be interested in and where you might want to work.
Before my first work term, I was open for anything. I just wanted a “real” job. Now, after three work terms, I have significant work experience and can afford to be a little more selective. If you are interested in working a particular type of job or for a particular company, let Allison know. That way, she might be able to give you a heads-up if the type of job you’re looking for comes up. If you are interested in working for a particular company, she might even look into it for you.
Once you’ve completed all the seminar requirements, you’ll be released to the job board and can begin applying to jobs. Although most students only do co-ops during the summer months, lots of jobs get posted for the Fall and Spring semesters as well. If you are open to working during those semesters, let Allison know.
If an employer likes your application, they will invite you for an interview. Where the job is located will dictate the format of the interview; I’ve done in-person, phone, and Skype interviews. (From experience: If you have a choice, don’t choose Skype. Too many things can go wrong.)
If you do well on the interview, you may be lucky enough to get a job offer. If you don’t, that’s okay to. Before my first work term, I applied to fifteen jobs and did four interviews before I was offered a job. Don’t give up.
During the work term
Unfortunately, co-op isn’t free. But you only have to pay once you’ve accepted the job. For the last work term I did, it was just over $600.
Part of being a co-op student is tracking your competency development. At the beginning each work term, you will set goals based on competencies you would like to improve on. You’ll reflect on your progress halfway through the work term and again at the end.
At the mid-point of the work term, the co-op coordinator will arrange a work-site visit to meet with you and your employer. The visit is designed to facilitate a conversation between you and your employer about how the work term is going so far.
After you finish your work term, you’ll submit a final report. This report can take many formats: Final Report Options [PDF].
For more information and official dates, check out the UVic Co-op website and click the Humanities and Fine Arts tab.
If you need further convincing about why you should do co-op, Making your history degree work for you: Seven reasons why you should do co-op.
Any questions? Leave a comment or send me a message.