Feb. 8, 2016

Inaugural event celebrates co-op and internship student program

Arts and science faculties present awards to students and employers providing valuable workplace experience

Co-operative education and internship programs provide students with valuable workplace experience. An inaugural awards presentation took place on Feb. 4, recognizing outstanding student contributions and employers who supported science and arts co-op programs in 2015.

Lesley Rigg, dean of the Faculty of Science, and Virginia Tumasz, associate dean of the Faculty of Arts, presented the awards to student recipients from various areas of study such as international relations, communications, economics and computer science.

Rigg and Tumasz also welcomed representatives from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, WestJet, AdFarm, Bassbus, Precision Drilling, Husky Energy, Hitachi ID Systems, Nureva and Computer Modelling Group. These employers were all recognized for the great support they provided University of Calgary students last year.

Student makes an impact on human rights work

Leah Schmidt, arts co-op student of the year, made a strong impact in her time with Amnesty International.

“It is not an overstatement to say that Leah's work during her time at Amnesty International had a measurable impact on our human rights work,” says Tarah Demant, senior director, identity and discrimination unit at Amnesty International USA.

“Not only did her work do a service to Amnesty International, but it was a testament to the quality of students at U of C and the impact they can have in the world."

'To them, I was not an intern but a co-worker'

Nicole Laursen, a computer science student, explains how valued she felt during her internship experience at Precision Drilling, a science employer of the year.

“Right off the bat, we talked about goals and how they could be expanded or improved as well as other areas I might be interested in," says Laursen. "I worked like all of the other SAP developers. To them, I was not an intern but a co-worker.”

Work experience benefits students and employers

Work experience is increasingly relevant as the economy undergoes challenging times. More students see the value of adding a year of work experience and developing a professional network through participation in co-op and internship programs.

The employers, who recruit, hire and mentor, reap the benefit of the students’ skills, energy and desire to learn as they transition from university studies to careers.  

A collaborative arts and science advisory board — made up of co-op and internship employers, students, faculty and staff — created these awards to recognize contributions and also raise awareness of the impact of work experiences for both students and employers. The award presentations are funded for 2015 and 2016 through a Student Union Quality Money Grant.

Both the arts co-op program and science co-op and internship program welcome new participants and can help connect employers with student employees.