“It’s about an organisation seeing beyond three to five years and thinking about the next 10 to 15 years,” - Anna Cranston, Dalhousie University
“Creating Co-op positions is not about simply doing a good thing, students are actually influencing a business’ bottom line,” says Anna Cranston, Director of Management Career Services at Dalhousie University. “Students are bringing new ideas and applying their learning to help organizations.”
The Halifax Partnership’s report: A Generation of Change found that early career opportunities is one of the most significant components currently missing in Nova Scotia and contributing to the outmigration of our region’s young talent.
Dalhousie University’s Co-op and Career Services Offices are changing the game by bridging this gap.
Last year, Dalhousie students completed more than 1,600 co-op work terms; with close to 950 of these in Nova Scotia.
“What I hear consistently from employers about Dalhousie’s Co-op students is that they roll-up their sleeves and get to work,” says Doug Gallant, Director of the Dalhousie University’s Science, Information Technology, and Engineering Co-operative Education Group. “Our students contribute much more than they cost. Dalhousie’s Science, Computer Science and Engineering Co-op students are helping employers solve real technical challenges and making real contributions to their operations.”
By working to connect businesses with students, Dalhousie’s co-op, corporate residency and internship programs help to solve short-term talent needs while giving students work experience and professional contacts in Halifax.
“We provide that extra arm of support to employers as they create employment opportunities for students and new graduates,” says Cranston. “Internships and co-ops can be customized for the needs of the business. We’re here to make it easy for employers who want to partner with us.”
The Value of Co-ops and Internships
“There are employers across Canada rolling out the red carpet to attract talent,” says Cranston. “If Nova Scotia businesses choose not to engage with local talent, they’ll just go elsewhere.”
With an annual net loss of 1,300 people, between the ages of 20 and 29, leaving our province - Cranston’s point resonates.
“It’s about an organisation seeing beyond three to five years and thinking about the next 10 to 15 years,” says Cranston. “These co-op students will continue to grow in their careers and will one day become future leaders and managers; why not train the best now?”
Here are some of the bright minds who have been able to stay and work in Halifax using connections from their co-op and work placement experience:
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Chris Dyer Chris is a Bachelor of Management student finishing a 12-month Internship at Destination Halifax
"Working for 12 months has provided me with a relevant, meaningful experience. Finding a job in Halifax was important to me as it allowed me to stay close to friends, as well as build business relationships in the largest city on the east coast. None of this would have been possible without the partnerships Dalhousie has with so many local employers that were seeking students."
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Eric Jorgensen Eric completed his Corporate Residency in August with Deloitte and will be graduating this May with his MBA. Eric will continue to work for Deloitte after graduation.
"My corporate residency at Deloitte provided unrivaled exposure to a variety of industries and challenging projects that included valuable client-facing experience, and the opportunity to learn from, and work with, an outstanding team of professionals. I now have the pleasure of calling them my colleagues after securing an offer for full-time employment after graduation."
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Jialin Luo Jialin graduated from Dalhousie with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in May 2015 and is currently working at Marsh Canada in account administration and enrolled in the CPA program.
"Because of Dalhousie's co-op program, I was able to obtain practical work experience in Halifax which was really valuable in the job hunt."
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Quin MacKenzie Quin is a recent Corporate Residency MBA graduate who successfully landed a full-time job with Stantec after graduation."
"Through my residency, I was able to accelerate my career and gain first-hand experience in the field of consulting. My corporate residency opened the door to my current role as a Sustainable Development Consultant at Stantec."
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Nathan Merrithew Nathan was a Masters of Architecture Student at Dalhousie who is now currently employed with TEAL Architects in Halifax.
"In the months leading up to a co-op, I scrambled to find work. However, the whole process of job searching helped to demystify the profession and was a great way to make contacts in the city. Currently, I am happily settled at TEAL Architects+Planners, Inc. I give them credit for keeping up the tradition of not only hiring a student, but paying me a good wage, involving me at all levels of business, and setting a great example for businesses across Halifax."
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Robert Miller Robert studied Industrial Engineering at Dalhousie and after graduation secured a full-time position as a Continuous Improvement Engineer at Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax.
"I did three co-op positions in three different industries and it can really give you a sense of what's out there. The experience gives co-op graduates a competitive advantage to career opportunities, and I was fortunate enough to use that experience to get a job in Halifax."
Other ways to Bridge the Gap
For organizations who might not be able to create co-op and internship positions, Dalhousie offers other ways to support and engage young talent in experiential learning opportunities:
- Talent Pool helps employers recruit and hire recent and upcoming grads from Dalhousie programs.
- myCareer is a free online resource through Dalhousie’s Co-op and Career Offices where employers can post jobs and book on-campus information sessions or schedule interviews.
- Workplace Experience Program provides international students within Dalhousie’s Bachelor of Commerce program the chance to gain exposure to the Canadian workplace by matching an international student with an organization based on their career interests for a minimum of 35 unpaid hours.
- Applied Research Projects enable students to complete projects for organizations as part of a course curriculum. RSB Connect is one example of this type of work-integrated-learning. Designed for students in the Rowe School of Business, they work in teams to develop options for addressing strategic marketing or management solutions and produce an implementation report at little or no cost to the patterning organisation.
“We want our young people to see their future here”, says Cranston. “We need to work together to ensure that staying in Nova Scotia can be, at very least a valid option, but preferably, the best choice for them”.
As a city, every business has a role to play in closing the outmigration gap and retaining our young professionals.
For more information on how you can get your organization involved in Dalhousie University’s Co-op programs, visit: http://www.dal.ca/academics/cooperative_education.html.