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©2000 Zhan Huan Zhou
Updated Jan-01-2000

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A Cooperative Mess

©1999 Zhan Huan Zhou, Spring 1998, Issue 1

Welcome back to all of the dedicated readers of this column (if there are any.) Just like I promised at the end of last term, I'm back, still taking one Zhance after another.

I hope you all had a very joyous work term. If you are going back to your employer for another term, you just wasted $411.00. If you are not going back to your employer and are finding a job on your own, you just wasted $411.00. If you are not going back to your employer and are going through the co-op process, you just wasted $411.00. If you are a student in the co-op program, you just wasted $411.00.

Zhances are that if you are reading this, you are an engineer or a student here for the summer term and therefore a student in the co-op program. How do you feel about wasting $411.00 for each of your eight academic terms? That totals to $3288.00 for your entire academic career here, not including any increases that may happen in the next few years. That's enough to cover a full term of tuition plus books. I find this to be a ludicrous waste of money.

Let me examine where my $411.00 went for each of my three completed terms here at UW:

Fall 1996: I was a stream eight frosh. I wasn't even looking for a co-op job this term. I'm sure my $411.00 helped to fill some staff wallets.

Winter 1997: I finally found out where my money was going. An antiquated job search computer system that was ridiculously slow, useless co-op seminars and resume proofreaders who write 'good' on every resume they see. Oh, and how can I forget, free coffee for the interviewers. I was starting to feel better about spending $411.00 as I finally understood where my money was going.

Fall 1997: My $411.00 was really well spent this term. Several of my resumes didn't even show up on Access. I know I applied for them because I had interviews with some of these companies later. When I inquired about these lost resumes at Co-op reception, they simply said, "It happens all the time. It happened 6 times to someone last term." It's nice to know that Co-op takes good care when forwarding resumes to employers. But wait, there's more. On two occasions, I didn't find out when or where my interview was until the day of the interview. Not in the morning, but during the day. Fortunately, my interview was in the morning (I almost missed it.) What happened to that 24-hour notice? My guess is that they were using our money to upgrade Access. Some improvements that I noticed were that it crashed more frequently, updated progressively later in the night and ran noticeably slower. Luckily, I was responsible and got up early every morning to check Access. When it was not updated, I would trek down to Needless Hell and check with the trustworthy reception desk to make sure I wouldn't miss an interview. I almost missed an interview, but not quite. For one position, I was initially rejected. This was okay because I had something important the day of the interview anyway. It turns out that the day before the interview, the rejection becomes an interview. I didn't have time to change my interview time with anyone because it was too late, so I filled out a form to miss my interview. I decided on skipping my other meeting to attend the interview because I wanted the job. So, I went into Co-op early the next morning to inform them that I could in fact make it to my scheduled time. One problem, they forget to inform the interviewers. Not expecting me to come my interview was scheduled right before the lunch break so the interviewers went out for lunch earlier. By the time they got back, I could have easily made my other meeting and been back, but good old reliable Co-op was helpful as usual. As a final kick in the butt, I lost an offer because I followed the advice of the Co-op office. Boy did I get screwed over. I do think that my money was very well spent.

I do believe that cooperative education is inherently a good idea, especially in engineering, however the administration at Waterloo is a joke to the system. I am disgusted and fed-up with the Office of Cooperative Education. I would withdraw my $411.00 instantly if it wasn't necessary to stay in the co-op system.

What is the moral of this story? The Co-op Office is an inefficient, money sucking load of crap. They encourage us to return to our employer for a second term, not for our benefit, but for theirs. They take $411.00 from us when it makes their job easier. They also stay on the good side of the employers when students return. Does Co-op really put the student first? Does Co-op even care about the student?