Co-Operative Education: First-hand industry experience

The HDCH Co-Operative Education program provides Grade 11 and 12 students with the opportunity to gain valuable, realistic employment experience, learn valuable first hand lessons about an industry or career field and earn high school credits towards their OSSD. The program is based on successful partnerships between HDCH and a range of businesses and organizations. Students are given in-school training and preparation, and then complete a full, sixteen week semester at their placement for either a half day or full day placement. Placements are available for students in all four pathways, including university, college, apprenticeship and workplace career strands.

The benefits of an HDCH Co-Op placement include:

  • Learning more about your strengths, interests and special skills
  • Exploring a career option through first-hand experience
  • Enhancing academic experiences and connecting to in-school courses
  • Developing industry/professional experience and skills
  • Improving maturity and self-confidence
  • Building a network of contacts in a student’s field of interest
  • Earning recognized certification and accreditation
  • Connecting with potential mentors to assist in a student’s career planning

What students said about HDCH Co-Op placements this semester:

“Co op gave me the opportunity to get a sense of the tasks and the roles of a police officer. Being able to talk to people at the placement about what they do allows a student  to challenge or confirm their career plan.” —MB, Hamilton Police Services, Use of Force Training Facility

“I enjoyed my co op.  It was a great company to work for, and I also realized I wanted to be outside and create a larger finished product so I will be returning to landscaping in the fall once I graduate.” —IB, New Electric (Cambridge): Commercial electrical installations

“I appreciate the way my boss demonstrated compassion when dealing with customers. People who needed a working computer on a limited budget, would come in and he would find a way to meet their needs at a fair price. I have always been interested in computers and my placement reaffirmed that this is an area I want to work with in the future.” —EB, Wintronics Computers: Repairing and building computers, customer service

“One of the habits I learned to demonstrate better was compassion. People who come in to a cancer clinic are not inherently miserable, but are going through difficult circumstances.  I learned not to judge them based on one interaction.  I want to pursue a career in health sciences, and I realized at my co op that there is a difference between being a great doctor and a good one and it has to do with how to relate to people and what they are going through. It was a great experience and not something you can learn as easily in a classroom.” —JD, Juravinski Cancer Centre : Assisting patients with the Symptom Assessment program, liason between hospital staff and patient families in Ambulatory Care and ICU

“My co op placement provided a great opportunity to do both “hands on” physio as well as gain experience in office work. This opportunity in both fields allowed me to realize that the administrative and business side is a better fit for me. As a result, I have applied to programs in that field for my post secondary education.” —CE, Caledonia Physio Therapy PT Health:  Assisted with Physio treatment, Office administration

“My placement at a dairy farm helped me to see what I wanted to do next. It’s something I know I love to do, and the placement helped me figure out what I already know and still need to learn. In talking with my supervisor, I also found out where the best programs are in this field. It would have been great to do it even longer so that I could have had a chance to do even more: hoof trimming, herd health and vaccinations, all of which I want to learn how to do.” —NF, Bellstead Farm: Dairy farming, field work and maintenance

“My placement at an art gallery gave me the opportunity to do a variety of jobs, from accounting and organizing membership contacts to executing a full scale art exhibition in our gallery. I am glad I did this placement since it normally would have been challenging to get a position as a gallery assistant in high school, and I was able to experience a different part of the world outside of the classroom by participating in an artistic industry.” —KJ, Hamilton Artists Inc.:  Gallery exhibit planning, office Administration, membership contact

“I worked with five different coding languages (SQL, Java, C Sharp, HTML, Java Script) at my placement with the Population Health Research Institute. The best learning experience was seeing how they all can work together when creating a project and learning how to work with others in a team environment. You could love coding in theory, but this placement actually shows you whether you could enjoy coding all day in an office setting.” —JR, Population Health Research Institute, Hamilton General Hospital: Coding, Health Management Survey Software Application Writing

“I enjoyed my two placements –both working with children and learning how to read medical imaging and understand what you are seeing. I already knew I wanted to work with pediatric nursing. My placement helped me to realize that I love health care and treating diseases and illnesses and confirmed my career direction. I learn visually and through hands on experiences. Even though I couldn’t find a placement in a specific nursing field, I was able to combine two placements (working in a classroom and working with an imaging clinic) and created co op “outside the box” that still related to what I wanted to do.” —CR, Dundas Medical Imaging: Tech assistant for X Ray and ultra sound imaging

“I didn’t realize how much science went into hairdressing. It was a struggle at the beginning, learning how to mix chemicals & to get it right and there are many ratios to follow. Getting a chance to “test drive” this career confirmed that I want to do hairdressing and esthetics full time. The staff at the salon helped by recommending schooling options and how to stand out from other applicants. In the future, I will hold myself to very high standards for my work because of the people I worked with at Enliven Day Spa & Salon. Hairdressing and esthetics is a difficult job to do well and it requires artistry which I learned everyday at the spa. The only way for me to learn was to get my hands involved in the work. If I had just gone from high school right to college, I wouldn’t have picked up all this first hand experience beforehand. I am so grateful for the opportunity my co-op had on my life and the experiences I gained because of it.” —MVD, Enliven Health Spa:  Hair treatments,  Esthetics and Reception/Office Administration