Co-Operative Education and Volunteering
When we think of work we usually immediately think of compensation – which, in all fairness, is why we work. However, working for free or enrolling in what is called a co-operative education program can be quite beneficial for young individuals trying to get their foot in the door. It is usually offered to high school students and young adults working towards a high school diploma. Volunteering is also another way to get experience, so let’s take a deeper look into both of these options.
Co-operative education is aimed at both high school students and young adults who have not yet completed the requirements for a high school diploma. The student normally chooses their place of employment and is scheduled to come to class a few times a week to log in what they did at their workplace and what they learned.
Co-op placements, much like volunteering, gives hands on experience in the workplace. They do not differ much except that successful co-op students may be hired on by the employer upon successful completion of their assignment. In addition, students earn credits through the co-op program that go towards their high school diploma.
Co-op is perfect for students who have not yet graduated; not only will they receive credits, but they may also be setting themselves up for future employment.
Co-operative education is offered by all high schools and adult education centres in Ontario. Perquisites vary, but are not very strict. Check with your local high school or adult learning centre.
Volunteering is ideal for high school students who are either looking to complete their 40 hours of community service (which is a mandatory requirement for high school graduates) or students who would like to see more of the workplace, gain first hand exposure at working life and determine which career would most suit them.
In this day and age, networking is a must. By volunteering students can meet employers, build strong professional relationships with their colleagues and apply these skills to life after high school. Students can gain valuable workplace experience, use them as references and share their knowledge with classmates.
With so many employment opportunities, students can limit their career choices and choose the appropriate courses that will guide them to their chosen field of study.
Both volunteering and co-op serve as great chances to develop strong communication skills, familiarize yourself with the workplace and its people and get to know what career best suits you.
By engaging in volunteering or co-op, students will carry life long references and lessons brought on by early workplace exposure. This will follow students to and from college or directly to the workplace.