Hiring Co-op or Part-time students

These notes are intended to document the process of hiring a co-op student, getting them started, assigning duties, reporting procedures and other related issues. Note that we have a number of different types of co-op student - the most common are UW co-op students (first year and above). We also can have Waterloo County Board of Education high-school students.

How to recruit co-op students

UW co-op students

The employers website for Co-operative Education and Career Services has lots of information about the UW co-op process; this wiki page will have as many details and specifics as practical.

The UW co-op cycle runs during each UW term, with preset term start- and end- date suggestions (employers may negotiate different dates with the applicant co-ops; the main requirement is that it runs at least 12 weeks of employment). Co-ops are paid out of our budget; we have paid them the average amount listed on CECS's site for a given co-op's work-term number and their program. The grid of average hourly/weekly pay is available on uwaterloo.ca/co-operative-education.

CSCF establishes UW co-op salaries once a year, in the February timeframe. This co-incides with the availability of "recent" salary information and also aligns with the University fiscal year and budget process. See https://cs.uwaterloo.ca/twiki/view/CFPrivate/CoOpSalaryCalculations for details.

The interview cycle requires advance preparation; for example the 2009 Fall term "first round" job-listing deadline was May 13. After the first round, there are "continuous rounds" which match up as many students as will apply (a lower number than in the first round). First round is advantageous because you get an earlier choice of applicants; in continuous round, earlier stages are advantageous for the same reason- with the added caveat that applicants will remove themselves from consideration as they find a successful match. (The summer 2009 job-matching process had us interview after 3 continuous-round sets; we went from 20 applicants to 13 choices to 7 choices remaining to 5 choices remaining!) CECS information about cycle dates is here.

UW co-op Pre-Interview

CECS has an established process for job registration, selecting applicants to interview, interviewing, and hiring co-ops. They have staff to answer questions; in summer 2009 we were assigned Linda Blain, lblain, x35628. The job registration form has the following questions whose answers are non-obvious:

  • Student level(s): Note that even if you only list Intermediate and Senior, Junior applicants may apply.
  • Disciplines of Interest: for a software developer, we decided on: MATH (All), ENG (Computer), ENG (Software), and ENG (Systems Design).
  • Job Description: See below.
  • Interview Date: left this blank, talked to the Employer Advisor since we were in Continuous Round.
  • 30-minute Group Session: initially said "no" but it became clear it was a good idea: a 30 minute group session allows the interviewers to not have to repeat themselves describing the details for each interviewee; the time-savings allows for shorter and more focused interviews.
Sample Job Description:

Web Developer
You'll be working on a LAMP-based campus information management system 
designed to organize and build reports on faculty teaching, research, and
other activities.  

You will work as a full member of the development team, which consists of
staff, faculty, and other students. 

Responsibilities include working on server-side architecture, client-side UI, 
data conversion (automated as possible), and/or other software tasks as our 
team identifies them.  You'll need an understanding of any or all of:

- Writing PHP code in a LAMP environment 
- Relational databases, MySQL, and object-relational mappings
- css and html
- UI design principles
- Programatically converting between plain text, LaTeX, RTF, or other formats

What's in it for you:
- Use your expertise and skill on a project that will make a difference to your 
professors, freeing their time for non-administrative work
- Expand your knowledge and experience in a large software-development
- Work on campus, stay connected, take a course, and meet all those
people on the opposite stream you haven't seen since 1A.

What you need:
- Self-motivation, problem-solving, reliability, ability to multitask, and a 
desire to make a contribution
- Demonstrated experience in a multi-developer team environment
- Good communication skills
- Diplomacy and tact important since dealing with faculty, students, and 
- Experience with system administration of *nix and Apache is a plus

Some of the important keywords:

  • "demonstrated" experience
  • architectural understanding (eg., LAMP)
  • the "what's in it for you" section

UW co-op Job Submission Process

A new job will require submitting the form at CECS's site. If we are re-listing a job from prior terms, we can ask them to re-run it without having to re-type all the information (and/or with minor tweaks). The process in that situation is: we have gotten an email from Ann MacMillan, our Account Coordinator (annm@uwaterloo.ca) ~9 days before the job description is due. We reply with "please re-run the job listing ID nnnnnnnn with the following changes".

In either case, Ann MacMillan emails a confirmation and lists the job for the first-cycle opening date, or other date as requested. Note: it is a good idea to request running the job for the first AND SECOND job rounds, because the first round may have a smaller number of submissions, with so many competing jobs. According to a CECS student employee: "there are more jobs posted during the first round so perhaps students are more frugal with their applications as they have a limited number. The second job during match is generally reserved for reposting and on campus jobs."

A day or two after submitting the job listing, Linda Blain will email with a proposed interview date and asking about location of interviews. They have been flexible about changing the date. Daniel and Lawrence have been doing Group Interviews in DC 3323 (boardroom-style, has 10 seats in the front row) and Individual Interviews in DC 2564 (both booked via Access Calendar).

They can also set up the interview schedule at this time (see below for manual process); Daniel has sent them the following:

Location of interviews: 
Group session 9:15am-9:45am in DC 3323, and individual sessions from 10:00am onward in DC 2564. 

If you like, I could set up the schedule now:
individual sessions in 30-minute increments from 10:00am-3:00pm, with a break from noon-1pm.
(so that's 4 interviews, break, 4 interviews.) 

Linda will email back the day after the students have made their job selections, instructing us to review them in jobmine and select the candidates we want to interview (within the next few days).

UW co-op Selection Process

Jobmine will list all applicants for the position, and allow you to select which applicants you wish to interview. After you've chosen, the applicants have the opportunity to remove themselves; if you are in continuous round, they may have already found a match before you can interview them.

The drop-down selector for "selected" and "not selected" also includes choices for "sort high" "sort medium" and "sort low". You can use this to roughly organize your applicants before choosing the top n. A good heuristic: if you want to interview 10 applicants, take all of the "sort high" and as many of "sort medium" as will fit. After you've chosen the 10, you can choose three alternates (ranked "1st alternate" through "3rd alternate") in case any of the 10 are no longer available.

A candidate-pool with widely-ranging amounts of experience and fitness for your job means you need to decide whether a weak candidate would be worse than not hiring. drallen/dkeenan were asked by CECS if we wanted to add additional candidates after our pool went from 7 to 5; the remaining unranked candidates seemed poor matches for us and so we said no at that stage.

A recommendation by trg was to save the "complete package" for all those you selected, because he found that some information disappeared post-selection. Do this via the check-box for printing and save/print the output page.

In the continuous round, CECS will email or call when there are changes to the roster (ie, people remove themselves). CECS is happy to re-add people to our roster as necessary.

UW co-op Interview Process

Interview Planning

When you're done choosing applicants, choose "step 2: create schedule." As instructed by CECS staff: "interview reservation" and "Group reservation" should each say "1". At some point you can choose the length of the interview sessions as well as a start-time. Choose Create Schedule and confirm the schedule.

You will probably want to add break-periods between students. trg's advice was: 20-minute interviews and blocks of 3 students followed by a break. This way, if interviews go long, they will eat into the break instead of shifting the entire schedule. (drallen and dkeenan's advice: perhaps 30-minute interviews, but plan to give the students 20 minutes, and use the 10-minute extra for slippage and taking notes.)

If you wish, you can interview students in our space; for simplicity and because we didn't know how many people we were interviewing, we chose to interview in CECS-provided rooms. The room we were provided had chairs for 12 or so people, and we could've had a projector/laptop provided if we wanted.

Your planning for the interviews should include the content of the group session and the interview questions. CECS recommended preparing to discuss rate-of-pay.

Example Group Session outline:

- please hold questions until your personal interview.
- introductions 
- summary of project [how students can contribute; what they will work on; timeline; who they will work with]

- CSCF Work Environment
  - private office in Davis Centre. Perks include: near a kitchen, 50c pop fridge, Friday afternoon chocolate.
  - casual dress
  - weekly meetings with project team ~1.5 hours/wk
  - meetings with supervisor- 1h/wk
    - door is open
  - development tools/equipment provided
  - mostly working by yourself, with coordination with CS staff member and with Engineering team
     (who will also have a co-op working next term)
  - CSCFs track our work in Request Tracker.
  - document our work in RT and on a Twiki - programmer documentation 
  - somewhat flexible hours; such as if you want to take a course during the term.
    - university works on 7h/day, 35h per week, and you're expected to work that long (not including lunch).
    - I work roughly 9:30-5:30.
    - our group works core hours: 10am - 3pm so we're generally available to each other.
    - but if you need to take off some time for an appointment, or take a class: 
      - you can flextime within the week or from week to week, within reason. 
      - let your supervisor know, and work that time in advance (or make it up later).  

Sample UWCoopInterview questions.

UW co-op Ranking and Acceptance

(see CECS documentation for more detail.)

You are prompted by CECS to rank your choices by 4pm. The applicants do their ranking of their jobs that evening, and jobmine displays any successful match the next day by 11am.

Note that applicants may have as many as 5 interviews in the same day; to reiterate it is useful to get an indication from the applicants during their private interview whether they would consider this one of their top matches- if they don't sound committal, you probably don't want to rank them your top choice.

Ranking the choices includes finding a single top-ranked choice. If your choice is the same as the applicant's choice, you automatically have a match.

You may have any number of 2nd-choice or 3rd-choice matches. trg suggests listing every acceptable choice as a '2' rather than downgrading any of them to 3rd choice (which is less likely to match). drallen/dkeenan found we had a clear 1, 2, 3 ranking for three choices.

CECS will call within a few days of the match to tell you.

Your co-op may call you; otherwise, you should contact them, either via phone-call, written acceptance letter, or email.

The content of the acceptance-contact should make sure you are clear and in agreement on all the elements in http://www.cecs.uwaterloo.ca/emp_manual/choosing/4_7.php including:

  • Employment start and end dates
  • Reporting date, time and location
  • Salary
  • pay period (monthly)
  • Work location

High-school co-op students

Both the local public and catholic school boards have co-op programs for students in Grade 11 and 12. Co-op students at this level are not paid by UW. They work for course credits, roughly 3 hours per day, during the first and second terms of high school. The terms run from September - January and February - June.

Waterloo Region District School Board

Waterloo Catholic District School Board

The High-School interview process

  • The Co-op department will drop off a set of resumes. They will need to be reviewed and a determined which of the applicants will be granted an interview and when. The interview sheet must then be faxed back to the board offices.
  • At time of writing, there is no confirmation that those times are acceptable, you must assume that they are unless you hear otherwise.
  • Interview Questions - see HighSchoolCoopInterview

High-School Acceptance process

Preparing for their arrival

Review NewCscfEmployeeGuide#Preparing_for_Their_Arrival. Redundant information should go there rather than this page (so we don't have two places to update).


This checklist should be copied into an RT for preparing for the arrival of the co-op student:
- create WatIam identity
- Send email/2FA instructions: https://uwaterloo.ca/microsoft-365/about/accessing-your-microsoft-365-account
- request a fob from Greg
- assign a workstation, ensure it is setup and ready
- send a request to IST to add the user to the CSCF RT queues [[https://uwaterloo.atlassian.net/servicedesk/customer/portal/2/group/1616/create/1400]]
- request access to Learn for training courses (create an RT in IST-LEARNsupp queue or send email to learnhelp@uwaterloo.ca)
- add as a user in Inventory (Admin -> Create User)
- add as a user in Twiki (Twiki.TwikiRegistration)
- add to CS accounts - CSCF Technicians
- create a Training RT with the following:

Workspace allocation

  • If available, we have used DC 2556, 2557, and 2558 for part-time, temporary or co-op students.
    • as of August 2012, co-op students will have a desk in DC 2608/2610
  • If necessary, you can contact Greg McTavish to find out what room is available for the student to work at
  • Make sure there are basic supplies (paper, pens, pencils, etc.)
  • request a workstation

WatIam entry

  • If they do not already have a WatIam ID (such as high-school students), accounts@cs can get that setup.
    • If a high-school co-op will need access to the VPN, it must be requested by checking the checkbox on the WatIAM create/edit user form.
    • Note: we have two standard userids for High School co-ops: cscftech and cscfinv. Use "cscftech" for a student who will be primarily responsible for equipment, surplussing, etc. Use "cscfinv" for a student who is going to focus primarily on inventory updating, room sweeps, etc.

RT, ST and eDocs access

Twiki access

Inventory Access

  • If they will be doing work on the inventory database, they need to be added to the inventory database (InventoryUserDocs#Sysadmin_Documentation).
    1. Go into Inventory
    2. Click on "Admin"
    3. Click on "Create New User"
    4. Fill in their Userid, Expiry date and set permissions to "WM"

Exchange Calendar access

  • If you would like them to have BookIt access, send an email to request@ist Specify the fact that it is a co-op student and provide and end-date so that they can recover the license.

Staff List

Accounts/AD additions

  • to provide various group and Active Directory accounts, including www_cf and www_cscf, request the account via normal channels or update the accounts file on cs-xh-admin.cs.private.uwaterloo.ca:
    • /software/accounts-master/data/sponsors/CSCF/technicians
    • (Note: the file is RCS'ed)
  • The co-op can set their CS-GENERAL password via: https://cs.uwaterloo.ca/cscf/internal/password/

Request a workstation for the student

  • Create an RT item and assign it to Phil to request a workstation. It should have the standard dual-boot CS grad image

Additional requirements for Help Desk

First day(s)

There area number of tasks that should be completed so that the new co-op student can operate effectively within CSCF. They should be completed as soon as possible.

Review NewCscfEmployeeGuide. Redundant information should go there rather than this page (so we don't have two places to update).


  • If the student is in the regular co-op space, they won't need a key- we can re-use the fob from the prior term's co-op. If we need an additional fob or a key, email Greg McTavish with the new co-op's name and userid; then drop by his office (DC 2114) to pick up the fob.

Paperwork with CS

Hiring paperwork is now handled via workday. HR has published step-by-step guides - on that page, search for "Hiring", expand the section, and choose the right link (eg., "casual employee", "co-op").

To complete the process, you need hiring privileges in workday.

  • The cost-center to use should be "10000-10092 100 2951 100 Computer Science CSCF General - Administration"
  • Job title can be "Web Developer" or "Information Technology Assistant" or other.

Note that HR paperwork has a deadline in the third week of the month for the student to be paid for their first month - this has previously caused a critical issue for a student who started a week late and didn't fill in his paperwork within the following week.

When the application is submitted, it will be processed by Cathy Logan-Dickie (Financial Officer); if she doesn't recognize the name or if there are issues, she will check with Angie Hewett (for HR questions) or email us for more details.

Workstation setup

  • if there is a machine available, make sure it is setup with their login
  • configure their mail so that they can read and send mail (suggestion: use Thunderbird with Imap)
  • make sure they can login to the cscf and cs core environments
  • set the .forward in the cscf environment to forward their mail to cs.uwaterloo.ca

watiam setup

Microsoft Teams setup

  • the co-op should log into Microsoft Teams by visiting https://teams.microsoft.com/ - if they are logged into their .edu.uwaterloo.ca account, it will fail, but if they log out and log into their userid@uwaterloo.ca account, it should let them in. You can then add them to the "CSCF" team (which will need to be confirmed by the team owner).

They can download a desktop client at https://teams.microsoft.com/downloads.

Casual Pay

If the employee is on Casual Pay (not co-op or regular contract), they will need to record hours themselves into Workday, which are then sent to the manager to approve. See https://uwaterloo.ca/human-resources/support-managers/payroll/paying-casual-employees . There is a two week cycle; hours need to be recorded by the employee Monday at noon, for the previous two weeks (through Friday). The manager's approvals are due Wednesday (at unspecified time of day).



  1. Command-line basics (directory structures, ls, cd, pwd, df, mv, md)
  2. Using Linux
  3. vi basics (vilearn interactive tutorial)
  4. SQL basics
  5. Learning LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP)

Training RT

Here's a text checklist that can be cut'n'pasted into the Summary field for a Training RT:

1) Review New Employee Guides:
2) Employee Safety Orientation
3) Workplace Violence Awareness
4) RT (supervisor)
5) Exchange Email (Supervisor)
6) Web access (using Linux)
7) Imaging a system (Mike)
8) Inventory (Supervisor)
9) Unix Basics (directory structures, ls, cd, pwd, df, mv, md)
10) Using Linux (Supervisor / Mike G / Moving to Linux book)
11) vi basics (vilearn)
12) Exchange Calendar (supervisor)
13) Networking/VLANs/ONA (supervisor)
14) Core environment, Samba
15) Printing (setup current machine to print to Help Desk printer)
16) (Optional) Learning LAMP

Access Privileges

  • Co-op students should get full RT access
  • generally, co-op students do not get the following:
    • root access on cs-xh-admin.cs.private.uwaterloo.ca or the core and student environments
    • SecurID fobs
    • cable lock combinations
    • the standard CSCF workstation login

  • AT THE END OF TERM be sure to remove co-op access from systems. For example, if they have pushed code to gitlab using any production role accounts, have them log in as themselves, and remove any ssh keys which correspond to the application accounts, because the key fingerprint cannot be re-used for another user. (https://git.uwaterloo.ca/profile/keys )

Reference materials

Reporting procedures

Reporting: UW co-op students

After the term has started, there may be an email from CECA suggesting we change the contact-info for the new co-op students. If they were hired by one person and report to another person, you should do this.

If we should continue to contact you about the student's progress, there's no need to take any action right now. However, if there's someone else better suited to comment on the work term and receive periodic check-ins, please:

* Log in to WaterlooWorks
* Click the 'My Hires' tab
* Click 'View' next to the student you want to add a new contact for
* Click the blue 'Edit' button in the 'Work-term details' section
* Replace your information in the top section with information for the new contact
* Click 'Save'

The UW Co-op Employer Manual has lots of information about feedback and evaluation. There is a mandatory evaluation to be filled out at the end of the term. Recommendations for feedback and evaluations follow.


  • Hold a weekly meeting with the student, patterned on the CSCF model. Notes taken (and emailed to student directly after the meeting) should include work accomplished with ST's, (measurable) goals for the upcoming week, supervisor's comments to student, and items (positive and negative) which have bearing on the mid-term and final evaluation.
  • In the first week, be sure student knows about evaluations; the mid-term evaluation and discussion are an opportunity for the student to learn what corrections might be necessary for the supervisor to give an "Excellent" or "Very Good" rating. If they are a 1B co-op, the first or second week meeting might include a quick review of the CECS evaluation form.


  • Can replace or be in addition to regular weekly meeting.
  • Consider asking the co-op to self-evaluate using the same form (skipping the last page- and instead of "Supervisor's comments", "Student's Comments on work done" ).
  • Beforehand, fill in the CECS evaluation form, (possibly skipping the last page)
    • Job activities and responsibilities can probably be cribbed from the job-listing.
    • If in doubt on the checkboxes, give the student room for improvement and/or check more than one.
    • Areas of Strength and Areas for Development - review weekly notes for positive/negative items that repeated.
  • Review with student and answer any questions; also they can come back with questions later.

End of Term

Work Report

From CECS docs: If your student will be writing a work report and is able to choose a topic that will be of value to your department/organization, help in the topic selection and consider assignments which could be used as a basis for the topic of the report. If the work report will benefit the department, you may wish to give your student some time on the job to work on it. Be prepared to read the first and final drafts and to offer suggestions.

Reporting: High-school co-op students


  • At the end of each week, the student should be filling out a form to itemize the work they've done each day and how many hours they spent
  • the will need to get their supervisor's signature, who can also add any relevant comments


  • the student will bring a summary report for the supervisor to fill out

Insurance, Health & Safety


Generally, High-school co-op students will have had WHMIS training. If not, they should probably attend a session at UW. More information can be found here: https://uwaterloo.ca/safety-office/occupational-health-safety/whmis

Related Links

ST can be a source of work suitable for co-ops.

-- LawrenceFolland - 07 Mar 2005

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