CEC: What the New Co-op Building is All About

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

On December 16, 2002, the new Co-op Building (CEC) officially opened for business. Throughout the months of construction, the site has morphed from an empty field to a messy construction zone, and finally to a completed modern building. In investigating the new features and procedures of CECS, I spoke with Olaf Naese, Communications and Public Relations Administrator. This is what I learned:

What’s new?

  • 102 dedicated interview rooms – NH had 53 interview rooms, but some of those were actually employee offices which were taken over when needed for interviews, forcing the employees out of their own offices for days. The CEC interview rooms are larger and more spacious. Most of them have windows or frosted glass to allow natural light inside. Rooms have more sound insulation and privacy to reduce distractions during interviews.
  • Quicker Co-op Process – Extra interview rooms mean that interviews will now take place in a much shorter span (2 weeks), instead of dragging on for almost a month. Speeding up the process allows UW to compete with other schools, which are developing their own co-op programs. UW has nearly 11000 Co-op students (63-64% of student population). Since those schools are invariably smaller, they can offer matches between students and employers much quicker than we can.
  • Phone interview rooms offer more privacy than in NH
  • 7 new meeting rooms, including a 120-person room divisible into 2 sections when necessary – NH had only 4 meeting rooms, and 1 of those was almost permanently converted to offices.
  • Lockers are available for rental for a quarter per usage, promoting safety and reducing risk of theft.
  • Separate lounges for employers, staff, and students – Situations occurred where employers were overhearing what students and staff were saying while on break, and vice versa.
  • CEC location – Construction site was selected based on a variety of factors including: close proximity to centre of campus, parking lots, easily visible and identifiable from around campus.
  • CEC building design – 4 floors greatly increases available space. Having only 1 long hallway avoids networks of hallways which waste space. Modern design is appealing for staff, students, and employers.
  • Booking appointments with co-op advisors can be done from the Central Information Desk on 1st floor.

What’s old:

  • For this term, applications will still be done the old-fashioned way, with postings in the hallways, and bins for resume packages located in CEC. Winter 2003 should be the last term using this process; subsequent terms will make use of the new “CECS online” system.
  • Interviews, co-op advisor meetings, workshops will all still be held at CEC.
  • Basic format of Co-op process remains unchanged (postings, applications, interviews, matching, ranking, continuous phase). Only the delivery mechanism will shift with the more flexible online system.
  • The Co-op Student Council is a group of students representing every faculty, and their job remains to communicate major issues between students and CECS. They have an office on the 1st floor of CEC.

What’s coming soon:

  • CECS online – Moving the entire Co-op process online is what CECS online is all about, and it will likely be implemented this May. Students will be able to view job postings, apply using electronic resumes, choose their own interview times within employer-decreed time slots, and also rank jobs online. The only reason to come to CEC would be to have the actual interview. Employers will be able to check applications almost instantly, select students for interviews, and rank them online. This would eliminate the need for paper resume packages, bins, postings, and the costs of shipping those papers around.
  • Silent paging system – Instead of paging each person out loud, monitors throughout the building and in waiting areas would display interviews on screens. Students see their name appear on the screen and proceed to the paging desk to check in.

What MIGHT be coming (lick your lips with eagerness, but don’t bank on them necessarily happening; these changes are still under review and could be modified):

  • More flexible ranking – Instead of forcing employers and students to rank sequentially starting from 1, they would be given more flexibility. Students could rank 1,5, or 1,2,3,9, etc. Employers would also be given more freedom, though not as much.
  • Removing exceptional students (those ones who get 10 interviews every term, you know who they are) from the system early, thus freeing up interview opportunities for the other students. That student could accept a job early, and those other 9 interview spots would open up. This may apply to any student who has already decided to accept a job, they may choose to exit the system early, freeing up space for other students.
  • Cancelled jobs will not mean you lose an application (out of your 24 quota). As soon as the cancellation is recorded, students who applied will be allowed to apply to an additional job to replace the cancelled one. Any screened job for which you did not get an interview would also result in an additional application.

What will become of Needles Hall?

  • NH will be reclaimed by the Registrar’s Office and other departments.
  • Departments which were running out of space in NH will now be able to shuffle their offices and make use of the additional space and improve their operation.
  • No more Co-op activities will be conducted out of NH, everything will be done from CEC.

More information can also be found online, at the CECS website. The Co-op Student Manual actually contains lots of information about Co-op issues, including a breakdown of finances and the Co-op Fee, which always seems to be a subject of hot debate. Details about “Proposed Co-op Process Changes” can also be found under “News.”

In speaking with Naese, a primary concern of theirs is student awareness. To combat this, CECS encourages students to look through the CECS website and find information online if possible. They really want students to learn more about the new system, and they wish to emphasize that many answers to questions are available online. Online information will be updated periodically, especially now, at the beginning of the transition.

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