Biology students can prepare for an exciting opportunity in the coming year— MUN will be commencing a brand new Biology Co-op program.
The program will incorporate three full-time work terms of four months each into a student’s degree. Each of the three placements will be a paid position in a field related to the student’s area of study.
“The placement options are limitless,” said Yolanda Wiersma, biology professor and one of the coordinators of the program. Wiersma gave several examples of co-op opportunities, including genetic counseling, veterinary work, or a position with the Provincial Wildlife Department.
Wiersma says there will also be opportunities to link Biology with other areas of study—students might wish to work in an environmental education centre, or combine biology with museum studies through curating work.
Placements will not be restricted to the St. John’s area and students will be encouraged to think internationally when considering their co-op options.
Co-operative Education Coordinator Julie Downey says this program will place MUN on a more competitive level nationally, while providing students with many opportunities not available in a classroom setting alone.
“By the end a co-op program, students have a clear vision of where they’re going at the end of their degree, they have real connections and references, and possibly even employment opportunities,” said Downey. “It gives graduates a far more competitive starting point upon completion of their degree.”
Admittance to the program will be selective and competitive, as only five or six students will be admitted to the program in its first year.
“We’re only going to take the best students,” said Wiersma. “They’re representing Memorial when they go out into the workforce.”
Kristina Porter is a fourth year Biology student at MUN who thinks a Co-op program will be a fantastic addition to the department, both for the experience and financial aid it will provide.
“Other faculties get a life advantage because they get work experience before they graduate,” said Porter. “Also, students who have a co-op program available to them get to save money while on work terms, while Bio students normally have to work one, possibly two jobs, while in school semesters to pay for all expenses.”
Fourth-year Biology student Kate Sexton agrees. “As many biology students know, the course material can be very confusing because you are restricted to diagrams in a book. Taking that basic knowledge and applying it to real life experience would be fantastic.
“I know that many people, including myself, would have taken advantage of this program.”
Eligible students must be in their second year of study with a 70 per cent in all Biology courses and a 65 per cent in all required courses. Wiersma says that she hopes to grow the program as large as possible without diluting its quality, and may see it accommodate up to thirty students in the coming years.
For more information on the program please visit the Biology Co-op Program webpage.