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REF NO.: 232

SUBJECT: Students test-drive careers with Memorial’s co-operative education programs.
DATE: March 16, 2006

It’s like taking a career out for a test-drive or finding a profession that fits. With alternating terms of academic and on-the-job experience, students in Memorial’s co-operative education programs have an opportunity to learn about different industries and make better career choices without making long-term commitments.

From March 20 - 24 Memorial University will celebrate National Co-operative Education Week and the impact students and employers have had in making Memorial a national leader with the largest co-op offering east of Ontario.

“I worked with a local accounting firm for two work terms,” said Trent Skanes, a bachelor of commerce (co-op) student from Gander. “I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of the chartered accounting (CA) profession, witness the lifestyle of employees working at the firm, and experience the sweeping regulatory changes facing the industry. The most valuable thing for me was being able to step back, and in light of my experiences, make an informed decision about whether I will continue to pursue a CA designation. For me, testing the waters is an invaluable asset of the co-operative education experience.”

“I worked for six different companies and gained experience in all levels of the oil and gas industry including the regulatory, consulting, fabrication, operators and design offices,” said Blair Kirkland, a naval engineering student from St. John’s. “I had work terms in Victoria, BC; Aberdeen, Scotland; and Houston, Texas. The latter resulted in a permanent position upon graduation with a company that I already know and trust. Given the choice I wouldn't change any aspect of my degree even if I could have finished years earlier in another program.”

“Co-operative education exposes students to new career options, provides an opportunity to network with professionals in a particular field, and helps finance a student’s education,” said Dr. Mahmoud Haddara, interim director of co-operative education at Memorial. “Co-op employers also benefit from the infusion of new ideas and energy into the workplace and the opportunity to recruit talented employees.”

Co-operative education is a practical learning process where students apply their classroom learning to real-world experiences and vice-versa. During this academic year, more than 500 employers from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in Newfoundland and Labrador have provided Memorial’s co-op students with over 1,600 challenging work experiences.

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