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Q&As about Political Science Co-op

Why enrol in a co-op program?
Students increasingly value the competitive advantage of obtaining work experience prior to graduation, whether this is for life experience that will allow them to assess their career paths; for personal and professional growth; or to facilitate the transition to the job market upon graduation. Upon completing the program, students will have: practical experience working with an employer related to political science; awareness of the mechanics of job searches that will be of use upon graduation; exposure to real-world research projects and to independent academic research study; and considerable personal, professional and academic growth.

How much longer will a co-op program take than a regular degree program?
Our Co-op program features 12 months of paid work that must be completed during the degree program. It is also our policy that at least one work term occurs during the Fall or Winter semesters. All told a co-op degree will usually add a minimum of one extra semester to an Honours or Major degree. That is, whereas most students in a normal program qualify to receive their degrees at Spring convocation, a Co-op student is unlikely to be eligible until convocation that Fall or possibly the following Spring.

Why does the PSCE require at least one work semester in the Fall or Winter?
There are two strong reasons for this requirement. First, students who only work during the summer months are unlikely to experience the different expectations in a workplace during other times of the year when business operations are at their peak. For instance, the legislature sits in the Fall and the government budget is passed around March, placing different demands on public servants than when the legislature is closed during the summer and when many staff take holidays. Second, because placements for political science graduate students occur in the Spring semester, the sustainability of our undergraduate and graduate programs requires that placements be staggered across semesters in order to reduce competition for a limited number of jobs.

What does working during a Fall or Winter semester mean for my course selections?
Working full-time during the Fall or Winter semesters means that PSCE students have to be diligent in course planning because courses are not always offered every semester. In political science the availability of courses tends to be lowest in the Spring and so students are expected to take care in selecting their courses in consultation with academic advisors.

Why do I need to maintain a work log?
The main purpose of the work log is so that students can keep track of what they are doing, so that the employer is kept informed about the status of the work they are performing, so that they regularly check in with a supervisor, and so that the student has a record to look back at when they prepare the end-of-semester reflective essay / work term report. It is also useful for students to have a work log for their portfolio and is a way for the program administrators to have a record of students' work.

What does a briefing note look like? What about a cabinet paper?
Written assignments for the coop courses may include preparing a briefing note and/or a cabinet paper. Click on the links below for examples.

I want to work with a not-for-profit organization, but they have no money to pay me. How can they get funding?
Some employers in Newfoundland and Labrador, such as not-for-profits and municipalities, can qualify for "Anvil" funding. For more information contact the Division of Co-operative Education.

I want to do a placement outside of Canada. Is this possible?
International placements, in particular with international organizations such as the United Nations or with non-governmental organizations abroad, usually do not offer remuneration to individuals doing short-term work placements with them. International placements are therefore unlikely due to the financial burden on both the student and employer; thus we do not initiate a search for such placements. However if a non-Canadian employer has guaranteed funding and the student has the means to finance travel, accommodations and other expenses then we will consider approving the placement. Furthermore, since work experiences with such organizations are extremely beneficial to students' future job prospects and the unique work experience that they offer, the Department may waive the requirement that a particular work placement is paid, on a case-by-case basis. Interested students may wish to communicate with a Political Science faculty member whose area of research expertise is the study of international politics.

Can Co-op students volunteer (as with POSC 4600) or do they have to be placed in paid positions?
It is the policy of the Division of Co-operative Education that all work terms must be paid placements. Funding opportunities exist for certain employers to help them hire co-op students. For more information contact the Division of Co-operative Education.

Is the Political Science Co-operative Education (PSCE) program accredited?
The Canadian Association for Co-operative Education manages the accreditation of university co-op programs which signifies a higher quality standard and may be a condition for students to qualify for some employment opportunities. The accreditation process takes about 5 years from the beginning of a program. Ours was initiated in Fall 2011 and because it is designed to eventually achieve accreditation employers such as the Government of Canada are likely to accept co-op students in the meantime. One feature of an accredited co-op program is that students are required to complete three work terms and must end their degree on an academic term.

What can I do to increase my chances of being admitted to the co-op program?
Admission to the program depends on meeting the eligibility requirements and the relative strength of your application compared to the other applicants in the same year. Currently, we expect to admit only 3-4 students per year, and the number of applicants varies from year to year. The best way to increase your chances of being admitted is to have high marks, work experience, and to have completed the recommended political science courses.