Economics Experiential Learning: Co-op and PREX programs
To gain a competitive edge!
After graduation, another challenge begins: Finding a job when thousands of other graduates are trying to do the same thing. This can be a daunting task but co-op graduates have it easier. They tend to find jobs faster than other students and at higher salaries. Why? With the help of the Concordia Institute for Co-operative Education, they have already sharpened their job search skills, their résumé writing skills, their cover letter writing skills, and their interview skills while studying; And they have one year of relevant work experience to put on their résumé! Compared to other students, Co-op students are able to stand out.
But this is not the only advantage of becoming a Co-op student. Work terms allow Co-op students to earn money while studying, to build a professional network, and to gain work-related skills that cannot be acquired in the classroom. In addition, they enable students to orient their career in the right direction by letting them sample different types of jobs or employers before they graduate.
Joining the Co-op program is a career building opportunity.
We could try to convince you that an Economics degree is a better option by saying: That it will train you to analyze problems and find an original solution instead of following recipes; That you will gain various technical skills (data collection, econometric and statistical analysis, etc...) very valuable in the workplace; That these skills will also make it easier to go on to graduate studies if you ever decide to do so in the future...
But a picture is often worth a thousand words:
By studying Economics, you will learn that wages should grow when labour demand grows relatively faster than labour supply: The recent surge in the number of Business School graduates in Québec may explain why Economics graduates are now getting a better pay. In the job market nowadays, you are not quite unique if you have a Business degree. Economists, on the other hand, are in short supply.
Co-op students must complete three (3) four-months long paid work terms. Paid work experience means that employers will expect a high level of productivity and professionalism from any student.
Note, however, that the Co-op program is not a placement agency. Work term placements are obtained on a competitive basis. Students can apply for jobs posted with the Institute for Co-operative Education but are also encouraged to arrange their own.
In the past, Economics Co-op students have worked for employers such as Agriculture and Agri-Food, Bank of Canada, Bank Laurentian, Bank of Montreal, Black and Decker, Bombardier, Canadian Pacific Railways, Canadian Space Agency, Environment Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Hydro Quebec, Industry Canada, Pfizer Pharmaceutical, Pratt and Whitney, Revenue Canada, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotia McLeod, Statistics Canada, TD Bank, Transport Canada, Pratt & Whitney, and Mercer.
No problem! There is also the Economics PRofessional EXperience program (PREX). PREX allows students to complete only one work term. It is suitable for students who are already well advanced into their studies and cannot complete three work terms in the time left. With PREX, you can enjoy the same benefits as the Co-op program while having a bit more flexibilty.
Students are admitted into PREX in early fall and normally complete their work term during the following summer term. Fees are also different than those for Co-op.
Co-op students must either be enrolled in Specialization or Honours in Economics. Both Specialization and Honours are more intensive than a Major in Economics, requiring 20 Economics courses (60 credits), instead of 14 courses (42 credits) for a Major.
- Honours: Normal route to graduate work in Economics. Core courses are Econ 325, 326, 401, 403, 421, and 422.
- Specialization: Less demanding. Of the core courses, Specialization students must only take Econ 325 and Econ 421 (or Econ 423).
In addition, Co-op students must participate in four webinars designed to enhance their job search skills, their cover letter and résumé writing skills, and their interview skills. A work term preparation course must also be attended prior to the first work term.
It is also important to note that the Co-op program is an intensive program designed to be completed within three (3) years, similarly to the regular Economics program. Students are thus required to be enrolled full-time in any semester other than their work term semesters. Normally, for new students, the first work term takes place during the fourth semester of enrolment, then is followed by a study term, a second work term, a study term, a third work term, and finally a study term. It is possible to have two work terms consecutively but any study/work term sequence must end with a study term.
To learn more about the Co-op experience, visit the Institute for Co-operative Education.
To understand more about the program's requirements visit the Undergraduate Calendar:
Yes. Please consult Co-op fees section on the Institute for Co-operative Education’s webpage. These fees cover the program’s administration cost and the career development services received from Co-op.
We are looking for motivated and dedicated students with solid academic records: Students who demonstrate good technical abilities (math, statistics) and a keen interest for economics will be preferred. The ability to communicate in both French and English is also an advantage.
New students can apply to the Economics Co-op program at the time of applying to Concordia by checking the Co-op box.
Current Concordia students can apply by clicking on the apply button at the top of this page.
It becomes difficult to design a feasible Co-op work/study sequence If you have already completed more than 30 out of 90 credits or 60 out of 120 credits. Consult with the Economics Academic Director in this case; PREX might be more suitable for you.
Students are eligible for PREX if they have completed no less that 30 and no more than 60 out of 90 credits or no less than 60 and no more than 90 out of 120 credits.
There are two major differences:
- The number of work terms differs. MA students must complete two work terms while BA students must complete three;
- MA student do not have to register for a minimum number of credits in a study term. However, leaves of absence are not permitted.
Other than that, most of the information contained on the Economics Experiential Learning webpage about the BA program applies to the MA program as well.
As soon as possible! As one Chinese saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago”.
You need to complete two terms of study before going on your first work term. If you wait too long, it will be too late.
You cannot be admitted to Co-op if you are near completion; Co-op is not a placement agency. If you need guidance for your job search, CAPS may be able to help you.
This requirement is to allow enough time to complete the Career Fundamentals webinar series, the Work Term Preparation seminar, your résumé, cover letters, and to participate in the job search process within Co-op. Please see the “Information for newly admitted students” tab for more details.
Why wait? Yes! You can apply right away, even before your first semester of course work begins.
However, new MA students may be withdrawn from the Co-op program if their academic performance is not satisfactory after one term of studies. In this case, Co-op fees paid for that one term cover the cost of the Career Fundamentals webinars.
Yes, international students can join Co-op. However, you should bear in mind that your internship search might be a bit harder than that of other students because international students might not be eligible for some of the jobs offered by Canadian government agencies (a major employer of MA Co-op students). In addition, it might be more difficult to find a job around Montreal if you do not speak French fluently.
No, PREX is only for undergraduate students. Note, however, that MA students usually complete two work terms in a row for the same employer. In this case, it is equivalent to completing PREX with an 8-month work term rather than a 4-month work term.
No. A Co-op student is subject to the same academic requirements as a regular MA student: 24 credits of course work and a 21-credit MA paper. The Co-op requirements are on top of those.
It is important to note that the Co-op Academic Director monitors all Co-op students’ performance at the end of each semester. Students whose academic performance is not satisfactory may be withdrawn from Co-op before the next semester’s DNE date (to avoid any further Co-op fees being charged).
We want to ensure that students who go on work terms have a solid understanding of Economics; Employers expect our students to be equipped with tools to conduct actual research/analysis.
Yes. Co-op students must also invest themselves into their internship search. Internships will not fall into your lap! Students who do not prepare adequately for the work term search or do not actively seek work term placements will be withdrawn from Co-op. Remember, Co-op is not a placement agency: The Co-op program aims at giving you all the tools required for a successful internship search, but it is up to you to use them.
Why not?! Work experience gives a practical perspective of economic issues and a chance to get your hands dirty with data. You might even get ideas for your thesis from this experience! Not all MA Co-op students look for a job after they graduate; some continue on to Ph.D. studies but none regret their Co-op experience (from a recent survey of Co-op graduates).
No, but a Co-op student cannot take a leave of absence unless the Co-op Academic Director approves it.
There is no typical path in the MA program; it all depends on how fast students complete the required 24-credit course work requirement and when they enter Co-op because few MA classes are offered during the summer term.
The best-case scenario is for students to enter Co-op in the Fall semester when their MA studies begin: These students would complete the Career Fundamentals webinar series in late fall, attend the Work Term Preparation seminar in early winter, and begin their job search for the next semester. Students who get an 8-month internship would work during the Summer and Fall semesters, and return for the Winter semester to complete their studies. Alternatively, students could leave for a 4-month work term during the summer, return for the Fall semester, search for an internship while studying, and complete their last work term during the Winter semester.
If you would like to know what a work/study sequence might look like in your case, please consult the Co-op Academic Director.
More than 45% of Co-op graduates said that their work term experience helped them when they wrote their MA paper; about 78% of those said that this experience was at least as useful as their course work. Doing some applied work cannot hurt!
Are you kidding?! All MA Co-op graduates who answered a recent survey (Yes, 100%) acknowledged that
- Going through Co-op had a positive impact on their career.
- Would choose to join Co-op again.
- Would recommend joining Co-op to a friend.
Comments from a survey of MA Co-op graduates:
“I made valuable connections with researchers that I still have today. I gained access to a dataset, which I used to complete my MA thesis and I gained worked experience. I also went on to pursue a PhD and the subject of my PhD thesis was related to an idea I got while doing my second MA Co-op work term. Overall, it was a very positive experience!”
“It has definitely helped guide me towards the type of job that I would rather do, as well as given me opportunities that would otherwise be much harder to come by.”
“I think there is much value on all sides for the co-op program to be successful, as for most people, the end-goal of education is to enter the labour force and the co-op program is a bridge to that goal.”
“I have been able to expand my network. My previous supervisor, despite having left [a government agency], helped me find a job elsewhere. Because he strongly vouched for me, I had the opportunity to work at [another government agency].”
“It was a great opportunity to see if working in public service was a good fit for me.”
“It gave me a great opportunity to show employers what I was capable of doing.”
“Eight months of work experience coming out of school does look pretty good.”
“I'm grateful for the opportunities that were offered by the co-op program and hope that students see the value in such programs.”
Need we say more?
Great! Read your admission letter carefully; it contains information on the steps required to accept this offer. Welcome aboard!
No action is required on your part: You will automatically be transferred to a Specialization, if you are currently enrolled in a Major, once you accept your admission offer. PREX students can remain with their Major.
At the time of admission, you will be assigned a standard work/study sequence that will indicate when your work terms should take place. You need to become actively involved in the program two semesters prior to the first scheduled work term.
No. It can be modified, but the academic director must approve any change because the sequence must follow certain rules. For example, a sequence cannot end with a work term; it has to end with a study term. If you are not sure of what your sequence is or will be, just ask the Director.
The Academic Director serves as your academic advisor throughout your Co-op journey: He/She can help you plan your studies at Concordia, help you avoid common mistakes, and assist you in resolving any registration issue quickly. Meeting with the Academic Director right after admission into Co-op is desirable in most cases, especially if you were admitted after you have already completed some courses at Concordia.
It depends on who you are!
If you were admitted to Co-op at the time you were admitted to Concordia, straight from CEGEP, it is
for fall admissions and
for winter admissions.
If you were admitted to Co-op after your second semester at Concordia, your sequence might look like
Note that, in some cases, you might have to complete two work terms in a row to follow Co-op’s rules. These work terms could be with the same employer or with different employers.
The standard sequence for PREX students is
PREX students normally enter the program in the second year of studies but other sequences are possible. However, sequences for PREX only begin in the fall because work terms usually take place during summer.
They indicate the stages that must be completed before you get the “green light” to search for a job placement:
You must complete the career fundamentals webinars two semesters prior to your first scheduled work term. You will be notified by the Co-op Institute when it is time to do so. There are four webinars to complete:
- Résumé Skills
- Cover Letter Skills
- Job Search Skills
- Interview Skills
You will then have to attend the work term preparation seminar given by your Co-op Coordinator at the beginning of the semester prior to your first work term. In this seminar, you will learn all the details about the job search/matching process within Co-op. The Co-op Coordinator is the resources person for any matter related to your job search and your work term. The Coordinator will also review your résumé with you.
Next (Yes, finally!) comes the job search. Once you have completed the first two stages, you can begin submitting your résumé to employers and prepare for interviews.
There are two successive job search phases within Co-op:
- The rank-match phase: During this first phase, employers rank students that they have interviewed and students rank potential employers. Students and employers are then paired together based on their respective ranking.
- The continuous placement phase: During this second phase, job offers are posted as they arrive and employers can hire students at any time.
The Co-op or PREX programs are not placement agencies. We help you develop skills to find your own job once you graduate. Being part of Co-op or PREX does not guarantee that you will find a job, although most students do.
The first work term is often the hardest to get. After, it gets easier as you gain experience. To be succesful in landing an internship, you must be truly implicated in the process. Success takes more than just luck. This means that you have to apply to many jobs, to attend all your interviews, and to check your emails daily. Being ready to travel to another city is a way to expand opportunities; It may be required if you do not speak French because jobs around Montreal often necessitate that you do.
The Co-op Institute has a designated web platform called COMPASS that allows students to deal with all matters related to Co-op or PREX. The Co-op staff also communicate with students through this platform. You will learn more about COMPASS during the work term preparation seminar.
Yes! Looking for internships outside the COMPASS platform is possible and certainly encouraged. However, the internship needs to be approved by the Co-op Institute. You will also need to complete the career fundamentals webinars and the work term preparation seminar beforehand. Networking is a good way to find a job, but we want you to learn how to hunt for jobs on your own too.
You are expected to learn by doing! You are also expected to reflect on what you have learned throughout your work term.
At the beginning of your work term, you and your employers will set goals to achieve during the internship. There will be a mid-point evaluation and a final evaluation by your employer.
At the end of your internship, you will have to submit a work term report to the Academic Director who will grade it. This report will describe your tasks during the internship and how these tasks relate to your academic training. You will be asked to reflect on the goals that you set for yourself initially and whether or not you were able to achieve them. Writing a work term report is mandatory after each work term.
You need to perform well academically. Your academic performance will be monitored by the Academic Director at the end of each semester: A Co-op student must maintain a GPA above 2.70.
You will have to pay a visit to the Academic Director to discuss strategies to remedy the situation. If your academic performance does not improve thereafter, you might have to withdraw from Co-op.
You are allowed to take one evening class during your work term. But consult with the Academic Director first! It might not be a good idea if you are struggling academically.
It is possible to transfer from Co-op to PREX. Work terms that you may already have completed will be considered as completed within the PREX program.
The Professional Experience Program (PREX) is similar to the BA Co-op Program except that:
- PREX only has one work term rather than three and this work term normally takes place during summer;
- To be eligible for PREX, students must have no less than 60 credits and no more than 30 credits left to earn in order to complete their degree;
- Admissions are limited to the Fall semester. Applications to PREX must thus be received, at the latest, during the preceding Summer semester.
For more information, please consult the “BA Co-op” section and the “Information for newly admitted students” section of the Economics Experiential Learning webpage.