English co-op students and English grads get jobs!


It’s a sad fact that many people (including Arts students themselves sometimes) think that English graduates will not get good  jobs. Besides all of the other things that an English degree teaches you–how to be a better citizen, what it means to be human in all of our diversity and complexity, how literature and language shape our knowledge and our sense of what is real and true (including self knowledge), how literature and language express emotion and can foster empathy, why the human imagination is important . . . . Oh, and yes, how to read carefully and with a critical eye, how to assess what we are reading, how to synthesize enormous amounts of information, how to interpret language and other sign systems, how to communicate effectively in oral, written, and digital fora , how to use our own imaginations for the greater good–English is also excellent training for a variety of jobs.

Um, perhaps that long sentence is not the best way to make my point!

Here’s the thing: our English students are much in demand, even by (perhaps) unlikely employers. For example, RIM (Research in Motion, of BlackBerry fame, but you know that) can’t get enough of our students for co-op and other jobs. They even come to us recruiting, as happened yesterday in the English department. With pizza! Pictured here are co-op students in English (both undergraduate and graduate) meeting with hiring managers from RIM and learning about available positions.

RIM recruiting meeting

RIM hires dozens of English co-op students every year for positions in technical writing, editing, website design, and other areas.

Did you know that English co-op has one of the best placement rates for students on the whole uW  campus?  Also, uW is one of the few universities that offers a co-op option for English Masters students.

We rock! And we get jobs 🙂

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11 responses to “English co-op students and English grads get jobs!

  1. Actually, it is my understanding that English has the very best co-op placement percentage at uWaterloo.

    Oh and it can be hard to hire our students in another sense too since many of them command significant salaries for four months of work at major local employers.

  2. And these future technical writers could probably parlay their writing skills into creative spheres as well, thus becoming future George Eliot Clarkes, Melanie Camerons and Carrie Snyders, too.

  3. I read somewhere that the study of literature also helps spread peace through the fostering of understanding and empathy that you mention. And the development and expansion of the imagination. How would we exist, co-exist, solve problems, and mature with a stunted imagination?

  4. The reference to expanding empathy through the imagination reminds me of these lines from Elizabeth Bishop’s famous poem “In the Waiting Room” in which the seven-year old persona transposes her aunt’s feeling of pain in the dentist’s chair to herself and realizes she (little Elizabeth) actually cried in pain. This realization leads to her see herself for the first time that she is a part of humanity, a part of the whole (“No man is an island” in Donne’s words). She achieves self-consciousness for the first time (if I am reading the poem correctly). She suddenly knows that she “is an I…an Elizabeth…one of them.” Such is the transformative power of the imagination.

  5. Thank you! This is my favourite blog. For readers interested in poet Elizabeth Bishop, they may want to check out a great organization in Nova Scotia called the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia. The annual fee is only $10 to join and can be submitted online at the EBSNS website or by sending a cheque to: Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia, PO Box 138, Great Village, NS, B0M 1L0.

  6. Speaking of George Elliot Clarke, he was a co-op student in English at uWaterloo, and one of his jobs was running traffic lights in Toronot.

    Not all the jobs co-op students are high-tech or even technical writing. One recent case is a co-op student whose job is to write profiles of people.

  7. Thought I’d pop in and offer a UW-English co-op success story:

    In the spring of 2010 I began an 8-month (graduate) co-op term at OpenText (Canada’s largest software company). I’m still there, and now have 18+ months of “real life” communications experience—and the cash to prove it.

    • Thanks for the update Dylan, that’s a great outcome. Hope you came back to uWaterloo to finish your MA before launching your permanent career though! What stream is your MA in?

    • Great story. You did your MA in English, but what was your undergrad degree if you don’t mind me asking?

  8. Love those success stories! Thanks Dylan.

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