When Amanda Mosca reflects on her first internship, she remembers executing basic tasks like picking up coffee or filing paperwork. But she wanted more from her work experiences — she wanted to be given responsibility and room to grow.
Fast forward to Mosca’s time at the University of Calgary, where she worked as the engagement co-ordinator for UCalgary’s Office of Sustainability from 2017-2021. Part of the engagement co-ordinator’s role is to work with a team to manage an internship program. During her time in the role, Mosca aimed to ensure students enjoyed a more rewarding internship than she did.
Since 2012, the Office has been supporting to students meet career and academic goals through a dedicated co-op (or co-operative) education program. Interns are challenged and supported in taking on tasks that develop skills and utilize their creative thinking.
Each year, the Office hires three students for a year-long work term to support their team. Students are able to volunteer before committing to the term, which helps them get familiar with the Office and its programs and, in return, provides suitable candidates for the co-op positions.
The co-op work terms involve specific learning outcomes and activities in each role to build a student’s skills and knowledge. An evaluation happens at the end of the co-op to determine what worked and what didn’t for both student and employer.
During the co-op term, students manage tasks such as office communications, co-ordinating volunteer cohorts, overseeing social media channels and planning events. Students often work on larger projects in the community, too. One recent project saw students collaborating with a community organization to set up a market on campus that sold affordable produce and groceries to students.