The Co-op Option is a one-time work experience placement for project option students, usually in the summer between the first and second academic years of study. Under the supervision of one or more worksite supervisors and a SPPH faculty member, students have opportunities to apply their knowledge, develop professional competence, and gain experience working as part of a team in a real-life setting.
The summer co-op placement typically begins May 1 and ends in the second or third week of August. The exact duration is determined by mutual consent between the student and the employer. On the job, students work five days a week, with the equivalent of one day per week being available for consultation with the faculty project advisor or other university experts, and for using the library or other resources. Alternative scheduling arrangements will be considered if appropriate. Please note that many co-op jobs require the student to relocate for the duration of the co-op; students are not guaranteed a local job placement.
For Employers interested in hosting MSc OEH Student for a co-op placement please see Information for Employers.
Applying for the Positions
The process begins with mailing of letters in early November to all potential employers in the School database. The purpose of the mailing is to invite employers to participate in the co-op program. Employers are asked to complete a response form at this time, and to send a job description as soon as possible and no later than December 15. If you have suggestions for potential employers to add to our database for this mail-out, please forward this information to the Co-op Coordinator.
The Co-op Coordinator posts the job descriptions as they come in, screens the resumés of students interested in these positions, and forwards student resumés to the employers selected by the students. Students are required to apply for a minimum of four job postings.
Approximate timeline for the process:
- October/November - 1st Information session for students: Co-Op Process
- December 15 - Date for employers to submit job descriptions
- December/January - 2nd Information session for students: Resumes/Applications/Interview skills
- End of January - Students submit all job applications
- February - Employers' select and interview applicants
- Mid-February - Interviews
- End of February - Rankings submitted by employers & students
- 1st March - Final matching and offer letters finalized
- April - 3rd Information session for students: Co-Op expectations and Conduct
- May to August - Coop placement
- Timeline for Report below
Students interested in procuring their own summer co-op placements may seek opportunities through networking or past work experiences. The Co-op Coordinator should be made aware of their intent, and ongoing communication between such student(s) and the Coordinator is advised. Students are required to seek approval from the Co-op Director regarding the suitability and scope of the potential project.
SPPH 598 can only be taken once during the MSc degree. If students wish to do a second placement, it can be considered as a directed studies course for credit (subject to approval).
Expectations for the Co-op Placement
Before your co-op work term begins, your employer will receive a letter from us that provides details of our expectations regarding your placement and the name of your faculty advisor. A copy will also be sent to you.
You are responsible for the following:
Scope of work to be performed. Meet with your workplace supervisor within the first two weeks of the placement, and discuss the objectives and specific plans for your work term as precisely as possible. Inform your faculty advisor of the placement details. Please make sure you have a safety orientation. You may also need to ask about whether you will be doing any driving on the job, and if so, consider insurance and compensation. Also discuss that you are required to do a technical report; it is probably useful to have your supervisor read the technical report section below.
Project objectives. Ensure that you have a written description of your objectives and send a copy to your faculty advisor, no later than the middle of May.
Placement duration. The exact length of employment is to be defined by mutual consent between you and your employer. The usual placement duration is approximately three and a half months (May 1 to August 15). You should expect to work the equivalent of 5 days per week.
Our laboratory supplies and services. The teaching laboratory and equipment, as well as the expertise of faculty and staff, are available to support your project. These support services will be charged to your employer at cost. Discuss the lab needs of the project with the Lab Manager early and make any equipment requests as soon as possible, but no later than mid-June. Make sure your employer receives and approves a budget for any lab services before you start sampling. If you are in town, you can perform simple laboratory analyses (e.g., gravimetric analyses) to save your employer labour costs. Please make sure that the employer receives and pays the invoice for any services before the end of the summer.
Faculty project advisor. Your faculty project advisor was listed on the employer letter and copied to you. Call the Co-op Coordinator if you are unsure who you were assigned. Please meet with your faculty advisor shortly after your first meeting with your workplace supervisor. Inform your faculty advisor of any serious problems or concerns as soon as they arise during the work term. Otherwise, barring no problems, check in with your advisor by phone about once a month. Your advisor may visit you during the summer.
These are general guidelines only. Each student should discuss the content and style of the technical report with their faculty project advisor.
Objectives of the report. The report is intended to communicate, in a technical manner, to faculty, student colleagues, and to the employer what has been accomplished and learnt during the work placement relevant to your studies. Reports will normally be submitted to placement employers.
Confidentiality. Please discuss with your workplace supervisor that you are required to do a technical report, a poster, and a presentation. Most employers welcome this showcase of their health and safety program, but a few may not want the company identified. This concern must be respected. In such cases the company name is typically not included in the report, although the type of business is described. The report can be marked "Company Confidential," and in that case it will not be stored in the OEH library. It's very useful to have photos of your co-op site. You should request permission from your employer and from any individual subjects before taking photos. Any photos of individuals will require a model release form, which is available from the MSc OEH program coordinator. As in any report, results related to individual subjects must not be identifiable.
General subject matter.There is no fixed requirement regarding the report's subject matter, except that it must meet the above objectives. Every work placement is different. Some students undertake research, others "consulting" work. Some students work on one major project, others on many. The contents of the report will reflect the placement work, although it is not necessary to discuss all aspects of the work done. The following is a description of typical content for the report. If it does not appear to fit your specific project, discuss an alternative approach with your faculty advisor.
Report format and style. The report should be typed with no less than 1.5 line spacing and reasonable margins. Students should use their best judgment regarding length. Reports normally contain 10-15 pages of text plus tables, figures, appendices, etc. Keep in mind this is a technical report, not a thesis.
Typical report content
- Executive Summary (placed at the head of the report, but written last)
- Table of contents
- Background on the placement organization
- All reports should describe the structure of the placement organization and the position of occupational and/or environmental professionals within it.
- This may include both general overall goals and specific (task-related) objectives, for one or more projects.
- Relevance or Rationale
- This section provides the rationale or reasons why the work was considered worth undertaking. If relevant, discuss previous work carried out by the company (or by others e.g., as reported in the scientific literature) that led up to the work you will be describing.
- This section is often divided into subsections. These could include a general description of the project plan (including numbers, e.g., of sites or persons to be tested) and specific details of the monitoring and/or analysis methods used. It also should include a description of the methods for recording, analyzing, and reporting results.
- Provide sufficient details of the overall project plan and the specific methods so that another person could repeat your work if necessary.
- This is where you describe what you found. Wherever possible, use tables, graphs and figures supplemented by text. Always include the number of samples, persons, etc. whenever you provide summary information (e.g., average values).
- Discussion, interpretation, conclusions
- This is your opportunity to comment on your findings, to discuss the limitations of the work, and to highlight the important points.
- This may also include discussion of future plans for follow-up on the work.
Marking. Following your placement, you are to submit a draft to your advisor (see date below). If appropriate, suggestions for changes/edits will be given. You are then to submit a revised copy of your report to the Co-op Coordinator (see date below). The report will then be read by two faculty members (one being your faculty advisor, the other being a faculty member who will review all current SPPH 598 reports). All reports will be evaluated on the quality of their technical content, presentation and effectiveness of communication.
If necessary, you may be asked to further revise and resubmit the report. Following submission (or resubmission), a pass/fail mark will be assigned for SPPH 598, based on the report plus the oral and poster presentations.
2017 Report Deadlines
- Monday, Sept 11, 2017 (4:30 pm) - Submission of draft report to your faculty co-op advisor. Note how early this date is in the term. Students who are successful at completing their report before the end of their work term find the new academic term easier to deal with. Remember that there is also a poster and a presentation to be prepared once the report is complete.
- Monday, Sept 18, 2017 (4:30 pm) – Advisor to return report to you, with comments and suggestions for edits
- Monday, Sept 25, 2017 (4:30 pm) - Submission of revised report to Kay Teschke to review. You may be asked to further revise and resubmit the report within one week.
- Monday, October 2, 2017 (4:30 pm) – Final report submitted to Program Coordinator, incorporating revisions from all reviewers.
Oral and poster presentations.
- To the School: You will be responsible for a 15-minute oral presentation and a poster summarizing the content of your technical report. It is very useful to have photos or other visual images for these presentations. Keep your camera handy during the summer, but check with your employer to confirm what you can and cannot photograph. Usually late October, date and time TBA
- To the BC-Yukon AIHA local section: All students bring their posters to the local section meeting. Two students are selected to present orally at this meeting, usually the ones with the highest scores on the School presentations, but sometimes confidentiality constraints require substitutions. Usually mid-November, date and time TBA
The comprehensive exam must be written by all project students before they can graduate. It is usually offered once a year, in April, although students completing course requirements in January may also write the test at that time. The exam can be taken anytime after the completion of all core and required courses.
The examination is written, 3.5 hours in length, and open book. The exam typically consists of three to five questions, all of which must be answered. The questions are comprehensive in nature and should be answered with consideration of all core content areas of the program.
The comprehensive exam as a whole is graded on a pass/fail basis. Each question is marked by two faculty members and assigned a percentage score. The average score for the exam is then calculated from the individual marks. An average grade of 68% (B-) or greater must be achieved to pass the exam.
If this grade is not achieved, the student will be advised that an oral re-examination will be scheduled for a later date. Guidelines for the oral exam will be presented to the student at that time. The student will be given every opportunity to review his/her written exam and to discuss with faculty members where to concentrate to improve performance before the oral exam.
The Co-Op program has been running for many years now, and there have been some great employers who have hosted MSc OEH students.
Below is a list of some of the past co-op employers our students have been placed with over the years, to help give an idea of the types of companies that have, or may be, interested in hosting a student again.
- ActSafe - Vancouver, BC
- AMEC - Burnaby, BC
- Areva, Saskatoon, Sask
- ATCO Gas - Edmonton, AB
- Ballard Power Systems - Burnaby, BC
- BC Hydro - Burnaby, BC
- BC Ministry of Health Services - Langley, BC
- BC Research Inc. - Vancouver, BC
- BHP Billiton - Ekati Mine, NWT
- Canfor - Prince George, BC
- Canada Bread - Langley, BC & Edmonton, AB
- Cargill AgHorizons - Western Canada
- Chevron - Burnaby, BC
- City of Vancouver - Vancouver, BC
- City of Kamloops - Kamloops, BC
- Coast Mountain Bus - Burnaby, BC
- CSCHAH - Winnipeg, MB
- CXY Chemicals - Vancouver, BC
- DuPont Specialty Chemicals - Deepwater, NJ
- Esso/Imperial Oil - Edmonton, AB
- Encana - Calgary, AB
- Edmonton Public School Board - Edmonton, AB
- Fraser Health Authority - Burnaby, BC
- HRSDC - Vancouver, BC
- Kelowna Flightcraft - Kelowna, BC
- Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources - Victoria, BC
- Ministry of Health, Environmental Health Assessment Branch - Creston, BC
- Ministry of Environmental Management - Vancouver, Victoria, BC
- Norske Skog - Crofton, Mackenzie, Campbell River, BC
- Nova Chemicals - Joffre, Calgary, AB
- OHSAH - Vancouver, BC
- Pepsi Bottling Group - Delta, BC
- Pesticides and Pest Management Canada - Ottawa, ON
- PetroCanada - Edmonton, AB
- PHH ARC Environmental
- PHSA - Vancouver, BC
- Pulp & Paper Research Institute of Canada - Vancouver, BC
- Rio Tinto Alcan Ltd - Kitimat, BC
- SaskEnergy - Saskatoon, SK
- Shell Canada - Scotford, AB
- Sterling Chemicals - Saskatoon, SK
- Suncor Energy Inc - Fort McMurray, AB
- Syncrude Canada - Aurora, AB
- Teck - Trail, BC
- Walt Disney World - Orlando, FL
- Vancouver Coastal Health - Vancouver, BC
- Westcoast Energy Inc. - Fort Nelson, Prince George, Taylor, BC
- Weyerhauser Pulp & Paper - New Westminster, Kamloops, BC; Grande Prairie, AB
- WorkSafeBC - Langley, Vancouver, Campbell River, BC
- Vancouver International Airport Authority - Vancouver, BC
- Vancouver Shipyards Ltd - Vancouver, BC
Am I eligible to participate in the program? What if I am a part-time MSc student?
MSc Students who have chosen the Project option, instead of the Thesis option, and have undertaken the pre-requisite subjects, will be eligible to undertake a summer co-op placement during the summer between their first & second years of study.
Part-time students may also be eligible to undertake a summer co-op with approval from the Co-op Faculty Advisor.
Can I find my own job or do I have to go through SPPH Co-op program to find a summer placement?
You may chose to either find your own placement or participate in the School program but cannot do both simultaneously. Any external co-op positions will need to be reviewed and approved by the Co-op Faculty Advisor as soon as possible, preferably before interview stage, to confirm that placement is suitable and meets requirement of SPPH 598 (6 credits) course.
If I decide to find my own job, how will I get it approved?
Students should provide the Co-op Faculty Advisor with the job description/advert and company contact information as soon as they are able. Students will still be required to do the report and presentation, and will meet the same academic requirements as students placed through the co-op program.
Placements that have not been approved will not be considered as fulfilling SPPH 598 requirements, and students will have to undertake another approved co-op placement the next year in order to graduate.
How do I apply for co-op positions? Should I contact the co-op employer directly?
All applications (cover letters & resumes) should be sent directly to the Co-op Coordinator, not the employer. The Coordinator will also organise interviews and match students to vacancies so the student should not need to directly correspond with the employer until a placement is confirmed.
Where can I get help on my application or tips on interview techniques?
A book on resumes can be signed out from the Co-op Coordinator. Additionally, there are numerous resources online to assist with all stages of job search. The Co-op Coordinator can also provide personalised assistance to students for their applications/interviews.
How many jobs do I need to apply for?
The minimum number of jobs that students need to apply for will be determined by the number of vacancies received. Please discuss with the Co-op Faculty Advisor for the exact number.
Are there many local jobs (Vancouver)? I would prefer not to relocate for summer.
We occasionally receive vacancies based in Vancouver, but the majority of SPPH co-op positions will NOT be local positions. You will need to be prepared to relocate to undertake a co-op placement. Out-of-the-city placements are often the most rewarding, because both the job and location provide new experiences.
I have an interview scheduled at the same time as class, what do I do?
The Co-op Coordinator will endeavor to schedule interviews outside of class hours but should a clash arise, the student is permitted to miss class to attend a co-op interview.
What happens after the interviews?
Employers & students will be asked to rank each other according to preference. The Co-op Coordinator & Co-op Faculty Advisor will match the students to positions and employers will confirm their acceptance of their matches. This process will be completed no later than March 15.
Who will be my project advisor?
Faculty project advisors who are best suited to the job placement will be assigned once placements have been confirmed.
When do I find out if I've got the job?
The matching process and employer confirmation should be completed by no later than March 15.
Where can I find more information on the oral and written report for SPPH 598?
Please discuss the format of the report with your work supervisor as soon as possible in the placement to determine what should be written with respect to company confidentiality. More information on the aspects of the technical report can be found in SPPH 598.
Dr. Murray Hodgson, Co-op Co-Director
604 822 3073 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Kay Teschke, Co-op Co-Director
604 822 2041 / email@example.com
Megan Wurster, Co-op Coordinator
604 822 2827 / firstname.lastname@example.org