Co-op placements give students a leg up

Wed, Dec 17, 2014

When Khuong Vu walked across the stage to receive his undergraduate degree at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) recently, he already had a job.

And he’s convinced it’s because of the three co-operative education (co-op) placements he did while working on his BBA in accounting at KPU.

Without co-op, I would not be where I am today,” says Vu, who is an assurance associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Co-op opened doors for me.”

Co-operative education is a program that integrates academic studies with paid, full-time work. KPU students who enrol in co-op gain practical experience in their chosen field while earning a competitive wage.

Co-op programs alternate between study and work semesters, thereby allowing students to apply the skills and knowledge they acquire from their on-campus courses to real-life work experiences, and vice-versa.

“It’s a winning experiential combination,” says Shawn Erickson, KPU’s director of Co-operative Education and Career Services. “Students graduate with a credential having gained insight into their chosen field, while earning a salary.”

Co-op placements at KPU have grown from 134 placements in the 2008/09 semester to 264 placements in 2013/14. Erickson credits the success of the program to the hard work of his KPU team and the accomplishments of Co-op students in their work terms.

“There really is no downside to cooperative education,” says Erickson. “Students gain experience while making positive contributions to the success of their co-op employer through the skills and knowledge they bring to the workplace.”

Vu completed three co-op placements at KPU. He worked at Heli-One as a finance intern doing bank reconciliations, variance analysis and a project for the company’s Chief Financial Officer. Vu also worked as a corporate tax assessor for the Canada Revenue Agency.

“My work term expanded my overall academic experience,” Vu explains. “I felt like a contributor in my classes rather than just a student learning something and needing to pass.”

Vu says co-op placements also give students valuable opportunities to network because “you never know who will help you down the road. Connections are so important these days.”

KPU offers co-operative education within the following programs:

  • Computer information systems diploma

  • Environmental technology diploma

  • Marketing management diploma

  • Bachelor of technology in information technology

  • Bachelor of business administration in accounting

  • Bachelor of business administration in entrepreneurial leadership

  • Bachelor of business administration in human resources management

For more information on co-operative education at KPU, visit


Caption: Khuong Vu says his co-op placement helped him find employment after graduation.

Media contact:
Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist, KPU
t: 604.599.2883
c: 604.364.1288

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