How do I get there?
Attending a CO-OP student abroad information session
This information session is a must! Given the challenges with securing an international work term, it is advised that you attend the session scheduled approximately nine months prior to your expected departure.
During this session you will
- learn about the types of international work terms that are available, how they are typically secured, and the criteria necessary for your job to be approved as an international CO-OP work term;
- hear from a CO-OP student that has completed an international work term;
- review typical costs (travel, insurance, housing), remuneration and funding sources;
- understand visas and work permits;
- learn about the various organizations that facilitate international work terms; meet a number of representatives;
- schedule an individual consultation: Finding your own international CO-OP job.
What you need to know about the overseas job market
- The words "internship" or "work term" have different connotations in different countries.
- Not all countries are familiar with CO-OP programs. Even in the U.S., CO-OP may not mean the same thing as CO-OP in Canada.
- Different countries have different systems for paying interns. For example, the remuneration that students in Sweden receive is regulated by their government. This means that Swedish companies are not responsible for a student's pay. Canadian students may not be eligible for the same benefits as the students who are citizens of that country.
- Current internship opportunities reflect the reality of the labour market and economy. For example, jobs in traditional sciences such as biology and engineering are generally easier to find, pay better, and are more likely to offer benefits than jobs in the social sciences.
- While many companies want to hire Canadian students, other companies are not convinced that hiring an international student will benefit them. This means that you may have to work extra hard to convey your strengths and suitability to an employer from a different country.
International placement options
There are three ways to approach international placement
- Independent job search
- Participating in an organized program
- Applying to the limited opportunities posted in the Navigator
Some students choose to find their own international placement. Doing so does require a considerable time investment but keep in mind that the CO-OP Office can also assist you with organizing, planning and monitoring your job search efforts.
The University of Ottawa Co-operative Education Programs are constantly working to expand the international resources that are available to you. You can take advantage of CO-OP's knowledge of companies that offer paid internships by browsing through lists of opportunities and applying to jobs that appeal to you. There may also be specific employment opportunities available through the COOP Navigator.
The BIG Guide to Living and Working Overseas - Create a free account with your @uOttawa.ca address.
Packing up and leaving to go work in a foreign country can be daunting. There are key items to consider, namely expenses, time constraints, and your own personal readiness.
Working abroad can be expensive
Depending on the work you will be doing abroad, it is possible that it will provide you with a lower salary than what you are accustomed to. It is also important to be aware of the upfront costs involved with leaving the country. Items like health insurance, passport, work permit (having to travel to other Canadian cities to obtain it), airline ticket, immunizations, biometrics (fingerprinting), first and last month rent all need to be taken into account when planning your pre-departure budget.
Bursaries and scholarships can help! There are bursaries available to you if you choose to work abroad. Some of these have specific application deadlines and therefore need to be organized ahead of time. For more details, click on the following link: Mobility Scholarships and Bursaries.
Planning a work term abroad takes time
Did you know
- that some deadlines are more than six months before start dates;
- that it can take three months or longer to procure a work permit;
- that some jobs require you submit documents such as letters of reference, photos of yourself, cover letters, samples of previous work and transcripts along with an application?
Fortunately, with a little bit of planning, many students are successful in organizing their trips and go on to experience an unforgettable work term abroad. Remember that CO-OP is here to help with planning and organizing your work experience abroad.
At the University of Ottawa, we believe that international work terms are among the most valuable experiences a student can have. We also know from experience that international CO-OP is not for everyone. With great risks come great rewards, but if you are not personally ready for international travel, it is not worth the risk.
Take a minute now to ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I a patient, open-minded person?
- Can I keep a cool head in difficult times?
- Do I adapt well to constant changes?
- Do I truly have a sense of adventure?
- Can I laugh at myself when I make mistakes?
- Am I ready to accept the inevitability of the complications that will arise from communicating with those from another country?
Here is an example of what you may have to do to secure your work term abroad. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I attended the CO-OP student abroad information session as well as the CO-OP pre-departure training?
- Have I met with a CO-OP professional development specialist?
- Have I consulted the DFAIT Web site for updates on my destination country's security status?
- Have I updated my resumé to reflect the standards of my destination country?
- Have I written any required cover letters?
- Have I found a language tutor to help me prepare for job interviews and employment in the host country's language?
- Have I contacted professors and employers for letters of reference?
- Have I applied for scholarships and bursaries?
- Have I applied for a work permit?
- Have I applied for a travel Visa?
- Have I found someone to sublet my apartment?
- Have I found someone to feed my pet?
- Have I adequately researched my destination country?
- Do I have the appropriate level of health insurance or coverage?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Am I eligible for international CO-OP?
You are eligible for international CO-OP if you have paid your CO-OP fees, spoken with a CO-OP professional development specialist, attended all necessary workshops and have already completed one CO-OP work term.
Do I always need a work visa?
Yes. You need a valid work visa for every country you are working in, including the U.S. The process of procuring a visa is different for each country and it is the student's responsibility to ensure they have the proper documentation before departing Canada.
What's the difference between a work permit and a visa?
A visa is an official document that allows a non-citizen to enter another country. A work permit allows a non-citizen to earn a wage in another country. For more information, visit www.voyage.gc.ca/preparation_information/menu-fra.
How long does it take to get a passport, visa or work permit?
It can take months to get a passport, visa, or work permit. The sooner you apply, the sooner you will receive your passport and other work/travel documents.
What is the likelihood that I will find an international work term?
While finding work internationally is a challenge, the opportunities out there are truly limitless. By referring to the job sites, programs, and companies we recommend, and by getting help from the CO-OP team, the only thing stopping you from finding a job is you.
What is covered by my employer in a student's international work term?
This differs from one job to another. Students are usually responsible for their own airfare and health insurance. Employers will pay salary and will often provide or assist with accommodation.
Who pays for my visa, work permit, passport, and health insurance?
It varies, sometimes the student, sometimes the employer. This should be stated in the job description. Students are responsible for the cost of their visa, passport, health and life insurance. Visit www.voyage.gc.ca/publications/bon-voyage-eng.asp#insure for more information.
What countries will be easiest for me to find a job in?
The United States and Germany in particular are more familiar with the concepts of CO-OP and paid internships, and are therefore ideal places to begin looking for work.
How far in advance should I plan?
As far in advance as possible (at least six to nine months). It is never too far in advance to begin planning your work term abroad. The longer you put off planning, the more stress you are likely to experience.
What if I get sick or injured when I'm on my work term?
The University of Ottawa Co-operative Education Programs require that you purchase travel insurance coverage that includes unlimited repatriation. If it is appropriate to your situation we recommend that you speak with your parent or guardian about coverage that you may already have. We encourage you to become familiar with any hazards that may be typical of your destination country and take all necessary precautions (i.e., malaria medication). Remember, if your country is not deemed safe for travel by DFAIT, we cannot allow you to take a work term there.
What if I get there and decide I don't like my work term and want to come back?
Your work term is an agreement between you and the employer. You are expected to honour the contractual agreement with your employer unless there are clear circumstances which warrant a reassessment. You are advised to keep in touch with your CO-OP coordinator and with other students working, living and studying in the region.
Are the work terms competitive?
Yes. Just like any other job search, it is expected that you will have to sell yourself. Plus, employers are likely to give preference to local candidates.
How can I get money to finance my voyage?
You can search for scholarships and bursaries through the University of Ottawa, the federal and provincial governments, and private organizations. Also, discuss this with your CO-OP professional development specialist who would be aware of funding opportunities for CO-OP students.
Description of some 'CO-OP Abroad' programs
See Appendix C (starting on page 15) in the Finding a CO-OP Placement Abroad [PDF] workbook.