Late last year we decided to try a little experiment and hire a co-op student for a four month term in our User Experience Group. Turns out it was an awesome experience and we have had so much success with our first co-op student that we have extended his term to eight months and hired a second! In January we hired Kurtis Beard as a Junior Designer and at the beginning of this month we were pleased to welcome Ben Ng to the team as a Junior Information Architect for the summer term. Both students come to us from SFU's School of Interactive Arts + Technology program. If you are considering hiring a co-op student I would highly recommend it!

The process is surprisingly simple:

  • Find a school that offers a program that compliments the skills you need in your organization.
  • Post a position with the co-op office (be sure to tailor it to students, you can't expect them to have loads of client experience or experience with specific technologies).
  • Review the incoming resumes and determine your first cut for initial interviews — we prefer applicants with an online portfolio.
  • Provide an assignment for the students to present at the second interview — this gives you a feel for the kind of work they can do and also gives them a good idea of the kind of work you want them to do.
  • If you are lucky and you find the right fit, you simply notify the co-op office that you wish to make an offer. Assuming you made a good impression with the student they will be keen to accept!

SFU dedicates an entire page to the benefits of hiring a co-op student (new perspectives, ready and eager to work, cost effective, future hiring potential, etc.) and I would have to say they are pretty bang on. One thing to note is that you have to be prepared to move fast, the good students gets snapped up early!