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Co-op and work-integrated learning placements offer many benefits for both employer and student alike.

When done right, they can both inspire and lead to long-term opportunities. However, we may feel ill-equipped to manage a new, short-term employee on top of regular work expectations, especially given that much of our work is now done remotely. How can we, as supervisors, managers and colleagues, develop and supervise remote and in-person placements that make the most of a student’s skills and experience, contribute to the success of our organization’s projects, and equip the student with professional skills to succeed in their future careers?

Listen to Mark Chapeskie, Michael Schultz, Janine Scott and Cody Martin discuss how employers can maximize work-integrated learning placements in electricity so that learners have the best experience and employers can have the best results.

This webinar is proudly sponsored by Alectra Utilities.



all right uh thank you everyone for joining us today for our ehrc’s newest webinar how to get the most out

of your co-op student which is a conversation that i know uh we have with a lot of different employers across canada and one that we

were hoping to answer with our panel of experts today just some quick heads up um the webinar

today is going to be recorded and it’s going to be available afterwards on both our website as well as our youtube channel

um the webinar feature also has a q a that you can use to be able to submit questions to our moderator mark trepesky

and he’ll be able to ask those of the panel and if you’re having any sort of technical difficulties with the presentation at all today feel

free to send me an email at hossel at electricity hr and i’ll be able to help you out with that

i’d like to thank our sponsor um electric utilities ehrc’s 2021 webinar series is proudly

sponsored by elektra elektra is committed to creating a dynamic and progressive work environment where employees are safe respected

included and valued as leaders in electricity innovation and human resources practices they want to ensure ehrc is able to

deliver high quality content to the largest audience possible thank you elektra for your support

and now it’s my pleasure to introduce our panelists for today mark chapesky who will be our moderator oversees the

programming at ehrc he has managed research and programs to transfer skills from regulated occupations into unregulated occupations

while minimizing job seeker retraining mark’s extensive experience covers a range of skills in geography including

sub-saharan africa taiwan and across canada mark oversees empowering futures and our other subsidy and employer supporting

programs mark is joining us today from ottawa ontario with over 15 years experience managing

complex projects in the mineral exploration and resource extraction industries michael has developed a broad and engaging set of skills

enabling him to provide effective management and operational leadership to a breadth of project types his work is taken in from southern

africa to northern canada where he now oversees some of the most remote photovoltaic solar installations in the world

with his help salvist has become the largest pv solar installer north of 60 degrees with over 400

installations to date originally from edmonton he now proudly calls the yukon his home which is where he’s joining us from

today janine scott hails from newfoundland and labrador she started her marketing career in

waterloo ontario with blackberry where she worked in several marketing and communications teams she enjoys working with technology and

startups um sorry today she leads the marketing team

at kitchener-based energy technology startup and powered which works to connect iot assets directly to energy markets

helping businesses save money and lower emissions outside of work she mentors young female marketers as when her three boys aren’t keeping her

busy as her family enjoys lots of crafting reading and outdoor activities such as geocaching janine is joining us today from near

kitchener ontario cody martin is a human resources professional who works in talent acquisition department at fortisbc

part of cody’s role is to support the organization’s student integrated program with a focus on recruitment and onboarding

in addition to working closely with student opportunities cody volunteers his time to the immigration employment council of

bc and multiple indigenous associations to provide mentorship and coaching to those who are seeking career path assistance

cody is joining us from near vancouver british columbia with that i’m going to turn it over to our moderator mark chapesky

thanks alex and uh thank you panelists for joining me today it’s great that we have such a diverse group from a wide variety

of backgrounds and geographies across the country and experience and i think it’s a great opportunity to

talk about co-op students and the importance of student hiring in canada so

i’m with with the introduction sort of out of the way i think what i’m going to do is just dive right in um so the first one for

everyone um to you what’s so what’s your experience in in managing uh co-op students or or

interns specifically in your in your current organizations or in organizations you’ve worked with in the past

michael why don’t you lead us off you were the first off of uh mute yeah sure i certainly can do that uh

the the interesting position about about solves is that we cover quite a large breadth

of co-op students that we hire or students that we hire within the company so we have the entire operations end of

the unit uh which is solar panel or solar pv uh design installation and then we’ve

got the whole front of house which is business development marketing

uh sales assessments and we and we pull uh we pull students

into all of those fields from electricity hr and from the yukon student co-op programs

and it’s it’s a little bit different depending on where where that that that co-op student might have

a seat if they have a seat in the on the operation side of things

then the roles are a lot more clearly defined and then work is a lot more clearly defined it takes a little bit less work

on the on the management side and it’s easier to to provide a more fulfilling opportunity

for them and and really get them valuable experience in their in their profession or future profession

uh when we bring students into the front of house into business development or marketing that’s where we find we have to be a

little bit more careful uh with with our with our student selection

um and and how we set them up to to succeed at solves obviously uh i know one of the questions

further on is that uh some of these placements are fairly short as short as four as four months

uh in some cases and so piecing out or parsing out a piece of a project uh that

that that uh that co-op student or that student can complete during their tenure ad solve this is

really really important for us it might be it might be part of a larger uh

a larger project but we really want to make sure that they can start and finish something in addition to all the other

activities so from for managing students yeah it depends on which student comes in the door and what

their background and what their strengths are but uh setting setting the goal or setting a deliverable that that works

within their timeline as opposed to just joining a group is is what i find to be very effective and helpful thanks michael uh cody i saw you

nod your head a couple of times there do you want to jump in on that one a little bit yeah sure thing so uh

similar to michael here we have many different uh co-op programs that we do within our within our organization we

have engineering roles uh business roles external relations finance and so on it’s it’s really whatever department wants to

you know take on the opportunity to to bring in a student learner to to kind of help

give them some experience as well as you know take that opportunity for ourselves so my my personal involvement i’m i’m

involved with the uh the pre-recruitment uh recruitment and uh the post so uh building a first

uh relationship with this co-op student as well as uh helping find the right fit for the

opportunity and then maintaining that relationship even after the term has ended

and really we do see a lot of value in having those periodic check-ins and just

keeping a pulse from an hr standpoint on you know how this this student is

experiencing and and what uh what their thoughts are and any feedback that we can do to improve our system

thanks cody janine yeah sure gene howard cody raises a great point

we’ve been really fortunate to always have co-ops and as we’re a scaling company we’ve had co-ops

when we were five people and we’ve had five co-ops and now we’re 38 and we’ll have another five co-ops

so we’ve really seen their value and where i’ve seen my interaction has been

both in the hiring the onboarding process and as well as the off-boarding and maintaining that

relationship after the fact and i think every little bit that you can

learn each time you have another co-op helps the next one be that much more successful

especially when it comes to the electricity industry there are so many complications in the

industry as as it is it’s often hard to really fine-tune an onboarding process

that can make them feel confident and successful in the industry you know jane you’ve raised an

interesting point um you talked a little bit about onboarding and sort of the recruitment process you’ve each sort of touched on that a little bit so

maybe maybe talk to us a little bit about how you have successfully sort of approached like what sort of

tips tricks that sort of thing have you approached in onboarding and recruiting co-op students and interns specifically

for us when it comes to recruitment i am i look at it from a marketing

standpoint but it’s really about what’s out there in terms of both glass door reviews

maintaining the relationships um with your past co-ops touching base with them

because as we know with co-ops if you’re recruiting from that same school they’ll they’ll ask hey cody hey michael

you’ve worked with empower before how did you like that so making sure you’re having those touch points are

important so that the feedback both publicly and word of mouth are positive about that experience

those are really our big success factors for people uh coming back or for recruiting better

candidates right now we’re finally in a in a position where we’re where we are a top-tier pick which

is kind of exciting um as well from an onboarding standpoint

we are looking at incorporating some learning tools to help retain some knowledge that we

bombard them with in the first couple of days but um for us it’s really about creating

relationships within the company so a lot of off offhand virtual coffee

scent uh sessions with other peers in other areas of the department and making sure you’re having those

weekly and monthly touch points with your manager um to have a transparent and an open discussion about things that you may

understand or things that you need some help understanding

cody or michael do you want to jump in on that one a little bit uh yeah i’ve got some thoughts i’m ready

to go um recruiting for cell vest is is pretty interesting

um renewables is still is still relatively newish in canada uh

we obviously have a lot more established districts uh like eastern canada for sure and bc

is really gonna end up there alberta’s is charging forward uh and the uconn

of course is charging forward now as well but um there’s there’s no there’s no

experienced professionals or programs that are that are turning out uh students that

that have experience in the renewable energy industry so for the entire time solvus has been operating when when

we’re recruiting and or hiring uh two things come into play um one is the type of people that we look for

are people that are generally passionate about the work that salvador salves does and passionate

about renewables and have a desire to learn basically they they just say i really want to get into renewables

and then we just look uh look to the resume and or the the body of experience and try to

find um applicable skill sets that we know that we can we can maneuver into the type of

positions that we require um and so it creates a very unique environment for

for students and for for permanent staff as well in that we really we really want to and

we have to play to everyone’s strengths so someone may come in uh someone may come in at a certain role

but we very quickly find out that they’re going to be very adept at something else so we have to be pretty dynamic and flexible at solves

to take best advantage of of of the skills that are brought to us by our students

in the recruiting process for sure that’s interesting michael i mean it aligns with some of the things we’ve

heard too at ehrc about uh renewable training programming across canada and something that we’ve been working on as

an organization so um we’ll be in touch about that i’m sure in the in the coming months

uh cody over to you sure thing yeah so the recruitment area um a lot of the best practices that i’ve

found um that have been working well for us is before we even get started but getting that posting up there i want to have a

conversation with a person requesting you know a new co-op student i want to get a good understanding on

you know what the role is going to look like you know who’s going to be the designated person that’s going to lead this student

and and really what kind of previous knowledge are we looking for that way when we start to source in our

candidates i can have some pre-interview conversations with these candidates that we’re looking

at and engage you know is this a role that’s really going to meet their interests because we want to find someone similar

to michael where they’re they’re passionate about the role and they’re able to really uh learn and and enjoy

out of their own interest as well as it aligning with kind of their career path so that’s something that i that we do to

make sure that we’re we’re finding the right fit each time uh and then we just go through our recruitment process and we we like to

keep it quite light and open for you know back and forth conversations so they can start to build a relationship with our

with our recruitment manager as well uh and then that way we kind of go through but uh i think really the

pre-work stuff is is what allows us to be successful in this area that’s great cody i mean the importance

of pre-work certainly can’t be understated i think you’ve each uh you’ve each mentioned that for sure um

now once a co-op student or an intern is is uh on board with your organization um

obviously there become new sort of all the work balance obligations um so this is sort of one of the areas

where sometimes we’ve heard in the past you know maybe it’s maybe it’s tough to manage this new person coming in and i think there’s

always a little bit of that when when you hire anybody in in any role really the the sort of onboarding into a

unique company culture or unique skill sets or that sort of thing so how do you balance your own work

your own work objectives with managing and supervising co-op students at the same time and how do you work with your teams in

doing so uh michael i think we haven’t started with you yet oh sorry cody

not a problem why don’t you lead us off and then we’ll come back to cody sorry about that um

yeah sure in in a lot of cases it’s relatively simple the uh the co-op students that we hire are

going to be under the direct supervision of someone else so i just have to make sure that the i

just have to make sure that the onboarding process is relatively clear and like we discussed earlier uh making sure that that projects uh

projects goals and deliverables are well defined um i mean that this is just a basic

management strategy for me but i knew it was going to come up at some point uh during this conversation is and this

comes from geology where you have a lot of uh when i was working in mineral exploration you might have you know

three to four different uh professionals working underneath you and then three to four assistants

working under them or students and then three to four laborers under that and then three to four grunts after that

uh and the trickle down seems uh can often end up that the the

the people lower down or the people that are a student placement uh don’t feel engaged with the project

so once again uh the most important thing from my and and to my supervisors and then directly

onto the co-op students is that everybody understands the larger picture of what what it is we’re trying to accomplish

even if even if that student is just working on this tiny little piece you know like the guys over we’ve got an

electricity hr student at my house right now who’s working on replacing the electrical panel um you know

why why do we label this wire this certain way it’s so that we avoid this situation and so we avoid that error because if we

had that error you know we might blow up michael’s house it’s not just label that wire properly

it’s why do we want to label that wire properly and what are the risks and what are the outcomes so bringing the bringing the larger

picture to the student is is really important for me and i have to make sure that the supervisors

are are doing that properly and then if i if i do have time uh i generally like to try and sneak in one

one special project uh directly with a student uh during their tenure at solvus uh i

obviously go through all the resumes and and i see something i see a skill set there that i find might be interesting and then

i task them with that and see what sort of uh what sort of good stuff they can produce

special projects those are always good michael you raise a great point about you you

mentioned it earlier giving them a project that they can work on to deliver in a short period of time

and to your point about letting them see the correlation in the business i think that’s really

important too because in cases where they may not necessarily be able to work

on a project that they can deliver in their time that they solely own knowing that their contribution whether

it’s ongoing activities etc where that where that input is delivering

results makes them feel valued and knowing that it is really important yeah

they’re not just they’re uh keeping a seat worm they’re they’re contributing to the company

in a meaningful way and if they can see that then then their contribution is going to be a lot that much more valuable

cody over to you yeah for sure i i have a lot of similar experience from

from michael here i think setting you know very clear expectations on on on things uh for this co-op student is

very important uh to allow you to kind of balance your time as well as having that uh that student integrated

learner feel comfortable and confident that they’re you know kind of operating within the business expectations so having that

like clear set is is really a good way to go especially with kind of our virtual setting that we’re currently in

but other things i’m it does take time you need to have someone who is available to be

there for support these student integrated learners are going to have lots of questions but

that’s great that’s what we want to see because it’s showing that they’re engaged and that that they care about what they’re learning about and then they’re they’re

interested so being available to explain you know the whys of how we do things uh and and really understand on kind of

what our approach is to managing that business that’s that’s kind of the key yeah to

touch on that quickly um this is maybe more sort of the base part of the conversation but it

it might be worth mentioning at this point because everybody’s thinking it um electricity hr is is a great program

and we’ve been using it for years uh but it is a wage subsidy program and

especially when times are when times are lean especially last year during covet we we saw canada

canada summer jobs really roll out the wage subsidy work um we we never really see it as a

as a wage subsidy we see it as a as an opportunity to bring somebody on board and get value out of them if you’re not

in a position to provide the proper supervision or or have have the management or

supervisory staff to to make that experience meaningful for that student

then you shop you probably shouldn’t hire them it’s not it’s not cheap labor it’s it’s probably more work

and just so everyone knows i didn’t pay michael to say any of that

um so one of the things that that sort of comes to mind cody you endemic so

what what have you done or how your organizations transition to supervising remotely

um would be my question and then sort of what challenges and new opportunities has this presented

yeah for sure i was kind of leading into that uh with the last answer so yeah happy to answer

similar to a lot of places around the country and around the world you know 12 months ago we had to really pivot the way that we do things uh we

weren’t really experiencing a lot of remote uh remote work or or virtual settings so this is something

we had to adapt to quickly so using kind of the regular tools you know video conferences and live chats as much

as possible and having ways to kind of engage with our teams um other things that we’ve adopted and seen

within some of our departments that are doing well they picked up something similar to our operations team you know doing toolbox

meetings in the morning it could be informal you get a cup of coffee and you have half an hour where you discuss you know what you’re going to be

working on and and you can get suggestions from you know other people within your group and this experience for

our student learners are is great as well they get a good pulse on what other people are working on some of our you

know senior engineers and so on you know different types of work and they can hear what that discussion sounds like a little bit of

brainstorming to help you know feed some of their interest when i’m thinking about challenges and opportunities really i want to think

about opportunities and with these student learners um i mean over the last 10 years there’s been a

big change to online study and remote learning and i think uh these these student learners are coming

with with uh refined skill sets in this area having transparency of their work reporting to

instructors and collaborating with uh peers that they’ve made maybe never met in

before in in their prior history so i think that they have a lot a lot that they can offer us in in ways

to improve our virtual settings and and to help make sure that we are having a higher engagement within our teams

that’s great cody um did either of uh either janine maybe we can go over to you how have you found uh managing

uh and and onboarding during the the uh pandemic well i’m we’ve tried a bunch of things

so unfortunately we’re coming up on a year dare i say it of working remotely we ourselves have

gone from 7 to 38 people in that last time so we’ve been fortunate i guess to have

fine-tuned some onboarding valerie um asked about some tools that we’ve been using in terms of supervising

remotely and learning remotely we’ve done a couple of things that i really

believe truly come together to cody’s point we do a daily stand up that’s 15 minutes per

team in the morning and we do a daily debrief again as a co-op being an

e a fly on the wall having an open ear hearing how people use terminology and

then they have a follow-up with their mean uh manager quickly afterwards or before the debrief so that they can

quickly say hey cody mentioned this what does that really mean so it’s just capturing those learning opportunities

fairly quickly um outside of that we do a lot of informal

virtual networking whether that’s an an open office we use a a program called and it’s kind of like an online chat room you can put yourself to a desk and

it locks you and people can knock on your door but at least it simulates that ability to pop over to someone’s desk

and ask a question fairly openly and then of course if you’re not in that office they know you’re probably

unavailable outside of that some other things that we have done has been kahoots in trying to make

learning about our industry that may not be so relevant to them a little more interesting um we

typically have fridays the last hour from four to five we do

games virtual games whether that’s pictionary or a kahoot and we usually throw in a

learning topic there but then again there’s general chit chat about what’s going on in the industry

something that we’re trying to valerie’s point about um how do we incorporate to help the

students train we use vidyard where we record a lot of our training sessions and what

that has really helped what that has helped is it’s always available there for the students to

refer to it especially for complicated subjects and it also helps offload that from a manager’s

perspective and then the managers are trained about what assets are available from a company’s point of view because

from hr to a manager sometimes managers forget what that onboarding process is like

so knowing from a manager’s perspective the assets that they have to refer their co-ops to

and then we’re looking at learning a learning system it’s a local kitchener company called

exonify they do a lot of frontline training for companies like walmart but they can do

health and safety harassment training um for us we’re looking at using them

for very industry specific stuff that changes from province to state to province to state

and can get extremely complicated and what’s great about exonify is that they gamify

it so it makes it a little interesting it’s 5-10 minutes every day and then it’s customized so what can

happen is if janine’s really good at one area she probably won’t keep ask being asked that question where if

cody is less aware of that particular area cody may be asked several questions

about that through the next coming weeks and then by the end of it janine and cody are at the same learning

level and they have the same education so that’s something that we’re looking to incorporate

it’s really interesting michael over to you um i don’t um the the yukon

is obviously a unique situation for covid or a lot different than it was in southern canada

to the point where for a lot of us up here it didn’t really happen or it’s still not really happening um

and so other than following following guidelines uh we pretty much we pretty much ran the shop as as we

used to um in terms of working during the pandemic there’s a lot of business development sales techniques

and installation techniques that changed but in terms of our interaction uh with our students and in the office

it was all pretty much par for the course so i count myself lucky but uh i think cody and janine have already done a

great job of discussing what management was like during the panamademic because just all the same for me i think

that’s a that’s a really interesting point though and like for the for the benefit of our viewers while we you know while there is a portion of our

workforce in the electricity industry that was able to pivot and work from home there was a significant percentage of

the workforce that had to continue working in the field or working in the op centers and that sort of thing because

um one of the things i heard one of our um uh ceos mention uh here in the uh

ontario anyway um was you you can’t very well manage the um the operation center from your

basement um you you kind of want to be doing that from the from the central office um and the same would be true of any

backup offices that are set up as well so um i i you know i sort

of took that to heart and it’s because i you know when you when we talk about um uh remote work um that’s just not the case

for a big part of this workforce so instead what we as an industry and i’m sure each of you have experienced this to some degree

have had to do is actually incorporate a lot of those enhanced uh sort of safety protocols

um in in your companies in the in the uh working in the field um so michael and

cody maybe this one’s better oriented to you but um as far as those enhanced health and safety measures how how did students handle

that um coming into uh coming into placements for the first time i know um you know even even uh you know

long-standing employees would have had to adapt and change but for people entering for the first time you know what was what was feedback like

from students as they were as they were sort of going into this thank you thank you thank you thank you

it was generally the feedback that i got a lot of these students had started all

their classes had been put online or remotely and they were bored and didn’t like being in the

university towns that they were in uh and were more than happy to come back

to the yukon um and and do do an isolation period

uh so that they could come back and work part-time for solves and uh and par and finish their

schooling for the year as well uh and and we did that with a lot of staff too so

in general everybody was just feeling very fortunate uh that that all our work was available

and we didn’t have to lay anybody off in fact we we grew like a lot of a lot of people did um

so yeah the feedback was we’re certainly happy so you guys still have the doors open and everybody was really fired up

to work uh and of course like i said the the interaction with clients out here was

was fairly simple uh we we followed safety protocols and and offered a lot of options to clients you know we can

come do this when you’re not home or we can do this later you know back like last march or

april when we thought covered might end at some point uh we were like we could come do the inverter installs

later after code’s done luckily we didn’t nobody took us up on that offer

i think some of the most challenging stuff that since we mentioned remote work was uh well our residential and commercial

sales in the yukon grew considerably last year we lost a lot of uh out of territory work

um due to due to travel bans or travel restrictions uh but we were able to get into the

other two territories uh at different stages into the nwt and nunavut

um and then this is just more discussion on the trials of covet and and getting work

uh work isolation exemptions and then working through very uh stringent uh work plans and safety

policies with and these were students moving around again uh with their supervisors and the students

so that we could uh we could conform to the guidelines for each of those territories

so i mean in general um there was very little discomfort very early on last march there was some discomfort in the

office and we had to be cognizant of that and allow people to work from home if they chose to do so

and we had to sort of roll out that remote work policy relatively quickly and be more understanding with it

and then also when we had to put students into well say compromising positions

traveling and working out of territory and interacting with people that might not actually want them to be there

uh we had to make sure that the comfort level was correct with everyone and that the guidelines were fairly clear and in the end uh

uh from uh from a solvent perspective the the projects were turned out great in both the nwtn and of it last year

that’s awesome to hear michael um cody i saw you come off of uh off of mute there as well yeah uh

michael did a great job explaining and a lot of the um a lot of the experiences we had were similar as well so any of

our any of our co-op students that still had the ability to or or requirement to be on site uh to attend any of our assets

and and do their their work as appropriate uh we we have very strict health and safety policies um it’s very

important to us to you know the way that we’re doing things and we’re keeping everyone safe and comfortable uh so just having honest conversations

with these these students and and explaining you know why why we do things a certain way why are why are we drilling in these procedures

and these new policies so hard and and i and we didn’t get uh any pushback at all i think there’s

definitely a confidence in us that we’re doing our best to keep everyone safe uh and if there is uh times where

someone is feeling uncomfortable or requirement then we then we pivot and we find new ways or new work for that that co-op

student to kind of work on but overall i think uh as michael said they’re excited to get out of the house

and and go and you know do some hands-on work i think you raise a great point cody um

relating to something that we touched on earlier having honest conversations is so

important um you know whether that especially if if you’re in a virtual space having your

co-op have the ability or the confidence to be able to say hey i need to ask a quick question there’s

having that honesty and transparency there really creates that intellectual safety that

they feel comfortable asking anybody any question i really it kind of irks me when i hear oh this

might be a stupid question no it’s a question ask it and even related to that outside of the field

work when we think about co-op students especially a lot of them sometimes live alone or or live in a house that may not be

conducive to working they might have really noisy roommates for example

um at least on our side what we had to do is we actually rented a larger space so that we could

support people if they want it to work in the office and there was enough space to socially distance so we kind of

adapted this work for what’s best for you whether that’s home or you feel more productive

in the office that’s interesting i mean i really grew

as a manager during this experience as well um if you can believe it this will

probably come up maybe right towards the end here but all of us is also an exceptionally young company

i mean so when we talk about uh students interacting with staff they’re all the same age basically um

and at the tender age of 41 i’m the oldest person in the company i think the mean age is like 25 or 27 or

something uh which i’ve been told makes me uh grumpy and unapproachable

a lot of times but uh i’m working on that

but some of the things like uh people being uncomfortable with with covet and coming into a public

space or coming into an office and then developing a work uh remote work policy

i mean this was completely backwards for me um i i i sort of didn’t think that remote

work or work from home was something that should be happening um and if somebody’s got the if

somebody’s got the sniffles right you go to work right you’re not dying you don’t need to go to the hospital you go to work

whereas it’s completely the opposite now if you have the sniffles you are encouraged to stay home

so i really had to wrap my head around that and then embrace and encourage remote work and

work from home and the best thing to do is like janine said read the space and make it more approachable for them

like cody said it’s it’s open and frank discussions about their concerns and what their comfort level is

and for us we we really wanted to make the guidelines clear and just go through i mean having such

young staff work ethic and and things like that are our skills that they haven’t been

developing for a very long time so for what for us it was as simple as saying make sure you wake up at the same time

make sure you have a clean workspace you’re not working on the couch you’re out of um or at the kitchen table make sure the

kitchen table is clean shower change make sure you fed your

pets before you sit down at your computer and and if you can and we would encourage that and and there was programs in the

uconn the pivot programs and and the company offered a little bit of financial support we ended up purchasing

more laptops instead of instead of uh sorry tower computers

webcams for everyone and then encourage people to develop a nice office space at home uh and then

in august last year uh grumpy grumpy schultz went out and bought a house in in hayden’s junction

and now i work remotely more than anybody else and still give them crap when they are but whatever

you know i i appreciate your honesty on that one because i think i think

a lot of employers had to go through very similar um very similar things uh you know dealing with

the to your point the sniffles for example um you know having to pivot uh and i know we use that word a lot when we talk

about the pandemic but you know it basically pivot a mindset which is um that’s a tough thing to do for a lot of people um and so uh it’s

it’s great to hear the um the frankness of that discussion um cody i think you wanted to jump in on

that one too yeah just uh just to kind of add on there another

thing that we’ve noticed and observed kind of with our team is is finding uh making sure that everyone’s

scheduling in breaks uh to make sure these co-op students aren’t sitting in front of their computer and working 10 hour days without moving

um yeah we’re we’re definitely trying to encourage that and communicate that as

well because you know taking breaks you know resting your eyes getting up in stretch or take a walk it’s it’s only going to improve your your

work performance and we’re using this as an opportunity to kind of discuss that and and think about yourself in in a safe

way and and find separation between you know working from home uh and living from home yeah we’ve heard

that a lot too for uh for not just students but generally for employees working from home that separation between the home life and the

work life is uh has been a lot tougher for a lot of people as they as they’ve navigated this this reality

um so i just wanted to remind everybody all of our viewers out there that there is a q a box at the bottom so feel free to

post your questions in the q a box if you have anything for our panelists i will be more than happy to moderate

those and and bring them up for the group to discuss um

so the q a box or even the chat function either one i know we’ve already had one question so far um but in the meantime what we’re

thinking well well people are thinking about what they may want to ask you all um what advice so this is a question

we discussed before but what advice would you give to other employers who have reservations

about bringing on students i’ve heard some employers say that the short duration of co-ops and internships

mean that a student is just coming up to speed by the time the placement term is over so how would you respond to this based

on your own your own experience in in uh working with students and and uh in in either co-op or internship type

formats um gene you haven’t started this off on one for a while so and i know you’re

passionate about this one so why don’t we start with you i love co-ops i came up through a co-op

program myself and many of many of my managers that i worked with

at this time are still mentors of mine from a selfish point of

view as a as a co-op it’s a great opportunity to network and learn the ways of the world

and and learn what it is like to work in an enterprise as as far as reservations from a

manager point of view outside of the work that they do it’s so fresh

to get a new perspective on your company from an external point of view i think

that’s a huge value that new employees especially co-ops bring to the table that we often don’t take

advantage of so we’re extremely open about tell us what didn’t make sense during your

onboarding tell us what you thought about how we did this they are often whether it’s their first or second co-op

if they’re second third and fourth co-ops they have feedback and learnings to bring from other organizations they have

an outside perspective that you really need to be taken advantage of outside of that if there’s something

that they can um i kind of i kind of say that onboarding someone’s

a little bit of extra work before there’s a little bit of relief so you do some work to prepare for them

but you know someone had to teach us the things that we learned and we have to be able to pass that on

especially from i’ll be a little bit biased from a female’s perspective especially in an in

an energy industry that’s dominated by by men in particular we really have to make

sure that we’re we’re giving the up and comers the time to learn so

even from that intrinsic point of view to know that you’ve had an impact on someone’s life i think it’s extremely valuable and

something that word of mouth from a branding perspective is great for your company too to know that they care

i think that’s a great response janine cody over to you yeah thanks janine and i’m just going to

kind of build off of that word of mouth uh you know at fortis we really want to focus on that long-term opportunity

uh you know this co-op term it may be four months or eight months or whatever it is but we take it as an opportunity to really

start to build a relationship with these new up-and-coming talents that are going to be eventually into our sector of

business and really what we want to see is at the end of the term we want that that student to you know

to feel like they can’t wait to graduate so they can come back to us and start their career and you know start working on meaningful stuff

and they take that experience and they go back to school and they’ll start to learn and digest new complicated information and they’re

using their experience from us as their frame of reference for learning and they’re starting to think about you

know how they can problem solve and improve our business over the next year or two until they graduate and then

they’re ready to you know find a long-term employer and uh at fortis i we we typically see about a

75 retention rate with our new hires but when we’re hiring in a past co-op student we see a 95

retention rate uh and and really around that if you’re thinking about bottom line uh the hiring costs we we range

somewhere between five and fifteen thousand dollars per vacancy that we fill but if we know that you know we have

experience with this co-op student this co-op student has experience with us it’s going to be a it’s probably going to be a good fit uh

if we do select them so we’re going to save future costs and find ourselves you know a long-term

employee who’s who’s got interest and feels like we’ve invested in them already and that we’re going to continue investing in

them so i i i agree with janine i can’t say enough great things about the co-op program it’s it’s something i feel very passionate

about as well and uh both of you have actually spoken to a couple of the questions that came in on

the q a so one of them was how do you approach retention after co-op placement so cody you’ve answered that really well like

your retention rates are uh are pretty incredibly high um so that’s uh that’s

awesome um and then you know at the end of a placement just to get to one of the other questions that came through

um you know do you do like an exit meeting with or whether it’s yourself or the manager

who’s in charge of the student do you do an exit meeting with the student to understand you know what went well what could have gone better

and then sort of take some of that maybe perhaps aggregated feedback back to the program and see how you may be able to

tweak things going forward yeah absolutely yeah we do an exit interview uh we get the feedback

honest we we try to get as much back that we can from this this student about their experience but we also at that point we want to

communicate you know this is my contact information as you’re going through if you have questions come up where you just want to chat you know you want to

take you know 30 minutes and get on the phone or on a video and and connect you know maintaining those relationships

moving forward that’s going to really assist us with retention rates and and re-higher rates as as they can move

through their program um cody’s raised a good point about the

retention rates um we kind of sometimes take a different approach in

a little bit we would love if people always came back for additional um co-ops as well as

full-time positions but we do encourage our first-time co-ops to go

and do other co-ops at other companies so that they’ve had that experience elsewhere and they know that they’re

picking us for the right reason um we’ve actually been fortunate funny enough story that we had

a sales co-op who was doing a commerce degree she she joined us for a four month

internship and then she is waiting to go to law school and of course energy highly regulated industry she’s

actually working for us in our regulatory affairs area for four months before she starts law school so

there’s even additional opportunity there nurturing them past the employment period though we do

and we do interact with them we send them our christmas cards we invite them to company events and we they’re really

just a part of our we don’t like to say family we like to say team but they are a part of the

empowered team michael do you want to take any last

comments before i wrap things up i’ve just noticed that we’re approaching the end of our time

and i’ve given cody and janine a lot of airtime but i just wanted to give you some some last minute thoughts as well no on

that last topic cody and janine were very thorough even i was inspired

uh i hadn’t considered the fact that uh uh i hadn’t thought about uh retention and

employees coming back and i just realized the one the one point that cody made is that yeah we

have returning students year after year that have spent like eight months away stewing about how they’re going to

improve a process or improve something that they worked on the previous year um and so yeah i didn’t have much to say

because in terms of a short-term placement i discussed that pretty much at length right right early on the webinar in terms of uh

setting goals and expectations and making sure that you that you uh help them see the whole picture but um

janine has touched on all the points of of company culture and keeping those students engaged

and and developing yourself as a mentor and cody touched on on that whole

retention thing which again is everybody loves working for solvus i think our retention is damn near 100

there’s not a single person that is there just because it’s a job and again it’s because we’re in a very unique position in a jurisdiction that’s

very renewable energy forward um but yeah the the students are great

they’ve got they’ve got ideas and and some of them a lot of them want to come back and do full-time work so

even while you’re not paying them they’re they’re applying uh they’re applying what they learned at

your company and they’re going to bring back they’re going to bring back more the next time i think that’s i think that’s well

stated michael um so i’m going to take this opportunity again to thank you all for for joining us today to

to speak about your own experiences working with with co-op students and and thank our viewers today for uh for

staying uh with us for this uh time um basically just to summarize some of our discussion

points so in the industry students can do a wide variety of things i mean it’s not just engineering technicians technology just

in the trades although those are obviously some of the the key occupant core occupations of the sector but business development

sales marketing um you know i t or ict there’s there’s a wide variety of

opportunities and you’ve touched on those a little bit um janine you brought up

employer brand and i think that’s an interesting one too and something that a lot of employers are increasingly starting to think of particularly

with um you know gen zed and and even millennials still um they they do their research they talk

to each other and so employers are thinking and spending a lot more time managing these experiences particularly

in this sector because at the end of the day students talk and not only do they talk to one

another now they talk virtually um on all sorts of different platforms i still have yet to figure out tick tock

myself but perhaps um so you know and and we also talked a

little bit about uh you know processes for knowledge management and and um uh and retention and and how do we how

do we do that and janine you gave some great examples of some very specific tools that uh that we um that you’ve employed in your own

organization and some of the practices both michael and cody that you’ve mentioned as well that you’ve employed in in the formal

and informal um onboarding of students as you bring them on

i think you’ve all mentioned having a dedicated and a manager who understands what

managing a co-op is about how important that is i think that is really important and it’s certainly

something that’s come out of our own research here at ehrc as well making sure that co-op students

understand the why i don’t know that we all spend enough time thinking about that you know why

you know why are we doing things a certain way and what is the bigger picture that they’re contributing to if

they’re just working on one small piece of it because as we’ve mentioned sometimes co-op terms are only four months or internships or

maybe a few months longer um and so they may only ever see that small piece of the puzzle so ensuring

that everybody’s on the same part page with regard to a project first of all but secondly even just the organizational vision

of where uh where they want to go because at the end of the day that’s really that’s where the uh the rubber hits the

road as to people’s reason for wanting to work um so we’ve talked a little bit about

some of the specific tools that uh that janine had mentioned earlier but um we also talked a little bit about the kovid the covet experience

and some of the things like the that have had to change as a as a result particularly with field work

i was interested to hear michael your your specific comments of you know thank you thank you thank you for for allowing us to go back into the

field i mean that that is something that we’ve heard as well from uh from others um that you know being able

to work hands-on again was was really important for a lot of people and i know even in speaking to a lot of colleagues that are

working virtually um it’s nice to get back to the office uh even with masks on and with hand

sanitizer everywhere and the whole nine yards you know it’s it’s uh humans are social

beings and it’s just so important for us to be able to connect having honest conversations about you

know what type of ppe is in place and how important safety is to our industry and to our corporate

cultures and that sort of thing that came across loud and clear in our discussions today

and you know trying to manage that balance between home and work particularly in a virtual environment and and even

you know employers having to do things perhaps that they may traditionally not have had to do like advise people to shower

or take that break every every so often from from the workplace so interesting to

hear some of those stories as well and then lastly of course you know the

opportunity for retention of students over the long term the ability i mean when in our lives do

we have an opportunity to work for a few months and then go back and think about that work and then come back again

and do it again you know do a better job even better job later on um you know after a series of months

have passed and additional learnings in a university college program so i mean

i michael i think i’m going to give you the the final word on this one when you said students are great

i absolutely agree i think all of the panelists here on the call would agree and i hope that a number of our participants at today’s

discussion would agree too so again thank you all for joining us today for this discussion on

how to get the most out of your co-op student i think um it’s been awesome hearing from each of you and your own perspectives and experiences so

thanks so much on behalf of ehrc and all of our participants today