CEWIL Resource Hub: Work Experience at the University of Waterloo

Key success factors

  • EDGE is a self-guided program, which means students are in control of their participation. They choose when and how to engage with the certificate, giving them a sense of agency and allowing for a remarkable degree of customization depending on their needs.
  • EDGE has been received positively by partners from faculties and academic support units across campus. Colleagues from across the university are willing to encourage students in non-co-op programs to consider EDGE, and employees in student-facing positions (e.g. academic advisors) are some of the most powerful drivers of EDGE registration.
  • EDGE has a robust online presence, including a program website, LEARN community, and online registration forms. This wealth of information and level of accessibility makes it easy for students to learn about the certificate and lowers the barrier to entry for students who are interested in participating.

Unique characteristics

  • EDGE acknowledges a wide variety of workplace experiences across multiple forms of WIL. Students can complete the certificate by engaging in multiple forms of WIL across academic and co-curricular contexts depending on their needs. This allows students to create a path through EDGE that recognizes their unique professional journey.
  • EDGE is designed to support students' existing experiences. Instead of prescribing certain experiences, EDGE gives students the framework they need to turn any work experience into quality WIL. Students can take experiences that satisfy their interests and values and amplify their benefits with reflection, evaluation, and professional development.


  • EDGE is a novel WIL program, which means there are often questions about how it compares to traditional WIL programs and how to navigate its milestones. It can be difficult to explain how it works to students and other stakeholders given its flexibility and novelty. Students sometimes struggle to understand how to work through the certificate, even when they're engaged in activities that lend themselves easily to earning milestones.
  • Because EDGE encompasses so many types of experiences, staff and participants have had to educate themselves quickly on the nuances and regulations associated with all of the potential activities students can complete within the certificate. The certificate has also enjoyed rapid uptake among the student body and has generated excitement across campus, with practitioners from a wide variety of faculties and departments interested in collaboration. This means that staff have had to prepare for a wide spectrum of possibilities given the variability in the program's future.


Key characteristics

  • Type: Work experience
  • Year program was established: 2017
  • Number of students per year: 600
  • Number of employers/partners per year: 100+
  • Programs/academic disciplines participating: All programs, excluding those that are co-op-only (e.g. Engineering programs, Planning)
  • Duration of experience: 18+/36+ hours over 18 weeks (academic courses/co-curricular experiences)
  • Submitted by: Ben McDonald