Community program

Co-op for Community Program Gives Waterloo Students Opportunity to Help Not-for-Profit Sector | Waterloo News

Megan Logan was thrilled when she got a co-op work placement with United Way Waterloo Region Communities, an area she now calls home.

The sophomore arts and business student from Burlington wanted to find a first co-op work placement where she could get to know the area she lives and studies in and feel like she’s doing work that matters. She found this opportunity through the University of Waterloo’s Co-op for Community program.

Co-op for Community is a unique partnership between United Way Waterloo Region Communities and the University. The donor-funded program creates meaningful co-op jobs for Waterloo students of all disciplines to work in local United Way-affiliated nonprofits in need of talent. Donations to the program go directly to support Waterloo Co-op students.

The goal is to eventually expand the program to other major cities in Canada.

“The next generation of talent wants to see their contributions impact their organization in a meaningful way. Co-op for Community offers students the opportunity to harness their skills and energy and apply them in a way where they can see real impact,” says Norah McRae, vice-president, cooperative and experiential education. “Whatever a student’s career path, having the opportunity to work in a non-profit organization can be life-changing and help develop key skills for the world of work.

Jusleen Dhaliwal and Megan Logan were among five students who recently completed United Way co-op placements through the Coop for Community program.

A stepping stone to full-time careers

Logan and Jusleen Dhaliwal, a second-year arts student, were among five students who recently completed United Way co-op placements through the Coop for Community program.

“I thought it was the perfect opportunity to learn more about local issues, but also to be part of the process of helping individuals in our community, especially with the pandemic and everything going on,” says Logan.

“It’s a program that benefits so many different people. For students, it helps us seize opportunities and it’s a stepping stone to our full-time careers,” says Dhaliwal. “I know it helps organizations, and people who work with me have said they appreciate what I do. It helps them to have a fresh look at the students. Then, in turn, this helps the community as a whole.

Since the launch of the Coop for Community program in the winter of 2021, it has funded the employment of more than a dozen students.

Support a good cause

In her role as Project Coordinator at United Way, Logan uses social media to help promote donations to the organization. She also helps write emails and newsletters United Way sends to donors.

When you donate to the Co-op for Community program, you support students like me and give us the opportunity to learn skills, learn about the nonprofit sector, and help others.

MEGANE LOGANWork-study student in arts and commerce

In addition to learning about the Waterloo community, Logan believes working in the non-profit sector has helped her learn more about common social issues.

The Coop for Community program also offers students the unique opportunity to work in several non-profit organizations during the same internship.

As this is her first work term, Logan is enjoying the benefits she has gained at the United Way while contributing to one of the organizations he funds, Interfaith Counseling Center (ICC).

ICC helps match people in need with licensed professional counselors and therapists. In his role, Logan assists ICC with marketing and branding to create flyers, presentations and brochures. She has learned a lot from the experience of contributing to a small charitable organization and looks for opportunities to apply the principles she learns in her psychology classes to practical work situations.

“I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give back because I’m the type of person who always enjoys helping others,” Logan says.

Motivated by rewarding work experiences

When Dhaliwal landed her first internship position with United Way Waterloo Region Communities, she felt a purpose and drive to do her best to help others. “I just feel like I did something that really helps people,” she says. “It’s really a mix of opportunity and having that mental boost.”

Like Logan, Dhaliwal is a project coordinator for United Way, but works on the community investment team primarily focused on grant applications. Dhaliwal reviews requests for completeness and overall quality and makes recommendations.

Working for a non-profit organization is so rewarding because every day I wake up and remember that what I’m doing is helping the community. It is rewarding for the student, the organization and the community.

JUSLEEN DHALIWALart co-op student

Through her role with the United Way, Dhaliwal also works with the Canadian Association of Arab Women (CAWA), a non-profit organization that works to connect, support and empower Arab women in Waterloo Region and Guelph. In her role at ACLA, Dhaliwal supports market research to help determine community needs. This opportunity allowed her to apply the research skills she learned in her sociology classes to a real-life research initiative.

“The goal is to give back,” she says. “Every day I think about how my work helps the community and what the main purpose of my work is. I feel like this combination of soft skills really helped me. , and I know I can apply it to any job.