Sciences co-op has bumper year

Jul 11, 2002, vol. 24, no. 6
By Diane Luckow

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SFU fullback and third-year molecular biology and biochemistry student Jonathan McCarthy (left) is sequencing salmon genomes in science dean Willie Davidson's lab during his co-op work term.

Until football practice begins again in late August, SFU fullback Jonathan McCarthy will spend his days sequencing salmon genomes in science dean Willie Davidson's lab.

The third year molecular biology and biochemistry student is one of 33 co-op students hired for summer work terms by the science faculty.

That's approximately one-third more co-op science jobs than last summer, according to Marcia Fetterly, a biotechnology coordinator with the science and environment co-op program.

Many of the positions were in the biotech and environmental science areas. “In most cases, the summer is the best time for faculties to hire because they have summer career placement money - provincial funding that is available to employers to hire students,” says Fetterly. “Some of them also use their academic NSERC money.”

In all, 211 science and environmental studies students were placed in summer co-op work terms, one of the best years ever. “That's a very good placement total when you consider that two or three of our largest employers aren't hiring - such as the ministry of forests and the ministry of the environment,” says Fetterly.

She found that companies in the biotech industry have picked up the slack. In fact, co-op coordinators ran out of biotech and chemistry students to fill the summer job demand from these sectors. “That's the area that's booming right now,” she says.

Overall, summer co-op work placements more or less held steady with last year, says co-op director Nancy Johnston, with the exception of computing science and business, where student placements declined.

As well, 19 former Technical University of British Columbia students found co-op placements which, says Johnston, “is amazing, since they came late in the job search and with minimal existing postings.” She credits much of this success to Navinder Chima, a former Technical University of British Columbia co-op manager who is now on the SFU co-op team.

“He performed with unwavering professionalism in the face of a lot of student anxiety and concern about his own and his staff's fate,” she says.

Johnston expects that co-op job placements this fall will pick up, based on early indicators and employer interest. She anticipates as many as 860 students, 100 of them from SFU Surrey, will be searching for a fall co-op work term.

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