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November 23, 2000 Co-op student with perfect GPA wins Quebec award



John Fiset and Marie-Andrée Boucher at the award presentation

Marie-Andrée Boucher has been awarded the Gilles-Joncas Bursary for being the best university co-op student in Quebec.

Boucher is in her last academic term in Actuarial Mathematics, and has had a brilliant academic career. An early winner of scholarships going back to her high-school days, she won several scholarships at Concordia, and has put in four work terms while earning a perfect 4.3 grade-point average.

She is halfway through writing the nine gruelling exams set by the professional actuarial society, in which she has also excelled.

Her first two work terms were with Ernst and Young in Toronto, where she perfected her English, and she subsequently worked at Standard Life and Axa Insurance here in Montreal. She is finishing her studies this term, and begins her career with Ernst and Young in Montreal in January.

The $500 award was presented at a professional development session held on October 26 in Trois-Rivières and is given by the Association canadienne de l’enseignement coopératif (ACDEQ-Québec). It is named for Gilles Joncas, who was the pioneer of co-op programs at the Université de Sherbrooke, and helped Concordia’s program get off the ground.

Boucher’s name was proposed for the competition by the Actuarial Mathematics co-op coordinator at the time, Brigitte St-Laurent-Taddeo, who is now at McGill, and she was proudly introduced by John Fiset, retired but still active as vice-principal emeritus of Concordia’s Co-op Institute.

Co-op Institute offers elite program

Concordia’s Institute for Co-operative Education offers work-study programs in the following departments: Chemistry/Biochemistry, Economics, Études françaises (Translation), Mathematics and Statistics, Physics, Accounting, Finance, Management Information Systems, Marketing, Human Resource Management, Building/Civil/Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and Software Engineering.

There are about 700 students in co-op programs at the moment, but vice-principal Craig Brown believes that by the end of 2001 that number will have grown to 1,000, or as Brown puts it, “between 10 and 12 per cent of our full-time equivalent enrolment.” In addition, co-op is going online in the next year or so, with listings of placements and applications that can be done electronically.

“We’re very flexible, but we do not have an open-door policy,” Brown said firmly. This is a selective program, and only the best and most motivated students need apply.

Students may work in the summer, the winter, or the fall term, depending on their program. Right now, the Co-op is abuzz with placement interviews for the work term that begins in January.

These interviews work both ways. The potential employers rate the students and vice versa. The students may have to fit seven or eight interviews into their busy class schedules over this period.

The result is what Brown calls “the matrix,” and the all-important fit between applicant and employer is managed by a co-ordinator.

Members and graduates of the Co-op Institute celebrated their 20th anniversary at Homecoming this fall. The reception drew about 150 people, who had fun reminiscing, and describing how their careers had developed.

Co-op Institute provides a tool for safety

Every year, Environmental Health and Safety is approached by Concordia’s Co-op Institute to see if they’d like an intern. The unit has played host to students from Management Information Systems, Communication Studies and other disciplines.

This year, they were offered a Marketing Co-op student — just when they needed one. The Central Advisory Health and Safety Committee had recommended publishing a brochure to make employees aware of the services available to them. “It fit very well,” said Assistant Administrator Donna Fasciano, who coordinates training for EHS.

For Marc Purdon, it was his first summer work term, and came after a year of Marketing studies. He said, “I learned a lot — how to manage a project, how to work in an office environment, and how to take responsibility and initiative.”

The brochure is called Take Care, and it will be launched next week. It describes three university departments, Facilities Management, Environmental Health and Safety, and Security, and gives typical situations in which each can be of assistance. Employees are invited to obtain a checklist to evaluate their own work environment.

Now Marc is thinking about his next co-op experience, to start in January. “I’ve applied for nine or 10 jobs,” he said, “and so far, I’ve had two interviews.”