“Actually, it’s not a co-op. It’s an eight-month residency position…”
As a newly hired residency student, I ended up making the distinction between co-op and residency positions a lot. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing: one could even argue that the minor correction was an incredibly useful icebreaker. I got a chance to explain my role and responsibilities, my areas of expertise, and the uniqueness of Dal’s MBA Corporate Residency program.
So, what are some differences between a co-op and a residency? I’m so glad you asked!
First and foremost is the length. Most co-op programs last an average of 3 months, providing students with a short glimpse at the company’s inner workings. Dal’s corporate residency is an 8-month experience, which allows MBA students to dive deeper into their roles.
In the course of my 8-month marketing position as a Digital Business Analyst at Panasonic Canada Inc. in Mississauga, Ontario, I had the opportunity to take a project from conception to execution. Shorter co-ops might allow students to work on numerous projects in various stages of development; however, the experience of following a single project through every stage gave me a unique insight. I can now better understand how much effort, time, and resources are needed to prepare a marketing campaign from start to finish.
This doesn’t mean I only worked on a single project, though. I still received the full experience of dipping into numerous other campaigns throughout the residency.
Employers have higher expectations for the performance and productivity of residency students. As a student of the MBA Corporate Residency program, I was not there to simply fetch coffees and take notes. (In fact, the only coffee I ever fetched was my own.)
Instead, I was expected to analyze situations, deliver insights, and produce truly valuable work. By the end of the residency, I was managing plenty of projects and responsibilities in my own right.
You can never have too many networking opportunities, especially as an MBA student. Residencies offer plenty of these opportunities, whether this involves building relationships with the company’s higher-ups or collaborating on projects with teams from other organizations or even hobnobbing at fancy business events.
Just being at the company for a full eight months exposed me to many more of these opportunities. It also provided me the time to fully break out of my introvert-shell to build meaningful relationships with company mentors and peers. While I would have still met many of these people during a shorter co-op, the longer period of time deepened these relationships.
Goals and Evaluations
The corporate residency was supported by a number of unique features to help guide students’ learning experiences over the eight months. A goal setting exercise at the start of the residency really aided me in making the most of my residency; entering the work situation with these goals in mind helped me to tackle known weak areas and build upon strengths in a more strategic manner.
Two evaluations also provided useful feedback from my bosses and coworkers. The Midterm Evaluation by my boss provided useful information on my performance, allowing me to adjust work habits as needed for the final four months. A 360 Performance Evaluation by both bosses and coworkers took place at the end of the residency, and provided further insights that I can continue to build upon during the remainder of my degree.
These are just four key differences between co-op and residency positions. To learn more about the Corporate Residency experience, visit:
- The Corporate Residency (dal.ca)
- Corporate Residencies: An International Experience (Blog Post, January 2017)
- Landing the Job: Management Career Services (Blog Post, February 2017)
Meagan Bell is a member of Dal’s MBA Class of 2018, where she focuses on creative marketing and strategy. Meagan’s academic passions served her well during her corporate residency at Panasonic Canada Inc. this summer, where she worked on various digital marketing projects.