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When Jeff Dean came to Perth, Ontario, to visit his grandfather for a weekend, he wasn't expecting to run into a fabulous career opportunity. Jeff, currently a third-year geography student, had an interest in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). When he heard that Jim Peden, a local high school teacher, had an similar interest, Jeff looked up his phone number and called him. They met for only a few hours, but Jeff was hooked.
A few months later, when Jim called him and offered a co-op position with his new company, the Centre for Geographic Information Systems (CGIS), Jeff agreed.
CGIS, based in Perth, is a firm that creates digital base maps and related databases for clients in both the public and private sector. These maps and databases are the basis of GIS.
Jeff's first work term with CGIS was excellent. Since there were no predefined job descriptions or roles, Jeff's responsibilities were varied and challenging. He worked in AutoCAD, trained and supervised a staff of four co-op students, and created an assignment for a Grade 11 class at the local high school. Further, he wrote the CGIS user manual and prepared and delivered several presentations on the benefits of GIS to stakeholders.
For his next work term, Jeff decided to return to CGIS as a project manager. He began delegating his previous duties, and became an active participant in meetings and the business side of CGIS. His value to CGIS had grown, and when he realized his dynamic role within the expanding company, he decided to remain there for a third work term. Jim Peden, in his evaluation of Jeff, writes "[Jeff's] task orientation, contribution to team problem solving and his limitless energy re-emphasized both the necessity and the true value of co-op learning at the university level."
Now a full-time employee at CGIS, Jeff is completing his Bachelor of Environmental Studies through distance education. He credits UW co-op for providing him with a career opportunity in his field of choice, and for allowing him to graduate debt free. It's a great example of the UW co-op solution at work: a student and an employer, both more than satisfied.
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