Canadian universities - Is waterloo that good?

I am a 4th year at Ivey in Canada which is a top target here. Most of my friends got great internships in IB at BBs and Big 5, and same with my friends at Queens. Today I was bored and went on LinkedIn and was blown away by some of the internships from Waterloo and mostly the accounting program. Here were some of the profiles I saw and internships I saw:

Person 1: Deloitte, RBC IB, BMO IB, Altas PE, Evercore SA and Evercore FT

Person 2: PWC, PWC, CIBC IB, BMO IB, Lazard IB, PJT SA and PJT FT

Person 3: Deutsche Bank S&T, CPPIB, Qatalyst SA and Qatalyst FT

Person 5: PWC, PWC, Goldman Sachs IB, Goldman Sachs IB, Goldman Sachs FT

Person 4: PWC, Goldman Sachs IB, Goldman Sachs IB, OTPP and Goldman Sachs FT

Person 5: EY, CIBC IB, Goldman Sachs IB, Polar AM, BCG and is graduating this year

How are these people at Waterloo getting such crazy internships while in school? Most ivey and queens kids only do one IB internship but some of these guys do up to 4 whole terms. Is coop that good?

Would really appreciate any insight 

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Comments (43)

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Feb 19, 2021 - 2:36am

They have co-op programs that make it so a spot is guaranteed at all these firms for a Waterloo kid + they don't have school during the internships * it's off cycle so less competition

Feb 19, 2021 - 3:01am

Co-op at Waterloo gives you access to top Canadian firms but EB/BB/Megafund PE namely through their own efforts as they don't actually get these postings on their portal.

To your point on doing the 4 co-op terms, it's definitely a plus if you want to try different roles. Main differentiation between Waterloo vs Ivey is that once an Ivey student gets a role at a boutique they're able to leverage that to NY with the OCR, status as a target program etc. At Waterloo, much more common to see that student go from boutique -> big 5 and cap off there.

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Feb 19, 2021 - 5:52pm

I'm assuming you mean how job postings work - we have our own internal system called WaterlooWorks (used to be called Jobmine) - the school spends time and money each year building connections with employers so they know that there's a ton of talent here - which is why they return every term/ every year to hire. A student does NOT need to apply for a job in their faculty only - meaning that the game is open to anyone. However, some jobs are restricted and they will prefer/ mandate that students are from certain programs only in the job description. If that's not the case, then anyone is fair game for the job. However, keep in mind that you're competing against many people with a ton of finance/ banking experience so you will struggle significantly as a CS student for an IB job. The competitiveness of each job varies - IB jobs will have close to 100 people applying per each individual hire (e.g. 1 position opening), and big tech will have the same ratio, or worse oftentimes. Therefore, it's still a competitive process regardless. I would recommend picking one or the other because you will not have time to do banking prep and tech prep at the same time on top of job search and a full course load in just over 3 months for the term - it's next to impossible. 

Most Helpful
Feb 19, 2021 - 1:13pm

I'm from Waterloo SAF and I can help with your question: 

For some context, SAF currently has four programs with some quick descriptions, as follows: 

Arts faculty - AFM (~300-400 people, 4 coops + first year summer off): Easy in first year, gets hard second year onwards all the way to Masters of Accounting (MAcc), most kids do some form of accounting/ industry finance, but more and more are doing IB and exploring other routes (see below). Typical jobs include public accounting such as Big 4, industry IT, finance and accounting at the Big 5 Canadian banks, government jobs in Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and business roles in pretty much every industry you can think of. Most people go all the way to MAcc (accredited program that allows you to skip the capstones and go straight to the CFE, you pass and you're done the theory part of your CPA in Canada. Do a total 30 months (including coop experiences) in approved accounting/ finance roles and you get your full CPA. It's one of the fastest routes to get your CPA and MAcc student CFE pass rate is rumored to be close to 90% vs the national average of 75% (per CPA Canada) including that 90% from UWaterloo. (This can be verified by just talking with friends from the MAcc program, close to everyone passed.)

Arts/ Math faculty - CFM (~50-60 people, 5-6 coops): the computer science/ finance hybrid, strong program and depending on the electives you take can be pretty chill or wicked hard (CS electives can be pretty crazy, especially like CS 341 and CS 350, algos and OS). People usually specialize in one over the other even though many have internship experience in finance and tech, although not evenly as they decide fairly early to specialize and just go for either only tech or only finance coops. Most people I know chose tech and FAAGs (Netflix is not big here) full time is pretty normal if you put in the work. Some people went into finance jobs but few into IB/ PE/ HF compared to tech. 

Math faculty - Math/CPA (~50-60 people, 4 coops + first year summer off): the math/ AFM hybrid, you're fixed in terms of course load. There are some electives but not much flexibility. Very hard program in terms of course load because all your electives must be math courses and even the birds are not that bird. Most people go into CPA route for public accounting but some to IB and others. 

Science faculty - Biotech/CPA (~15 people, 4 coops + first year summer off): the science/ AFM hybrid, you're fixed in terms of course load. There are some electives but not much flexibility. Very hard program in terms of course load because all your electives must be science courses and even the birds are not that bird (I think, as there are very few people in this program I'm not sure whether this is fully correct but it should be close). Most people go into CPA route for public accounting but some to finance or others. 

Most people switch out of Math/CPA and Biotech/CPA in first year because the program is just not right for them/ big learning curve due to the sheer difficulty. Fewer people switch out from AFM and CFM and all four programs solidify after second year. Switching out of programs is complex because you can usually only switch to the same faculty and the process is just annoying. 

Now to answer your question: 

"How are these people at Waterloo getting such crazy internships while in school? Most ivey and queens kids only do one IB internship but some of these guys do up to 4 whole terms. Is coop that good?" 

Short answer - Yes, you know that quote "cash is king?" - well "coop is king" is pretty accurate too. Of course, usually only the best students get to IB, as they still look for strong grades and stuff, but sometimes it's also about smart planning for your career. Most people who get into IB have one similarity, they're in the following clubs or they have significant case competition experience under their belt and have at least got to a top 4 finalist spot. 

Student investment fund (SIF): stock pitch on companies and real investments using grant money - this is an additional course on your normal course load, and you will need to have good grades and do well on your interview with the profs JUST to get into this course (it's not even a job). This is a very demanding course but basically teaches you most of what you do in IB

Student venture fund (SVF): pitches for VCs in the KW-Toronto corridor and others, cousin to SIF but for people more interested in startups/ VCs instead of public companies. 

Other case competitions include the Investment research challenge (IRC) - stock pitch where industry professionals come and judge, and various CFA challenges ... etc. 

Management consulting club (UWMCC): newer club but growing fast, for people who are interested in management consulting - brings in alumni who are usually from Big 4 consulting, BCG, Oliver Wyman, and sometimes Bain and others to talk about their consulting experience. I won't be surprised if McKinsey becomes a more frequent employer later on as well. Hosts case competitions and have strong relationships with industry people. 

If you do your courses + these ECs + coop - it would make you so much stronger compared to most competition. Since coop provides you work experience early on, you will also have your network and references that you can rely on. Many people sometimes use Big 4 as a springboard to boost their resume for their first coop and then transfer to finance roles starting second coops (it happens, it's fine).

The trick is, even if you can't find a second coop in IB/ high finance/ consulting, you can still continue to do ECs, case comps, while you network and talk to people and find opportunities for your third and fourth coops, which puts you waaay ahead of the second and third year students when you're a year older with that much more experience. In addition, alumni are usually happy to help out younger students and this creates a super positive feedback loop. This isn't just for IB or finance roles either, it's also for tech, consulting, business, and pretty much every other role you can think of.

That's why co-op is so strong and why so many students want to go to UWaterloo for CS these days. If you put in the work with leetcode, multiple interview rounds, getting a job at FAAGs is very competitive but also very possible since after all that prep and grilling you'd have an insane amount of experience. Most students here also work pretty damn hard and are grinders. I believe tenacity is probably the single most important thing that determines success, and people have a ton of it here. That is not to say there aren't issues either with class enrollment sizes and grad inflation from high school, but that's how the free market works with supply and demand. People also get depression a lot here and every smart person I know has gotten wrecked at least once in terms of academics or interviews or otherwise. People also take time off because of the stress sometimes and that's okay. You have to just try and see what's best for your own specific needs and do the best you can. Hope this giant rant is useful. 

May 27, 2021 - 3:23am

Hey, seems like you're pretty knowledgeable about the finance/business scene at UW -- how would you say someone in engineering (mech) would do if they're aiming for consulting? From what I've heard, if you do something like UWMCC and try to land some big-name (F500?) co-ops you have a decent chance at an interview in the later co-ops, but at the same time, most people I see going for consulting/IB are all SAF students.

  • Intern in VC
Feb 19, 2021 - 6:57pm

I'm a first year at waterloo and I've been networking a lot and I'm pre sure I know like 3 of the people you listed haha. It's a small world man.

Feb 20, 2021 - 2:04pm

Off-cycle co-op placements are huge. Their competition for fall/winter is basically nil. Even if some of these positions at GS, Evercore, etc. are classic summer positions (where competition is obviously high), getting the chance to rack up top quality internships via fall/winter co-ops is huge in boosting resumes and helping ensure they get interviews. And once you get an interview, it's all just a matter of nailing the technicals, fit, etc.

When you have such a good deal in place with co-op, it attracts really driven people. Waterloo gets a lot of students in general who are laser focused on their careers (whether that be tech, finance, etc.)

  • Analyst 1 in PE - LBOs
Feb 20, 2021 - 4:16pm

Evercore's summer class last year had I think 8 ivey kids, 5/6 queens kids, 1 u of t and 0 Waterloo...

Obviously, placement could vary by firm. Ivey / Queens are considered as better as there are a high number of "good" placements. Also Ivey gets you access to some PE roles (SLP, Ares, etc)

  • Analyst 1 in PE - LBOs
May 6, 2021 - 7:45pm

Nice try sir. Talked to many waterloo kids at Canadian banks. They said globals in Toronto won't even interview them because they are not from Ivey / Queens. 

Feb 21, 2021 - 12:30am

It's incomparable. Ivey and queens are god tier from the Canadian school perspective. As for the schools in the top 6, the "prestige" is more or less the same to employers. No real differentiation whether you're recruiting for Bay Street or Wall Street. I'd personally go to Waterloo as it's easier to land the same positions at top Canadian firms, and therefore easier to leverage abroad.

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Feb 21, 2021 - 3:33pm

Agreed. Queens and Ivey by far have the best job opportunities when it comes to jobs in PE/IB.

I think this post does have a bit of survivorship bias here; for sure the coop placements are phenomenal at Waterloo, but these are also the very few people across several years that got these jobs. On an aggregate, these were probably the top 0.5% of the class gunning for finance.

There are way more and better opportunities in finance at Ivey/Queen's and you don't need to be the top 5 kids in your class to get a finance job when both of these schools each send 50+ people into finance a year.

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