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The Ultimate UNSW Co-Op Scholarship Guide

Tuesday 26th, January 2021

Giuliana De Bellis

Hi! I’m a first-year Computer Science Co-op from UNSW. I tutor HSC Economics with Tutesmart, by ATAR Notes.

What is the UNSW Co-op Scholarship?

The UNSW Scholarship Office describes the Co-op program as “a career development scholarship that develops our scholars into professionals, not just graduates at the end of their university degree.” The scholarship incorporates financial support ($19, 600 p.a.) with industry experience and professional development. Therefore, the scholarship is highly competitive and offers 100% graduate recruitment rate. Scholarships are offered in the Business, Engineering and Science schools – more info can be found here!

While Co-op is an amazing opportunity, it is a big commitment. While in the program, you need to maintain a minimum credit average, and dedicate time for both the program itself and your industry placements. Therefore, you must be confident in the degree you are enrolling in, your passion in the field of study.

What does the application process look like?

Making sure you’re the right candidate

I recommend attending the Co-op information evening. Not only will this give you a better idea about the program itself, but you will meet a few of the program organisers, students and alumni and be able to ask questions before applying. It is also a great networking opportunity (I kept in touch with an alumni, who organised work at Westpac for me!).

The Co-op scholarship is NOT a solely academic scholarship! In fact, apart from the 96 minimum ATAR requirement, interviewers are interested in your:

  • Extra-curricular activities

  • Volunteer and community work

  • Paid work (can be unrelated to your field of study, e.g. retail)

  • Sports/team involvement

  • Projects

Keep in mind this is not a definitive list! You may have none/some/all of these examples – but those that are successful in obtaining a scholarship generally have a unique combination of the above.

Online application

The online application consists of a variety of short answer questions about:

  • Program preferences (and why you value the program)

  • Co-curriculars, and learnings from these

  • Personal development

  • Leadership and teamwork

  • Decision making and problem solving

  • Significant achievements or projects

  • Post-graduate plans

  • Unique personal qualities

From these questions, and information advertised it is clear successful scholars are those that demonstrate passion, ambition, leadership, resilience, responsibility and commitment.

Tips for writing your online application

  1. Have concrete, relevant examples: you must prove you possess the above qualities, and provide examples where you have actively demonstrated this.

  2. STAR technique: if you’re stuck on how to format your response, use a method like STAR (Situation, task, action, result) to answer clearly. See this for more info. 

  3. What makes you unique: focus on how your unique experiences have shaped you, and what you can bring to the program that others may not be able to e.g. if you coach/teach sports you might be able to mentor future Co-ops.

  4. Write a draft application in Word or Google Docs: do not use the online portal to write your responses in initially – there’s no spell checker and it can be very frustrating if you lose your responses before saving. 

  5. Ask family, friends or a tutor to look over your application: anyone with interview experience (Co-op or not) can help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your application.

  6. Check spelling, grammar and character count: keep your application as professional as possible! Keep in mind the application has a character count, not word count, so keep checking this as you write.

Video snapshot (NEW)

In 2020, a video snapshot component was added to the application process. You are given 2 minutes to introduce yourself and talk about “something interesting, unusual, unique or different about you to expand on your written application.” 

Tips for the video snapshot

  • Watch sample snapshots: Available on the Co-op Youtube channel, it gave me ideas of some things I could talk about, and how to introduce myself appropriately.

  • Keep calm: there’s no new questions asked, the purpose of the snapshot is just to get a feel for your personality before interviews. Give a fun fact about yourself, or build on something you didn’t get to explain fully in your written application – the content is less important than your personality.

  • Body language: having your arms uncrossed, sitting upward, looking into the camera and  positioning it appropriately, and (most importantly) smiling are just a few things you can do to present yourself in a positive manner. 

  • Multiple recordings: you get a practice video + 3 chances to film the snapshot, so if you’re unhappy with how you spoke, you can re-record. I’d recommend practicing in front of a mirror first to plan how you will present yourself.

  • Plan: have a brief plan of what you want to include in your snapshot on paper/in your mind so you don’t forget anything and feel more confident.


Congratulations if you make it to this stage!

Interview briefing day

 I highly recommend attending the briefing day, if possible, for the following reasons:

  • You will be given great tips for how to present yourself in the interview, and be given the opportunity to ask any questions

  • You will be notified of the sponsor companies for your program (they change from year to year) – note these down! In the interview, the panel will consist of one university staff member and one representative from a sponsor company, so its important you know who this is for the interview the next day. 

  • It will help you become more comfortable – foreign environments are hard to relax in, and being late for your interview is a big no! If you can find your interview room the day before, you won’t get lost, or be late!

Tips for preparing for interviews

  1. Be authentic: make your passion and intent clear, don’t leave room for any gaps – your interviewer will have your application in front of them, so it’s important you remember what you wrote! Have a read over your draft beforehand  if you’ve forgotten.

  2. Speak slowly: this will give you more time to think, and will help you remain calm. Show that you’re confident.

  3. Prepare questions to ask them (preferably to the sponsor company): ask about them, their job, anything that interests you about the company. Make this a natural conversation, not an interrogation.

  4. Weakness/failure questions: you can admit to certain experiences where you’ve failed, or weaknesses you have, but try to show you made steps to resolve the issue. This will show you’re resilient!

  5. Types of questions: you will be asked a variety of questions that assess your thought process, behaviour and personality. These vary depending on who interviews you.  Here’s a few examples of common questions:

    • Tell me about yourself

    • Why are you interested in this degree, and the Co-op program?

    • [experience/extracurricular from application] – tell me more, what did you learn?

    • Tell me about a time you failed/faced conflict? What did you do to resolve this?

    • What are your hobbies?

  6. Plan: think about your responses to commonly asked questions and have a couple ideas planned of what you could mention, if those questions were asked (e.g. write down a couple dot points – don’t plan entire responses!)

  7. Practice: film yourself and watch it back – this will help you spot things you can improve on, like smiling more or using certain filler words repetitively. Alternatively, have family, friends or tutors give you mock interviews and give you feedback. 

General tips

  • Give the application a go even if you don’t think you’ll meet the ATAR requirements – you never know what might happen! 

  • Keep an eye on the co-op website for a key events timeline – you don’t want to miss submission dates!

  • Got more questions? Check this FAQ

Good luck in your application process!

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