Best Practices for a Successful Co-op Program

  • Provide diversified work assignments of increasing difficulty and responsibility as the work terms and co-op’s ability progress. Work assignments should mesh with both a student’s major and company goals. The student’s supervisor should schedule time at the beginning of each work term to discuss his or her goals and objectives for that work term and to assist the student with completion of the Goals and Learning Objectives.
  • Appoint a qualified employer coordinator who understands and supports the philosophy of cooperative education. The coordinator should be skilled in human relations, have a thorough knowledge of the company’s processes and personnel, and have enough time, energy and interest to promote the program internally and externally.
  • Place the co-op under the supervision of a qualified manager or engineer who can assist him or her in adapting to the work environment and provide effective professional and technical guidance.
  • Assign the co-op a mentor, a young engineer with a similar background or interests, who will take them to lunch periodically, help them adapt to the company culture, and inform them of things to do in the area.
  • Pay the co-op a reasonable wage commensurate with his or her ability, experience and job responsibilities. Automatically withdraw taxes from their paycheck each pay period.
  • Demonstrate a genuine interest in integrating the co-op as a team member in your organization.
  • Promote professional development by allowing and encouraging co-ops to participate in training, lunch ‘n’ learns, workshops, and other growth opportunities.
  • Provide frequent feedback to co-ops throughout the work term. Complete the Career Center’s Student Performance Evaluation Form at the end of each term.
  • Inform the Career Center of any changes in the primary contact person for your organization. Also, inform us if you experience any difficulties regarding program logistics or co-op performance.
  • Enter into the co-op program with a long-term commitment. Assuming that the work performance is satisfactory, provide the opportunity for co-ops to complete all required work terms within your organization. Please inform the Career Center of any proposed modifications in a co-op’s school/work schedule.
  • If your organization is not located within commuting distance of campus, help co-ops to find reasonably priced, safe, short-term housing and to set up utilities. As your program grows, you may consider providing a housing subsidy.
  • If you hire several co-ops, provide them with one another’s contact information so they can coordinate roommates and social activities. You may also want to designate a student co-op leader(s) to assist your employer co-op coordinator in creating a calendar of social, team-building, and community service activities
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