Does your student want to gain experience in their field of study, make connections, and earn money — all at the same time? If so, they should consider co-op: an opportunity to include paid work experience in their studies.
What is co-op?
Co-op — officially known as co-operative education — is a great way to explore possible careers and earn money while completing a degree. Co-op provides work experience related to your studnet’s field of study, like an internship except that it is paid. Depending on the college or university, there will be one or multiple work placements.
At most universities, securing co-op jobs is a competitive process with students selected by employers based on their resumé, grades, extracurriculars, and, of course, an interview.
Fortunately, all universities have advisors and career centers to help students prepare for the application process including help with resume writing, interview tips, and guidance into which employers and industries suit the student best.
1. Try out different careers: A co-op program can help a student figure out what to do after graduation. By trying different types of jobs, they can quickly learn what you do and don’t like. With most co-op programs, students choose which jobs you apply to.
2. Develop new skills: The more jobs students try, the more skills they can learn. Co-op is a great way to get hands-on experience and start to develop skills. Students can enhance soft skills like communication and teamwork while on co-op and hone technical skills by learning from their colleagues.
3. Make connections: Whether students meet fellow co-op students or get a good reference from their boss, the connections they make from co-op will be beneficial for their future. Co-op helps them start building their professional network.
4. Graduate with experience: Having work experience puts students ahead in the job search after graduation. Some co-op terms may even turn into a job offer for when they graduate. Companies are always looking for people who have work experience, and co-op provides that.
Things to consider
1. Moving: A co-op job may not be in the same city as the college or university, so there is the likelihood of relocation for a work term. If your student likes the change of scenery, great! But moving frequently isn’t for everyone.
2. Applying for jobs: When deciding if a co-op program is for your student, keep in mind that applying for jobs isn’t always easy. They’ll have to manage their time well, as they’ll be submitting applications and attending interviews on top of keeping up with their classes.
3. An extra year of school: Choosing a co-op program can take longer to complete a degree (usually one year)
Questions? Let’s chat!
Weil College Advising, LLC