Cooperative Education Defined
Cooperative Education is available to students at colleges and universities worldwide.
The program is called “Co-op” because it involves a cooperative effort on the part of colleges,
employers, and students to form an exceptional educational program. Working together, a
synergistic learning process is created that integrates classroom studies with supervised work
experiences. Students are employed for a semester at a time in positions related to their major
field of study and career objective. The process typically alternates work and study. An example
of a Co-op work tour is a 6-month tour initially, and after that, the student may return for either
6 or 3-month tours. Scheduling will vary because of school requirements and geographical
location. Therefore, a Co-op tour can differ from the one described above. It is strongly
suggested that the Co-op works at least one semester and one summer tour together. Co-op is
NOT strictly summer work nor is it a short internship. The program is designed to provide
the student with increasing responsibility commensurate with increased academic skills and
experience gained from previous school and work terms.
The primary objective of the program is to provide a source of highly
motivated employees who are familiar with the employer activities and are ready to assume their
place in the work force immediately upon graduation and successful completion of the Co-op
program. For this reason, the distribution of skill types within the program closely mirrors the
employers professional work force as a whole.
Benefits of Cooperative Education
To the Supervisor and the employer
♦ Provides continuous source of new talent and original ideas.
♦ Provides cost-effective recruitment, training, and retention vehicle.
♦ Permits input into the educational process.
♦ Provides an opportunity to preview potential full-time employees in actual work situations.
♦ Aids in meeting diversity focused goals through identification, placement, and development
of qualified minority candidates.
♦ Allows senior employees the chance to mentor and train employees.
♦ Provides a good “on-campus” image through Co-ops who become ambassadors for the employer when they return to campus.
To the Student
♦ Provides practical experience in applying academic principles and theories.
♦ Helps in determining general and specific career opportunities and goals.
♦ Develops confidence, interpersonal skills, and professional work habits.
♦ Increases motivation and desire to learn.
♦ Allows exposure to state-of-the-art equipment and practices.
♦ Provides salary and tuition assistance eligibility.
♦ Provides all full-time benefits.
♦ Possibility of full-time employment to be made upon successful completion of the program
♦ Provides access to senior employees.
To the School
♦ Offers feedback on current practices in the working community.
♦ Furnishes information on employment trends.
♦ Strengthens rapport with the community.
Expectations and Roles
When a Co-op student has been placed in your organization, it is you (the supervisor) who plays
a crucial role in the success of the Co-op Program. The two most important
ingredients for a successful experience are the establishment of a mentoring relationship and the
quality of the work assignments. Here are some ideas to help foster effective development of a
♦ Whenever possible, meet the student on the first day that they report to work or have
someone designated to do so.
♦ Introduce the Co-op to fellow workers.
♦ Plan well-defined work assignments before the student arrival.
♦ Assign projects of increasing responsibility and challenge.
♦ Vary the assigned tasks to expand learning opportunities.
♦ Set time schedules for follow-up and task completion.
♦ Provide an alternate resource person for the student to consult in case you are not available
and brief this person on his or her role as an alternate source of guidance.
♦ Encourage the student to ask questions and develop an on-going communication system.
♦ Expect the Co-op to be a productive and contributing member of the group.
♦ Discuss career and academic goals.
♦ Discuss opportunities in the next tours, consider experience in other sections or branches, if
♦ Encourage participation in other company division activities.
♦ Assist the student in adapting to the work-world environment by explaining routines,
organizational structure, responsibilities, and expectations.
♦ Provide printed information or websites about your area whenever possible (e.g., acronyms,
organizational chart, information resources, timekeeping, and security procedures).
♦ Familiarize the student with the telephone system and other electronic resources.
♦ Provide feedback to student through performance plans and appraisal.
citation - NASA