Cooperative Education Program

Employer Information

Cooperative Education Program (Co-op) is a structured method program that offers students the opportunity to alternate periods of academic study with periods of work closely related to their major field of study.  The combination of academic study and work produces an overall learning experience that gives greater meaning to students’ studies and more direction to career development. 

This program is non-compulsory; however, the University urges students to gain work experiences either through internships or cooperative education assignments prior to graduation. The program is student-oriented and centralized in the Office of Career Services (OCS). 

Any undergraduate and graduate student formally enrolled in a degree-granting program at North Carolina A&T State University (N.C. A&T) can participate in the Co-op.  Participants must establish and maintain at least a 2.5 overall grade point average. Freshmen must complete their first academic year prior to the first work assignment.  Transfer students must complete one semester.   Students must be registered with the Office of Career Services.

There are two types of co-op assignments, alternating and parallel.  Alternating co-op assignment is the most common type.  This allows the student to travel to another city, state or country and work full-time as a cooperative education student, enrolling only in the cooperative education course.  Parallel co-op assignment allows the student go to school and work at the same time. 

  • Provides an excellent pool of well-prepared employees.
  • Improves the personnel selection process by using actual on-the-job performance as a basis for permanent hiring decisions.
  • Increases the cost-effectiveness of recruitment and training.
  • Increases retention rates among permanent employees recruited and hired through a co-op program.
  • Both students and employers have the time to try out the position and ensure that the fit is the most productive and effective for both.
  • Strengthens employer relations with the University.

Some initial steps should take place if an employer wishes to hire a co-op student from N.C. A&T.  After making contact with OCS and talking with the Assistant Director for Experiential Learning, review the current list of majors offered at North Carolina A&T State University.  This will help with deciding how many positions to interview and/or post. Also a potential employer may wish to visit the campus to discuss the program with the appropriate departmental staff and/or, when possible, have the staff visit the worksite to gain first-hand knowledge of what may be required of the students. 

Co-op students alternate terms of full-time attendance at N.C. A&T with terms of full-time employment with an employer. The employment must be related to the student’s area of study and full time (i.e., forty hours per week). Such training is expected to be diverse in order to afford students a breadth of experience.  Typically, students work two or three terms, which includes a summer. Most students who participate in co-op matriculate through the University in about five years.

When a student accepts a co-op assignment, they will meet with the Assistant Director for Experiential Learning, to review the process and paperwork.  Enrollment in a co-op course is also required in order to maintain an active student status at the University.

 

One of the most important steps employers will take to ensure success of a co-op assignment/experience is to write an effective job description. Students seek challenging assignments, but may not yet know a great deal about their field. A clear job description is a strong marketing tool. Before submitting your job description online through Handsahke, have some of the following information below.

  • Brief description of your company, agency or organization
  • Position descriptions of each opportunity
  • Desired majors, interpersonal skills and technical skills
  • Desired work dates
  • Description of notable benefits such as housing stipends/allowances

After identifying available co-op positions, contact the Assistant Director for Experiential Learning, Pamela Basheer at basheerp@ncat.edu or 336-334-7755.  Discussion will take place about the best way for your company/agency to reach potential co-op students.  Several ways are listed below.

  • Attend career fairs.
  • Participate in on-campus interviews (virtual).
  • Host events and workshops. (virtual)
  • Post a position(s) on-line through Handshake.
  • Request resume referrals.

Employers have specific responsibilities in the cooperative education process. N.C. A&T expects its co-op employers to:

  • Provide training related to the co-op’s program of study and career goals.
  • Inform students about their work assignments and wage/benefit package prior to start date.
  • Pay the co-op a reasonable wage commensurate with the co-op’s ability, experience, and job responsibilities.
  • Place the co-op under the supervision of a qualified manager
  • Promote professional development by allowing co-ops to participate in training workshops and other growth opportunities.
  • Provide frequent feedback to co-ops throughout the work term and complete a formal written evaluation at the end of the term.
  • Inform the Co-op Program of any changes in the primary contact person for your organization.
  • Maintain open lines of communication.

Notify the Assistant Director for Experiential Learning as to the number of offers to be extended and to whom offers are being made.  Notifying the Office in advance helps us ensure that the candidates have registered with the Office of Career Services and assists the Cooperative Education Program in its efforts to maintain records of all offers. After notifying the Assistant Director for Experiential Learning, the employer may proceed with making offers to the students selected. Even though the offer may be extended verbally, follow up with a written offer letter and provide a copy to the Assistant Director for Experiential Learning. Emailed offer letters are sufficient.  Offers should include information about the wage/benefit package and the starting date or starting semester.

When determining how long students will be given to respond to offers, keep in mind that students may wish to complete all scheduled interviews prior to making a decision. Please send letters of regret to all students interviewed who will not be receiving an offer.

Salary

No standard pay scale exists for students working on a co-op. However, level of pay does impact an employer’s degree of success in recruiting co-op candidates who are highly sought after.  Each year, the Cooperative Education Program performs a salary survey of all co-op employers, and the most recent results are available to current or potential employers.