How Professional Co-op Works

How Professional Co-op Works: A Three-Phase Process

Three boxes; first box reads "Preparation, Professional Development Seminar", second reads "Experience, Co-op Work Experience", third reads "Reflection, Assessment"

The Professional Co-op Program is a structured program comprised of three required phases:

  1. professional preparation
  2. the actual industry experience
  3. the integration of on-the-job learning into the student’s program of study

Each of the three phases corresponds with a required course to help students prepare for, engage with, and reflect upon their co-op experience.

Phase 1: Preparation Seminar (Before Co-op)

To ensure student readiness to successfully participate in co-op employment, all professional co-op students enroll in a letter-graded, one-credit, full-semester Professional Development Seminar. Students will prepare to engage in the job search process through resume writing, strategic interviewing, professional networking and learning professional behavior and presentation skills. The goal of the course is to assist each student in developing a sound plan of action to successfully participate in the cooperative education experience.

Phase 2: Work Experience (During Co-op)

Students can work on co-op for a duration aligning with one of the following cycles:

  • January – June (Six months)
  • July – December (Six months)
  • Summer Only (Three months)
  • January – April (Accounting students only)

Depending upon the requirements of their academic department, students may undertake a combination of two three-month summer co-ops or one (or more) six-month co-op work experience. Some employers are eager to employ students for multiple co-op cycles and a student may elect to remain with the same employer. To learn how the Professional Co-op Program is structured into a particular program of study, please contact the co-op advisor for your major or college.

Phase 3: Assessment Seminar (After Co-op)

Upon the completion of each co-op work experience, students enroll in a pass/fail graded assessment course. These courses, which often include guest lectures from our faculty/employer partners, are designed to assist our students in evaluating, reflecting, and presenting on their work experience, while gaining an understanding of professional ethics and the dynamics of the workplace. A special emphasis is also placed on preparing for future employment opportunities.

For more information on the required co-op coursework associated with these three program phases, please see our Co-op Coursework and Credits resource.