What’s Up with Co-op?

by Laura Merrill, Editor-in-Chief of Career Connection

You hear a lot about cooperative education in the College of Business, but you may not know what it’s all about. Here are some FAQs that may provide some answers.

What’s the History of Cooperative Education?
Cooperative education was founded in 1906 by Herman Schneider at the University of Cincinnati. The original model was in the engineering school, and students rotated working one quarter and taking classes the other quarter. At the University of Louisville, co-op originated in the Speed School of Engineering. Today, at the College of Business, co-op remains an opportunity to take what you learned in the classroom and apply it to real-world work.

What’s the difference between a co-op and an internship?
Traditionally, internships take place during the summer when the student is not taking classes. This means you don’t have the academic situation to contend with. Co-ops, on the other hand, are during the academic year. In the College of Business, we use the terms interchangeably.

How do I know if I’m eligible to do a co-op?
You can find out if you’re eligible to participate in co-op by going to http://business.louisville.edu/careers and navigating to the co-op forms section. Each major has different requirements and they are listed in the form entitled Pre-requisites. All majors must have a minimum 2.5 GPA, although some employers require 3.0 or higher.

Do you get paid to do a co-op?
Often, but not always. The average weekly rate for U of L College of Business co-ops in the 2005-2006 school year was $420.40. At 30 hours per week for a 15-week co-op, the weekly rate translates to $14.01 per hour. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the national average pay per hour for non-technical majors was $14.80, and for technical majors it was $17.29. For business majors as a whole, the national average hourly rate was $15.12. But don’t make the mistake of judging a co-op opportunity strictly by whether or not it pays. The best learning experiences may come without compensation.

What are the advantages of co-op?
1. You earn course credit for working in a professional setting.
2. You have the opportunity to gain real-world work experience in your chosen field of study.
3. There is ample opportunity to network with professionals in your field.
4. Many companies choose their full-time hires from the co-op pool. NACE reports that the conversion rate, or the rate of co-op jobs converting to full-time placement, was 72.6% in 2006.
5. Co-op gives you the chance to see if you do, in fact, want to pursue a career in your chosen field. Alan Attaway, acting dean of the College of Business from January 2003 to December 2004, thought he wanted to be a chemical engineer—until he completed 12 months of co-op work at Ashland Oil. He ended up switching majors to Industrial Management and earned his BSIM.
6. You’ll be able to strengthen your resume with real work experience.
7. Seasoned professionals will train you.
8. You can take classroom knowledge and concepts and apply them to a real work situation.
9. You can apply knowledge from your job to your coursework. In other words, you will better understand your course work as a result of first-hand knowledge in the field.
10. Last but not least, you can earn money!

Where do I go to learn about co-op?
The Ulmer Career Management Center is the place to go for information about co-op. Contact Ashley Terrell by calling 852-7756 or sending an email to ulmer@louisville.edu. You can also go to http://business.louisville.edu/careers, navigate to the forms section, and grab a copy of our FAQs. Seriously consider co-op. You won’t regret it!

The College of Business has established co-op programs with several companies. Among them:

• YUM! Brands
• United Parcel Service
• Humana
• General Electric
• Fifth Third Bank
• E.ON US
• Kindred Healthcare
• Churchill Downs
• Ernst & Young
• PricewaterhouseCoopers
• KPMG
• Deloitte & Touche

Several smaller local companies also host co-ops. For more information, check the job postings and upcoming events in Symplicity or come by the Ulmer Career Management Center. We’re happy to assist you in your search for that perfect co-op.

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2 comments so far

  1. […] many benefits, as you can see in the accompanying article, “What’s Up with Co-op?” located here. In addition, here are two students whose co-op experiences have prepared them for work after […]

  2. […] you learned in “What’s Up with Co-op?” there are many advantages to participating in co-op. Here are a few students who have reaped the […]


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