Recently, we posted about how internships are going the way of the dinosaur (and we don’t mean on an island with other dinosaurs, ravaging the likes of Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum).
With more and more companies no longer employing the use of interns, what’s an inexperienced college student to do?
There are some colleges and universities that offer co-op programs, or programs that provide academic credit and/or compensation structured with job experience. So at these schools not only are students getting the course requirements they need, they’re also receiving valuable experience they can put on their resumes.
What are some schools that have such programs? We’re highlighting 10 of them here.
Let’s start where the co-op was invented—in Cincinnati in 1906. Herman Schneider, an engineer and educator, had always wanted to see what would happen when students would apply their college skills into real-world circumstances, and after being appointed to the University of Cincinnati faculty in 1903, he began work on implementing a cooperative education program for the institution. More than 100 years later, not only is this program still going strong, but it’s been named as one of the nation’s best. Majors that are able to participate in the co-op program include civil engineering, graphic design, information systems, and more.
The co-op program isn’t required at Northeastern, but it may as well be, as 90 percent of students participate in the program. One of Northeastern’s biggest program perks is that it offers co-op programs in a variety of different majors, from communications to engineering to social studies. And because students are in a big city like Boston, they are able to co-op through a variety of city employers.
The main perk of this Michigan school’s program is also its possible flaw: Kettering students are expected to stay with the same employer throughout the entire program. So if you hate the position, you’re going to have to stick with it. However, this is also a great strategy by the school in that it teaches students how to work through challenges and obstacles, which, you know, sometimes come up in the workplace (spoiler alert: they will come up at some point, no matter the job).
If you’re interested in engineering and doing a co-op, then the Auburn co-op program is probably the school for you. Ninety-three percent of co-op students are from the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, and total co-op wages for 2012 were more than $8 million.
At this university in Philadelphia, you can gain up to 18 months of resume-boosting experience by the time you graduate, from more than 1,200 co-op employers in locations across the country and around the world. Some sample companies include Lockheed Martin, Comcast, and QVC Inc. Plus, the average six-month salary for a co-op student is more than $16,000. Not bad!
7. Georgia Tech
Once again, engineering is prominent when it comes to this co-op program. Georgia Tech’s co-op program is available in all engineering realms, plus many majors in other colleges at the institute. Students have the ability to investigate their own co-op opportunities; all they have to do is get approval from the Division of Professional Practice and work out the arrangements with an adviser. The position must be related to your major, be paid, full-time, supervised, and with more and more responsibility as the role goes on.
Similar to Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech’s co-op program is a five-year one. Students in all undergraduate majors are eligible, with sample employers including Econo Lodge, Deloitte & Touche, Department of the Navy, Walt Disney, Seventeen Magazine, and Bank of America.
Once again, if you’re an engineering or STEM student, you’re in luck. Clemson’s co-op program caters mostly to these type of students, with typical earnings being more than $13 an hour for three rotations. For majors other than engineering, students are required to do two rotations, with at least one rotation during a regular semester.
At the University of South Carolina, USC co-op students on average are paid $16 an hour to gain relevant work experience while in school. You must work at least two semesters, but students also have the option of living and working in different parts of the country, so it’s kind of like a mini-study abroad—with a salary.
Why do a co-op? Getting paid to gain valuable resume experience is a win-win. However, some of the setbacks may be that you have to stay longer in school and that the co-ops are limited to engineering students. Whichever route you choose, cooperative education programs are definitely looking into, especially when 40 percent of recruiters reportedly will draw their new college hires from internship and co-op programs.