College Cooperative Education programs give college students the opportunity to attend college while earning academic credit toward their degree program. These educational programs are generally sponsored by Federal, State, and Local government agencies and private companies who partner with colleges and universities to recruit and graduate highly qualified students to work in specific industries with various needs.
Currently there are more than 500 colleges offering cooperative education programs in the United States. Many of these programs are sponsored by both domestic and international companies that offer real world work experience and many times give students the opportunity for continued employment.
A cooperative education program is different from an internship, in that, the partnering organization has jobs or tasks that will be assigned to the student and the work is approved and supervised by both the cooperative work experience partner and college faculty member responsible for the program. A cooperative work experience program gives students a chance to explore career paths while gaining relevant work experience and networking contacts that can help them get a job after graduation from college.
These programs are beneficial to the student, the college and the partnering organizations in a variety of ways:
- Students learn applicable work skills and gain a variety of academic and professional skills required to join the workforce.
- Colleges receive state and federal funding to support the co-op programs while placing 60 to 90 percent of co-op participants in full-time jobs upon graduation.
- Partnering companies have the advantage of working with students who are potential future workers and they are able to learn about the students’ work ethic and abilities in a variety of different settings and jobs within their organization and have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of students to determine which students are the best candidates for future hires.
- Companies have a chance to work with students to prepare them for future employment with their company.
Cooperative education programs are critical to the prosperity of colleges and businesses working collaboratively to better prepare students for continued post-secondary education and entry into the workforce. Cooperative partnership education programs are successful because students receive training on-site; while partnering companies help community based colleges develop curriculum for work experience training to target specific learning strategies, students interpersonal skills and job specific skills development to meet the training needs of individual employers.