Launching the co-op initiative
Like the launch of any new initiative, the introduction of Cooperative Education to an organization requires thoughtful planning. Once you've taken a few important steps your co-op/internship is likely to run smoothly and generate all the benefits you expect. Here are some basics to consider:
- Make sure people in your organization understand the reasons for your involvement and the benefits you hope to achieve. It is especially important that management, line supervisors and co-workers understand and "buy into" the decision.
- Give careful consideration to who will supervise each co-op/intern. It is important that the supervisors you select are enthusiastic about the role and willing to become mentors. These supervisors should become familiar with co-op and experiential learning.
- Provide detailed orientation for supervisors. They must understand that they will be asked to assess student progress as well as meet with the student's faculty advisor once or twice at your location.
- Provide orientation for your staff so they understand their responsibilities regarding the co-op/intern.
- Decide whether you want a full-time or part-time (requires a minimum of 20 hours per week)
co-op/intern, or a combination of the two. Keep in mind that students are required by Montclair State University to work for at least one entire semester (15 weeks).
- Provide guidelines for quality assignments, written job description and co-op/intern guidelines.
- Establish pay rates, work schedules and job responsibilities for each co-op/intern position. Allocate sufficient funds for a whole year. This will prevent budgetary obstacles from derailing this co-op/internship initiative and ease the transition between ensuing students who will fill the same position.
- Become familiar with the Fair Labor Standards Fact Sheet which helps determine whether interns must be paid the minimum wage and overtime for services provided to "for-profit" private sector employers.
- Articulate company policies that will apply to co-op/interns. Consider areas such as sick days, holiday pay, grievance procedures, conflict resolution, responsible computing and other topics. Provide an orientation for students.
- The Cooperative Education Employer Handbook is a helpful resource to answer additional questions.
Steps for Hiring a Co-op Student
1. Create a job description that includes the background, skills and aptitudes the successful candidate should possess. Establish the criteria used to screen prospective co-op/interns.
2. Students are available for work based on academic semesters that begin in September, January and May. Co-op Counselors can help you develop a time-line so that pre-screening, interviews, selection and preparation can be successfully completed by the target date.
3. Review resume referrals and arrange interviews at your site with students who meet your basic screening criteria. Co-op Counselors review the resume, and only those students who meet your criteria are referred for consideration.
4. Interview students who meet your basic screening criteria.
5. Once you've decided to hire a particular student, extend the offer to the student and inform the Co-op Counselor when the student accepts the position. After your offer has been made and accepted, the student has on-campus paperwork and course enrollment to complete, so it's important you notify us as soon as your decision is firm.
6. Assign a supervisor for the co-op/intern. Make sure that supervisor understands why your organization is involved and their own responsibilities. Select someone who is enthusiastic about undertaking the role, since that person will be required to sign the student's learning agreement, supervise and act as a mentor to the student; meet once or twice a semester (at your site) with the student's Co-op Faculty Advisor; and provide two written assessments of the student's progress.
7. If your organization has a Personnel or Human Resources department, make sure to inform them as soon as you've hired the co-op/intern.The Human Resources and Payroll offices, along with anyone else involved in record keeping should be familiar with co-op/internships and the company policies you've decided will apply to co-op/interns.