Launching A Co-op/Internship Program
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.
- Establish pay rates, work schedules and job responsibilities for each co-op/intern position. Allocate sufficient funds for a whole year.
- Become familiar with the Department of Labor Internships 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.
Steps for Hiring a Co-op Student
- Create a job description that includes the background, skills and aptitudes the successful candidate should possess. Post the internship on Handshake!
- Credit-bearing co-ops and internships must follow the academic semesters that begin in September, January and May.
- Career Services Directors in the Colleges/Schools can help you develop a timeline so that pre-screening, interviews, selection and preparation can be successfully completed by the target date. Connect with Career Services staff.
- Review resumes and set up student interviews.
- Once you’ve decided to hire a particular student, extend the offer to the student and inform the Montclair State Career Services Director 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.
- 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.
- 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.