Co-ops and Internships
Thank you for your interest in Michigan Technological University's Cooperative Education Program. We've compiled this guide as a resource for employers wishing to learn more about our program. Large and small companies, as well as public-sector and nonprofit organizations, have found co-ops to be invaluable for meeting their immediate employment needs and for recruiting future graduates.
What's the Difference Between a Co-op and an Internship?
At Michigan Tech, a co-op is an academic course offering 2 credits per semester. Although students earn only 2 academic credits during a co-op assignment, they are considered continuously enrolled students, which allows them to remain on their parents'/guardians' health insurance plan, defer student loan payments, and register for classes in upcoming semesters. Students may participate in a co-op during the fall, spring, or summer semesters.
An internship is most often considered a summer job, with no academic credit earned. (Although we gladly record salary offers made to these students, there is no official registration or paperwork for an internship in our office.)
What are the Benefits of Hiring a Co-op Student?
- Provides an excellent pool of well-prepared employees
- Improves personnel selection process by using actual on-the-job performance as a basis for permanent/future hiring decisions
- Increases cost-effectiveness of recruitment and training. Studies show employers save money by using co-ops to identify and train personnel. View our co-op annual reports for financial data
- Improves workforce diversity through access to minority students for permanent employment
- Increases retention rates among permanent employees recruited and hired through a co-op program. Both students and employers have the time to try out the position and ensure that the fit is the most productive and effective for both.
- Enhances human resource flexibility with effective short-term employees
- Strengthens company relations with colleges and students. Through evaluations, advisory boards, and other means, employers can work with colleges to ensure an effective curriculum.
What are the Student Requirements for Participation?
Students must have completed their first year at Michigan Tech and must be in good academic and social standing. Transfer students must have completed at least one semester at Michigan Tech before they may go on a co-op. International students (on an F1 student visa) must have completed two consecutive semesters at Michigan Tech to be eligible to go on a co-op.
What Rotational Commitments are there?
Michigan Tech's co-op program is voluntary and flexible. Employers determine single, multiple, or rotational assignments within a semester calendar in these general time frames:
- Fall Semester: mid-August to December
- Spring Semester: January to mid-May
- Summer Semester: mid-May to mid-August
You can also reference Michigan Tech's academic calendar online.
Common Employer Questions
We already have a Michigan Tech student in mind to work for us. What do we need to do to register with the Co-op Office?
What are my responsibilities as an employer of a co-op student?
The actual requirements of the co-op program are:
- Provide the student with paid, challenging work experience in an area specifically related to the student's academic field of study.
- In multiple co-op assignments, the work should be progressive in nature.
- Evaluate the co-op student twice during the co-op assignment with the forms provided by our office (at mid-point and at the end of the assignment), and return them to our office in a timely manner.
- Read the student's completed technical report and sign the required statement on the first page, verifying that the report does not contain proprietary material and may be forwarded on to the appropriate academic department at Michigan Tech for grading.
These are the basic requirements of our co-op program, however, which we have found common amongst the most successful co-op assignments:
- Endorsement and support of the supervisor and management. It is crucial that management be actively supportive of a co-op program to 1) Ensure participation from their employees; 2) acknowledge the co-op's credibility; and 3) make sure the co-op is not being relegated solely to "back-burner" projects.
- Active and supportive mentor at the company. Whether the supervisor also plays a role as mentor, or another person is asked to take on this part, the mentor is essential in the real-life development of the student's abilities, work habits and interpersonal skills. The student benefits from active mentor interaction in the following areas:
- Learning by experience
- Improving self-confidence
- Getting career advice
What additional paperwork/information is required for hiring International students?
- Printed on company letterhead
- Signed by the employer
- The company's name and street address where the student will be working
- Specific start and end dates of employment
- Salary/Wages and the number of hours the student will be working