How Can YOU Benefit as a Co-op Employer?
Co-op students are excellent employees because they are so highly motivated. They can perform work that may be routine for permanent employees who need time to work on more complex tasks. Co-op students may be hired to work on special projects or during peak workload periods. They may also be hired to assist with the work of employees who are taking time off. One of the most compelling reasons for employer participation in Cooperative Education is the opportunity to effectively screen, select, and recruit students for permanent employment after graduation.
How Is A Program Set Up?
Once you have determined your employment needs, contact the Office of Career Services and:
- Provide a description of job responsibilities and qualifications.
- Indicate the number of students you wish to employ and the periods you wish to employ them.
- State your preferred method for interviewing applicants. Applicants may be referred to you by mail. Interviews may be conducted by telephone, on campus, or at your work site.
- Provide information about your organization for students to review prior to their interviews.
What are the requirements of a Co-op Employer?
Memorandum of Understanding - Each Co-op employer signs a memo of understanding with Western Carolina University stating that the employer will assume responsibility for the student's supervision during the work term. Co-op students are usually paid by the employer.
Orientation and Training - Co-op is an educational work program. Co-op students are exposed to real learning experiences on the job and receive some from of orientation and/or training from their supervisor. Students need some idea of what to expect. As a student progresses through college, work experiences increase in skill and responsibility. Employers should provide in-service training for permanent employees so they understand why Co-op students are there.
Faculty/Staff Visits - Employers are asked to provide time for a visit by a Western faculty member or a Career Services staff member once during the work term. During these visits, faculty/staff members meet with both the student and the student's supervisor to discuss his or her progress.
Evaluations - Co-op employers are requested to complete a mid-term and final evaluation of the student worker. Evaluations are mailed from the Co-op office to employers during the work term. The evaluations are used to assist the students with their professional development. As part of the student's exit interview when their work assignment has ended, some employers invite the students to evaluate their experience with them.
When Do Students Work?
Western Carolina University operates on the semester system. Students are hired for full-time or part-time positions lasting an entire semester. The Co-op calendar is flexible. Some employers hire two students for one position in alternating terms. Others prefer students to work two consecutive terms, such as spring-summer or summer-fall. Still others need students only during the summer term. Approximate dates for each term are:
- Fall semester: late August to mid-December
- Spring semester: early January to mid-May
- Summer semester: mid-May to mid-August
How are students selected?
To be eligible to participate, Western students must attain sophomore status and have a minimum of 2.0 cumulative grade point average on a scale of 4.0. Qualifications for specific positions are established by the employer. The University sends resumes/applications based on these guidelines. Selection of the students is made by the employer. Students are aware that positions are competitive.
Dixon Hughes PLLC, LLP/Western Co-op of the Year Award
At the end of each Co-op term you will have the opportunity to nominate any student who Co-oped with you for the most prestigious award given to an experiential learning student at Western. The award is given each Spring to honor a student who completed a Co-op anytime the previous year. Once nominated, students obtain supporting letters from faculty members and submit an essay on their Co-op experience. Criteria for selection includes not only superior work performance, but academic achievement, community service, and contribution to the Co-op program.
The student selected is presented a plaque and a monetary award from Crisp Hughes Evans, LLP, a regional accounting firm in Asheville, sponsor of the event. The recipient is also nominated for the National Co-op of the Year Award sponsored jointly by the Cooperative Education Association and the Cooperative Education Division of ASEE.