Are you interested in a co-op work semester? Here are a few things you need to know.
A Co-Op, also known as Cooperative Education is a type of internship that allows students to gain real world career training in the field of engineering while also earning college credit. Co-op students work for pay and often develop lasting relationships with supervisors and employers. Students work experience is documented on their official college transcript. Co-op positions can lead to full time employment after graduation.
- You must be in good standing with The University of Mississippi School of Engineering
- Approval from your Department Chair and Academic Advisor
- Minimum 2.5 GPA – some companies require a higher GPA to participate in co-op, in this case the higher requirement prevails
- Maturity, professionalism, and a willingness to work hard
The School of Engineering at the University of Mississippi offers an excellent Co-op Program. This program is an outstanding way for our students to work with employers from a variety of industries in gaining valuable professional experience. The following outline provides a brief description of the Co-op Program:
- Undergraduate and graduate engineering students in good standing academically are eligible to participate in the program.
- Work periods are flexible to include a combination of Summer, Fall, and Spring academic terms.
- Students are not required to participate in co-op. Those who accept employment in their engineering/technical field, work under the supervision of an engineer/technical professional, and complete at least two full academic terms (Fall + Spring) of co-op work are eligible to apply their co-op credit as a 3-hr technical elective toward a B.S. engineering/computer science degree.
- During Co-op work terms, students are enrolled in COP 300. Enrollment in a Co-op course is full-time equivalent student status according to the university administration. Enrollment in a Co-op course typically requires full-time employment. Students are enrolled in the appropriate level course for 1-hr credit during their first period of co-op. To be eligible to apply co-op work experience to a B.S. degree, the student should gain a total of 3-credit hours of co-op work experience through either two or three co-op work terms. The following options apply:
- Consecutive 12-month full-time employment; start anytime
- Consecutive 9-month full time employment; Fall through Spring (Aug - May)
- Full-time work in Spring; return to school in summer; Full-time work in Fall; optional Full-time work following summer (12-months total)
- Full-time work (3 months)
- Students participating in a summer only co-op work term are not required to enroll in Co-op. Since tuition is charged for course enrollment, many students choose to accept a co-op assignment for the summer without formal enrollment in a course for transcript credit. International students typically do need to enroll in a summer term Co-op course to satisfy student visa requirements.
- Co-op employment opportunities for students are found through the School of Engineering Career Fairs held during the Fall and Spring semesters. Employment opportunities are not limited to a pre-approved set of participating companies. The engineering co-op coordinator screens new employment opportunities prior to allowing student enrollment in a Co-op course for credit.
- For students desiring to apply co-op work experience to their professional engineering internship with the Mississippi Board of PE/PS Licensure, the following rule is in place. Spring and fall semesters are approximately 31 weeks at The University of Mississippi. The State Board decided in February 2010 to adopt a new rule to grant 3 months experience credit to applicants who have completed a co-op program (at an ABET accredited university) of at least 26 weeks, but less than 52 weeks. Typically the verification procedure requires an original letter from the university's co-op office stating that the student completed the program.
How do I get a Co-op?
Many companies offer Co-ops, such as Ergon, Olin-Winchester, Nissan, South Mississippi Electric Power Association, Exxon, Hino Motors, St. Jude, and many more. A student can apply for a co-op position either online through the company website or at the co-op career fair in the fall. You can apply for a co-op position with any company that offers engineering co-ops to students. You do not have to co-op with one of the companies listed above. Attending the career fairs is another great way to make connections and find Co-ops.
Complete the Co-Op Student Information Sheet and return it to Megan Miller in Brevard 204. Once your form is completed and returned, the dean’s office will enroll you in the appropriate section of co-op.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where will I live during my co-op experience?
- That depends on the company. Some companies provide corporate apartments for co-op students, others do not. If the company does not provide housing, they are usually helpful in connecting students with other co-op students and helping them find somewhere to live for the duration of the co-op.
Will I be able to keep my scholarships?
- Yes. During the semester you are enrolled in co-op the Financial Aid office will freeze your financial aid package until you return for a full academic semester. You must complete the Co-Op Student Information Sheet and return it to Megan Miller no less than ten days before the start of the semester.
I was offered a co-op--now what?
- Begin by downloading and filling out this form and returning it to Megan Upchurch Miller, who will have the next steps in the process.
Colin Wattigney is confident that his co-op experiences will serve him well in the future and make him a more viable candidate for job prospects. As a mechanical engineering major, he has worked with General Electric Aviation in Batesville and BorgWarner Transmission Systems in Water Valley.
"I hope to either pursue a career in the automotive manufacturing industry or in a private engineering consulting firm," Wattigney said. "I firmly believe my co-op experience has enhanced my career opportunities. I learned a great deal of engineering and manufacturing skills that have expanded my classroom education such as 3-D CAD, prototype design and product flow."
Paul Furr, a senior chemical engineering student, has had a similar experience and feels that he benefitted from his time completing a co-op with Toyota Motor Manufacturing.
"Working at Toyota was an exciting experience in a lot of ways that I did not expect," he said. "I knew about their reputation for building quality vehicles and their forward-thinking business practices, but I was not expecting to be exposed to an entirely new culture in the process. My business, data analysis and public speaking skills improved greatly."
Andrew Li, a 2015 mechanical engineering and CME graduate, states that the year-long co-op he completed with Advanced Distributor Products in Grenada, MS set him apart from other graduates in applying for jobs.
"I was hired as an innovation engineer at Samsung Austin Semiconductor in Austin, TX before graduating. Although I had worked in school to have the best possible GPA and honors upon graduation, I was hired by Samsung because the experience I had acquired through my co-op was explicitly what they were looking for. I would not have gotten such a great career opportunity had I not taken the co-op with ADP."