You probably have many questions about the Co-op program. That’s why we’ve compiled answers to a few of the more common ones. Please feel free to e-mail, call, or stop by Engineering Co-op and Career Services.
- Why should I participate in Co-op?
- Will Engineering Co-op & Career Services contact me during my Co-op?
- What is the difference between a Co-op & an internship?
- How do I qualify for Co-op?
- What happens if my GPA drops below 2.7?
- What happens if my GPA rises back to 2.7 after the Fall semester?
- Can I participate if I have been conditionally approved for affiliation?
- Can I change my major after interviews & still participate?
- Can I start my Co-op in the Spring instead of the Fall?
- Can I start my Co-op in the Summer after sophomore year?
Job Search Process
- How does the process work?
- What if I don't get any interviews?
- What if I don't receive any job offers?
- If I accept an offer, when will I start my job?
- What are my chances of getting a Co-op job near my home?
- What employers hire Co-op students?
Taking a semester away from Cornell
- How do I make up for my fall courses?
- How can I obtain verification of my status as a full-time student for my insurance company?
- Can I Co-op in the Spring?
- Can I study abroad, participate in Co-op, and still graduate in four years?
- Can I still take a Cornell class while I am away on Co-op?
- You will learn how to conduct and prepare for a job search. Graduating seniors report that conducting an actual job search and going through the interviewing process were the most valuable aspects of the Co-op program.
- You’ll earn a good salary while on Co-op.
- You will gain valuable experience in managing your money as you finance your housing, transportation, clothing, entertainment, and other living expenses. (Historically, the hiring organization provides one roundtrip ticket from home to your work location.)
- You will be exposed to professional culture and politics. From this you will gain insight into the kind of work environment and/or organizational structure you may want to either work in or avoid after graduation.
- You will have improved options after graduation. The Co-op experience gives you an advantage over students without Co-op experience, whether you choose to pursue employment or graduate school. FACT: Cornell Co-op students make an average starting salary after graduation that is 5% higher than average.
- Your self-confidence will increase as you interact daily with engineers and other professionals.
Will Engineering Co-op & Career Services contact me during my Co-op?
A faculty or staff member from the College of Engineering will either visit you at your Co-op site or check in with you via phone. The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that things are going well for you and, if not, to help you work through any problems. Additionally, Engineering Co-op & Career Services will communicate regularly with you by e-mail.
What is the difference between a Co-op and an internship?
Co-op is 28 weeks (a semester and a summer); an internship is for a summer only (about 10-12 weeks). The Co-op Program is monitored by the College of Engineering so that you receive extra support throughout the program. Co-op students also receive a notation on their transcript stating that they have completed the program. International students benefit from Co-op by utilizing Curricular Practical Training (CPT), rather than Optional Practical Training (OPT).
What happens if my GPA drops below 2.7?
There is a petition process to participate in Co-op if your GPA is below 2.7. You should contact Co-op staff immediately if this happens to you.
What happens if my GPA rises back to 2.7 after the Fall semester?
Contact Co-op staff immediately and we will help you get on-track for finding a Co-op position.
Can I participate if I have been conditionally approved for affiliation?
Yes, as long as your GPA is 2.7 or higher. If you don't meet the GPA requirements, then you should speak with Co-op staff about the possibility of participating.
Can I change my major after interviews & still participate?
Yes. You may also want to speak with Co-op staff to talk about how this affects your career goals and aligns with your Co-op position.
Spring Co-op Opportunities
Most majors have the flexibility for you to very easily Co-op in the Spring of your Junior year, rather than the Fall, with a bit of planning. Chemical Engineering, Engineering Physics, and Materials Science & Engineering majors typically do not have this option.
Other students should discuss the possibility of a Spring Co-op with your academic advisor and your academic department. A Spring Co-op would typically begin in January or February and last for 28 consecutive weeks until July or August.
Summer Start Dates
Some employers who prefer that students work 28 consecutive weeks may ask if you can begin work in the summer. This would mean that you begin working in May or June and continue through December or January. This is a great option for students who have already earned extra credits and don't need to take summer courses. For others, you may be able to take courses in the summer after junior year.
If you think that this type of schedule would work for you, then you should discuss the possibilities with your academic advisor now, so that you are prepared to communicate this possibility to employers. Keep in mind that completing some junior level courses prior to beginning your Co-op may influence the type of projects that you are given.
How does the process work?
Begin the process by attending the Co-op Information & Registration Meeting early sophomore year. Watch for an email invitation or ask in 201 Carpenter Hall for details.
What if I don't get any interviews?
You will know days in advance with whom you will be interviewing. If you don't get interviews through the pre-select process, you should attend the Networking Reception on the Wednesday night before interviews. Here you will have a chance to speak with recruiters who will be conducting interviews the next day. This is your opportunity to express interest and present your strengths, skills, and experiences in order to be added to the interview schedule. It’s also a good way to break the ice for the next day’s interviews. You are encouraged to meet with a professional staff member any time that you have concerns about the process and your success.
What if I don't receive any job offers?
If you do not receive a job offer through the on-campus recruiting offer process, it is by no means the end. There will be employers who still have not met their hiring needs at this time. Our first stop is to connect available students with employers who have unfilled positions. You will also be assigned a Co-op coach who will meet with you regularly to discuss your goals and job search strategy until you secure a Co-op position.
If I accept an offer, when will I start my job?
You will probably work the first part of your Co-op during the fall of your junior year. (Typically, the work period extends from around Labor Day through December or mid-January.) You will then return to campus for the spring of your junior year followed by a return to your Co-op employer for the summer. Alternate work terms are possible and are discussed at the Co-op Registration Meeting in the fall. You must work both terms (minimum 28 weeks total) of your Co-op assignment to fulfill the Engineering Co-op requirements.
What are my chances of getting a Co-op job near my home?
Because Co-op employers and their branches are located throughout the country, you could possibly get a Co-op job in your hometown through on-campus recruiting. Consider asking a summer internship employer to hire you as a Co-op. You are also encouraged to talk with a career advisor about conducting a Co-op job search close to home.
How do I make up my fall courses?
The courses that you normally take during the fall of your junior year will be taken during the summer BEFORE you go on Co-op in the fall. Therefore, you will not miss any required courses and will graduate on time with the rest of your class.
How can I obtain verification of my status as a full-time student for my insurance company?
The Office of the University Registrar will provide Certification of Enrollment and Degree Status. Requests can be made on-line.
Can I Co-op in the Spring?
Most majors have the flexibility for you to very easily Co-op in the Spring, rather than the Fall, with a bit of planning. Chemical Engineering, Engineering Physics, and Materials Science & Engineering majors typically do not have this option. All other interested students should discuss the possibility of a Spring Co-op with their academic advisor. A Spring Co-op would typically begin in January or February and last for 28 consecutive weeks until July or August.
Can I study abroad, participate in Co-op, and still graduate in four years?
Each year, a few students take advantage of the opportunity to both study abroad and participate in Co-op. Operations Research & Mechanical Engineering students, in particular, can easily participate in both Co-op & Study Abroad during junior year. Advanced placement credit, major requirements, and summer class availability may affect your options. Talk with Engineering Advising staff during your freshman year to discuss the possibilities.
Find out more about studying abroad.
Can I take a Cornell class for my major requirements while I am away on Co-op?
Cornell does not allow students to be part-time, so Co-ops are not allowed to take Cornell classes while working. You may enroll in a course at another university while on Co-op if you confirm with your advisor that the course will transfer back to Cornell and meet your requirements.
What about financial aid?
Your financial aid package is simply shifted from the fall to summer. Outside scholarships and grants can usually be applied to the summer in place of an academic semester; the Co-op staff can write a letter to your scholarship foundation or sponsor to assist with this process. Co-op is often a great way to reduce the amount of student loans that you have after graduation since you are typically able to apply a portion of your earnings to your tuition. The Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment is located in Day Hall, Room 203. Call (607) 255-5145 to make an appointment or speak with a Financial Aid counselor.
How much will I earn?
According to the latest available figures, average salaries for Co-op vary by major (some are in greater demand than others). Other factors affecting salary include the industry, job location, the number of credit hours you have, etc.