Engineering Co-operative Education Experience (Co-op)

Co-op is an opportunity for you to advance your knowledge and skills in the context of industry, government, and society. Through a co-operative education experience, you will be empowered to create a career plan that will enable you to make well-informed choices for lifelong career success.

 

Young professionals communing

Professional Development 

Co-op is an educational experience that enables you to:

  • combine academic knowledge with industry experience
  • clarify your academic interests
  • test your career interests and goals
  • experience adjusting to a new locale and work environment
  • earn a salary

You apply classroom knowledge to work situations, converting theory to practice, while learning information and gaining skills to enhance future coursework.

2020-2021 Work Terms

If you are interested in or have received an offer for a Spring 2021 opportunity please contact us.

Due to a number of administrative processes necessary to change your registration status to “in absentia,” to ensure your Spring tuition bill is accurate, and to achieve at least the minimum number of work weeks for the Spring term, it is critical for you to meet the following due dates to participate in the Co-op Program this Spring.

Jan 15th: Due date for completed petition to participate in a spring semester co-op.
Jan 22nd: Due date for completed acceptance paperwork. An employer must be secured to do acceptance paperwork.

Consider a leave of absence if you can not make these due dates.

2021-2022 Work Terms

Student Eligibility- to participate in a co-operative education experience, a student must:

  • be an undergraduate
  • have completed at least two semesters by the start of the work term
  • be affiliated with an engineering major by the start of the work term
  • be in good academic standing with their engineering major and College by the start of work term
  • have at least one undergraduate semester (fall or spring semester) remaining following the work experience

The work experience must be:

  • engineering-related work
  • paid 
  • full-time (37.5+ hours/week)
  • the duration of a fall or spring semester
  • occur during a fall or spring semester
  • with an employer in a co-operative experience agreement with Cornell

How Co-op Works:

  1. If you're interested in a 2021-2022 work experience, join the Co-op list serv. 

    Send a plain text email message to: engr-coop-jobs-l-request@cornell.edu. In the Subject line of the message, type the single word: join. Leave the body of the message blank. 
  2. Make sure you have completed the On-Campus Recruiting tutorial, have set up your Handshake account, have updated and had your résumé reviewed, and have completed a practice interview.

  3. We will periodically send you announcements about available co-ops and connecting with interested employers. The majority of the jobs listed in these messages will be posted in Handshake-to locate the jobs posted in Handshake, you can search on job title or employer in the Handshake system. Should we become aware of other positions which are not posted in Handshake, we will list them separately in the message.

    • When applying to jobs in Handshake, be sure to follow the application instructions carefully. For some jobs, you will be redirected to an outside URL for application....this may be instead of, OR, in addition to applying through the Handshake system.

    • You should regularly search Handshake, company websites, and career websites for positions of interest as well. 

  4. Talk with your advisor or Major Coordinator about your academic plans to understand the best timing for you to take a semester off to work based on your course progress. In many cases, taking a semester off to work will result in a delayed graduation.

  5. Some majors may offer summer coursework that you may take to accommodate taking a semester off and still graduating within four years. Discuss available summer coursework with your major department. 

  6. When you receive a job offer from an employer, contact the Engineering Career Center to discuss the offer. If you decide to accept it, you will need to complete Co-op Acceptance paperwork with the Engineering Career Center to be officially enrolled in a co-operative education experience for a fall or spring semester.

  7. Then you will work a fall or spring semester (or both depending on your academic plans and employer needs). While you are working, you are enrolled "in absentia" and do not pay tuition for the semester. There is only a $15.00 fee to be enrolled in absentia.

  8. Finally, you will return to campus and complete your remaining coursework.

How is Co-op Different from an Internship?

Co-operative education experiences are typically longer than a summer internship. As on-boarding and training can take a few weeks depending on the organization, longer work terms create the opportunity for students to experience more substantive projects. Students report finding added satisfaction in the more involved projects and learning more about the industry.

Employers appreciate longer work terms because students are able to work on projects more independently after training. On a résumé, the longer work terms reflect a higher level of responsibility and greater industry experience.

 

Interested?

Students who are interested exploring co-op are encouraged to contact the Engineering Career Center for more information at engr_coop@cornell.edu.

All students participating in co-op are required to complete an on-campus recruiting (OCR) tutorial. Please go to the Cornell Career Services website to locate and complete the tutorial.

Employers can find out more at our Industry Partners page.

 

Diana Chu

Being able to work at a heart valve startup and learn about the culture that comes with that specific line of work was amazing. It has broadened my perceived options for my career.

— Diana Chu '19, Mechanical Engineer, Cephea Valve Technologies

Frequently Asked Co-op Questions

Below are questions that are frequently asked about co-operative education experiences.

What are the eligibility requirements for Co-op?

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Student Eligibility: to participate in a co-operative education experience, a student must

  • be an undergraduate
  • have completed at least two semesters by the start of the work term
  • be affiliated with an engineering major by the start of the work term
  • be in good academic standing with their engineering major and College at start of work term
  • have undergraduate coursework remaining following the work experience
  • have a signed co-operative education agreement (this form will be provided by ECC with acceptance agreement forms, and must be signed by employer representative and student)

Co-operative Education Experience Criteria: the work experience must be:

  • Engineering-related work
  • Paid
  • Full-time (37.5+ hours/week)
  • The duration of a fall or spring semester
  • Occur during a fall or spring semester

Contact the Engineering Career Center staff before accepting a co-op position to confirm that you and the work experience are eligible.

 

How do I find a co-op?

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Many co-op positions are posted in Handshake. You should join our list serv and include your résumé in any available résumé books we make available for co-op in Handshake. In general, employers post co-op positions year-round. Typically, employers hiring for the spring semester will recruit through early and mid-fall. Employers hiring for the fall semester typically recruit through the spring semester. In both cases, there are often last minute opportunities as companies solidify their business needs. A small number of employers recruit a year in advance. You are encouraged to utilize additional resources as you search for co-op jobs, and we can discuss these with you at information sessions and in advising meetings.

If you would like to receive periodic co-op job list emails you may send a plain text message with the single word, 'join' in the subject line (leave the body of the message blank) to engr-coop-jobs-l-request@cornell.edu.

May I apply to internships too?

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You are able to consider other options, such as research and summer internships, as you explore and apply to co-op opportunities.

May I use CPT if I am an international student?

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International students benefit from cooperative education experiences by utilizing Curricular Practical Training (CPT) rather than Optional Practical Training (OPT). 

Look for job postings in which the Work Authorization Requirements field states, "US work authorization is required but the employer is accepting OPT/CPT candidates," or "US work authorization is required but the employer is willing to sponsor candidates."

If you are an international student who is unfamiliar with work authorization requirements in the US, the Office of Global Learning offers regular workshops on the topic.
 

What do I need to do while on Co-op?

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Co-op is an undergraduate career exploration tool and experience where students put into practice what they have learned in class, then return return to Cornell and apply what they learned during the work experience toward their education. 

While on co-op, students are required to submit the following:

  • Early Work Term Modules (first two weeks of co-op work term):
    • Contact Information Form
    • Student/Employer Expectations Agreement
    • Learning Outcomes (i.e. setting learning goals for the work term)
  • Mid-Term Assessment (about six week into the semester work term)
  • End-of-Term Reflection Activities:
    • Work Experience Evaluation
    • Learning Outcomes Evaluation
    • Job Summary
    • Assessment of Performance
  • Workshops for Success: Workshops for Success (WFS) are designed to prepare you for your co-op experience in a professional workplace. In order to successfully meet co-op requirements, you must complete four Workshops for Success- ideally before the start of your co-op, and no later than the end of the work term. Topics relate to the NACE Career Readiness Competencies.

After accepting an approved co-op position with the Engineering Career Center, students are added to a Canvas course for the co-op work term(s), where the assignments can be accessed.

How much will I be paid?

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In 2018-2019, the average co-op salary was $4,198/month and the median was $3,900/month. More financial and salary information is available.

 

 

Where will I live during my work term?

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In a survey of Class of 2019 co-op students, about half of the survey respondents reported receiving some sort of compensation for housing. Some employers offer subsidized housing or housing stipends to assist students with the relocation.

Co-op students utilize a variety of options to secure housing. Some include:

  • Rental agencies
  • Local college on-campus housing (more availability in the summer)
  • Local college Facebook sublet groups
  • Web searches for sublets or short-term leases
  • Air BnB
  • Live at home
  • Spring 2021: On-Campus Housing (see below)

Obviously, the live at home option works best for someone who does a co-op job search focused on a specific geographic region. 

Recruiters typically can provide guidance regarding housing options in their community.

Given the variety of employer locations, our office is unable to advise you regarding housing options. However, if a former co-op student has worked at a location, we can put you in touch with each other. We have copies of work summaries completed by former co-op students that you may review. Reaching out to Cornellians in specific locations has also been useful for students.

Spring 2021: On-Campus Housing* For students with an existing contract for on-campus housing who officially enroll in the co-op program and secure a remote co-op, the Housing and Residence Life office can permit continuing the housing contract for Spring 2021. If you have a contract with Housing and Residence Life, will be working remotely, and continuing to stay in your on-campus housing during your co-op, you must notify ECC when you accept your offer for co-op.

Otherwise, if you have an on-campus housing contract, the housing office will release you from your on-campus housing contract when you notify them. For a fall co-op, the housing office recommends that you notify them by July 1; for a spring co-op, notify them by Dec. 1.

*If you have not yet secured a co-op but are applying for positions that require relocation, the Housing and Residence Life office encourages you to consider removing all of your belongings when you leave at Thanksgiving Break. In a scenario where you accept a Spring 2021 co-op over winter break but your belongings are still in your room, it will be very difficult for you to re-enter the halls during the break period, especially with the updated (and perhaps updating) travel protocols and testing requirements. The Housing and Residence Life office can't cancel a housing assignment when a student has belongings in the room as the student is still occupying the room.

If you and a friend have different semesters away from campus due to co-op or study abroad, it's a great strategy to share an off-campus apartment for the opposite terms.

 

Are remote work experiences permitted?

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Due to COVID-19, we will approve remote work experiences. 

Can I take classes while on co-op?

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Since students on co-op are registered in absentia during their fall or spring co-op, it is not possible to simultaneously be enrolled in any Cornell classes- even online or asynchronous courses. Some co-op students in the past have received pre-approval for transfer credit for 1-2 classes taken part time from another university while on co-op. Contact Engineering Advising for more information about transfer credit. Since you will be a full-time employee while participating in co-op, it is important to focus on your work experience and ensure that the transfer courses do not distract or take time away from your work. It is also critical to not enroll in more than 11 transfer credits during the fall or spring semester term as being registered in 12+ credits would make you a full-time student at another institution and have potential financial aid implications.

Can I do a part-time co-op?

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When you are registered in absentia through the Co-op office, it is as a fully registered student who is working a full-time position. You can not do a part-time co-op and be registered in absentia. Part-time positions are not eligible to participate in co-operative education experiences through our office. If you have a part-time position, you might explore either a leave of absence or talking with an academic advisor about how to manage your course load and part-time work.

 

Where will I live in Ithaca after my work term?

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On-Campus Housing: During your co-op work term, call the Housing Office in RPCC (607-255-5368) to apply for on-campus housing for when you return. You will then be placed on a waiting list for on-campus housing that becomes available.

Sublet: Some students lease an apartment for the entire academic year (usually June-June), and sublet the apartment for the time that they will be away. Other students choose to sublet someone else’s apartment for the semester they will be on-campus. 

Off-Campus Housing:

Use due diligence in evaluating options virtually. Be very careful about simply sending money to strangers online. Don’t forget to return to the site periodically to see if anyone has responded to your message, as some sites give people the option to either respond to the message within the forum, or to e-mail you directly.