Some students may not be overly bothered about a co-op program. While others invest a good amount of time searching for universities and study programs that offer student co-op programs.
What is a co-op program?
By way of introduction, CO-OP (co-operative education) is very significant for students to have practical experience of what is taught in the classroom. Such programs give students practical exposure in the workplace while they are still running their study program.
According to Wikipedia, a co-op program is a structured method of combining classroom-based education with practical work experience. The main idea of a co-op program is to build them to become employable upon graduation.
Not all schools or field of study requires a co-operative education otherwise known as a co-op. There are some Co-op courses especially stem programs and engineering courses. To get enrolled into any co-op program, first, a student must check if the institution or intending program offers such.
Whatever are your reasons for co-op education, basically, during co-op, students stand to earn academic credits and achieve field-based experiences.
Importance of co-operative learning: Students co-op program helps in the following ways:
- Develop new skills that you could help you excel in the workplace.
- Develop professional behaviour. This is important in any business or workplace setting and is invaluable in your transition from school to the workforce.
- Decide whether you want to continue in the industry. A co-op placement allows you the flexibility to ensure that this is the industry you want to work in, without having to make a long-term commitment.
- Show one’s strengths and weaknesses. During the coop period, a student should be able to point out the areas with deficiencies. You might find that there are some skills required in your industry you need to improve on that you did not learn in the classroom that is valuable to your professional development.
The way forward
The labour market is very competitive. Having some work experience upon completion of your studies is an advantage during employment processes. A labour market is a place with diverse fields but open to those with high potentials. Having a co-op experience on your resume is an easy way to make you stand out from the crowd.
Employers value prior work experience over solely having academic credentials, and most companies will look more favourably upon candidates who have worked in the field before.
You become a much more rounded applicant once you have experience in your respective field, and will give you much more confidence when applying and interviewing for jobs.
A Graduate should have employable skills and doing a co-op placement, it is the perfect opportunity to learn these skills.
CO-OP is an insight into your future. It allows you to test-drive your career and studies. You gain so much work experience along with your studies. It gives you the ample opportunity to work with large organizations, companies, or startups that can help you jumpstart your career. Within this period, you get to know where your weakness and strength lie upon. CO-OP gives you a chance to reconsider, look at other options, or focus on another area of the field that might be of interest.
Because co-op placement exposes you to a practical work environment, taking part in a co-op program gets you some bucks that can be used to foot other bills. That’s to say you get paid for your service.
While some student internships and placements remain unpaid, students who take part in co-op programs are paid for the service they rendered. As this is not a humanitarian job. Also, co-op placements allow you to meet with professionals in the industry.
Networking is an important skill to have, and co-op creates the avenue to interact with professionals in your industry that you otherwise might not have encountered. Because of these networking opportunities, more job offers may present themselves to you.
Is there a difference between an internship and a co-op program?
In some persons, they consider an internship and co-op program to mean the same. No doubt, the main reason for the both is to garner practical knowledge in the field of study, however, the clear difference between internship and co-op program is that students on internship use the opportunity to acquire knowledge paid or unpaid and usually, done for a semester and out of the classroom, while, a co-op program is a classroom and field-based teachings and usually comes with payment.
Students seeking for co-op programs must also understand that some employers may decide not to pay but the student stands a better chance of been offered a job after studies as some of the benefits of enrolling into a co-operative education is to get skills needed in a particular industry and establish a relationship with other colleagues in an organization.
Study abroad enthusiasts should note that co-op programs are not included in every country. Canada, Australia, and Germany are notable countries that offer co-op education.