Overview of UTC Co-op Program
- History of the co-op program
- Work Schedules
- Student Qualifications
- Student Benefits
- Work Site Visit
- Co-op as a Partnership
Cooperative Education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is an optional part of the University's curricula. Co-op allows students to combine classroom studies with a paid, progressive, pre-professional, hands-on, career-related work experience. It also lets students from all UTC majors gain valuable, practical work experience directly related to their special areas of study. UTC has over 150 students currently working with more than 100 employers locally, regionally, and nationally.
Student definition: "Co-op gives a complete education--people, machines, tools, methods; not just books and numbers!" Alan Raines, Mechanical Engineer
UTC established a centralized co-op program in 1985 with the help of a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The program provides our students with major/career related, paid job experience that helps increase their educational experience and makes them more marketable. Since 1985, over 2000 UTC students have participated in the program and gained important career insights. Many of those students have graduated and remained with their co-op employers. As a matter of fact, we are working with several former co-op students who are in supervisory roles with their employers and are now hiring UTC co-op students.
Co-op: Multiple semester work in a student's major.
The two different co-op work schedules are parallel and alternating co-op.
- Parallel Co-op: Part-time work concurrent with classes.
- Alternating Co-op: Full-time work that alternates semesters of classroom study with the co-op work assignment.
- Internship: Full-time or part-time short term work (a summer, a semester, or less) experience. This work is also related to the student's major.
* Note: A typical alternating co-op schedule will be:
|Senior||work #3||school||school/ graduate|
|Junior||work #3||school||work #4|
- be a UTC student, taking at least 6 semester hours of coursework
- have a minimum 2.5 GPA (2.75 GPA in College of Business Administration)
- have a declared major
- have completed freshman course requirements in your major (many employers require courses beyond the freshman level)
- if a transfer students must have completed one semester at UTC
Students receive a variety of benefits from their co-op experience. Students have a chance to:
- "field-test" their career choices and "fine tune" their career goals;
- work with professionals in their chosen field and begin building a professional network;
- gain exposure to new and exciting trends in industry or businesses;
- increase their marketability upon graduation;
- work with state of the art equipment not available on UTC's campus;
- increase maturity in the subject area and in the work place;
- gain college credit in some UTC departments;
- earn money that will help pay for college expenses.
What is a work site visit?
As a working UTC co-op or intern, you are required to set up a work site visit with your assigned co-op coordinator. You are responsible for finding a time that you and your supervisor can meet with this coordinator.
The work site visit is designed to give students, supervisors, and your coordinator an opportunity to communicate in person. Typically, students will take their coordinator on a tour of the work-site and explain the day-to-day job activities. During the visit, the co-op coordinator will also meet with the student's supervisor to discuss the student's performance, the UTC Co-op Program, and other related issues. This is a chance for the UTC Co-op Office to better understand the work that the co-op and intern students are doing and to ensure that the experience is beneficial to all parties.
Is it a requirement?
The completion of the work site visit is mandatory and may be used in the final satisfactory/unsatisfactory evaluation at the end of the semester or summer.
When does it occur?
These work site visits should take place during the second or third month of your work term. To set up your work site visit, contact your co-op coordinator.
- Complete a file in the Co-op Office.
- Actively participate in your co-op position or internship search.
- Apply only to co-op assignments that are directly related to your major.
- Remain in contact with the Co-op Office throughout all stages, job seeking and working, of the co-op and intern process.
- Be professional both as a job seeker and as a working student.
- Register for co-op work experience before each work period.
- Honor your employer's job offer.
- Submit required work reports and evaluations to the Co-op Office by deadlines. Also, set up a work site visit with your co-op coordinator and supervisor.
- Maintain your GPA.
- Earn the invitation to return for subsequent work assignments.
- Follow all employer and/or co-op policies.
As a partner in the UTC co-op process, our employers are expected to:
- Provide challenging assignments that relate to the student's curriculum and career goals and which provide opportunities for increased responsibility.
- When seeking to fill a co-op or intern position, write a thorough job description and submit it to the Co-op Office.
- Establish job requirements and hours to be worked before the student is hired.
- Identify and appoint an immediate supervisor for the co-op/intern position.
- After hiring decisions are made, provide the student and the UTC Co-op Office with a written offer letter.
- Provide the student with a thorough orientation when they begin working.
- Advise the university coordinator of any concerns or problems regarding the student's work assignment or environment.
- Provide encouragement and offer immediate, constructive feedback to the student.
- At the end of academic semester, complete UTC's formal student evaluation.
In order to make this co-op partnership work between the University, the student and the employer, the UTC Co-op Office will:
- Provide information to employers about UTC's Cooperative Education Program and the variety of ways that an employer may hire a UTC student.
- Help students develop the necessary job search, communication, and interview skills to compete in the job market and counsel them in their career development.
- Discuss co-op/internship opportunities with all qualified students and help the students measure each with the student's career goals.
- Refer all qualified candidates to employers by sending a student recommendation that includes the UTC recommendation form, student's resume, transcript, and company application (if needed).
- Arrange for on-campus interviews (if desired).
- Provide UTC co-op student salary information to interested employers.
- Continue to develop new co-op/intern opportunities for UTC students and work with employers to identify the best UTC students for their co-op positions.