4 benefits of hiring a co-op student

While cooperative education has a range of proven benefits for college students, hiring a co-op student also provides advantages for employers and businesses.

The University of Cincinnati invented cooperative education more than 100 years ago and continues to innovate all aspects of experience-based learning, including internships, service learning, virtual co-ops, community projects and industry partnerships. Today, UC offers co-ops in nearly every corner of the globe, from co-ops at Fortune 500 companies to trailblazing experiences in places like China, Morocco and South America.

So, what are the benefits of hiring a co-op student? From expanding your talent pool to gaining access to new workers year-round, here are a multitude of ways that employers benefit from hiring co-op students.

  • Develop a pipeline of talent.
  • Provide a cost-effective solution to complete seasonal or special projects, cover gaps, or free up more-experienced personnel for higher-level tasks.
  • Add fresh perspectives, new ideas, and diversity.
  • Provide an opportunity for current employees to take a leadership role.

1. Develop a pipeline of talent

By hiring co-op students, you’re developing a pipeline of talent for years to come. Co-op students typically have three to five co-op “rotations” during their academic career. This provides employers the opportunity to make a connection with a student, and have them return for multiple semesters to build on their knowledge and impact at your company. Rather than onboarding a new intern every semester, you’re able to bring back someone who has experience and can hit the ground running. Although co-op employers are not required or expected to offer full-time jobs after graduation, often the student’s performance and the employer’s hiring needs align, and every year a number of students receive full-time job offers from co-op employers as they approach graduation.

Brianna Karelin, a construction management student, co-oped with Helix Electric in Oakland, California, where she developed a process that saved Helix a significant amount of money. The company quickly offered her a full-time job, which she accepted. Like Brianna, there are thousands of students who make up a built-in talent pool for employers in need of talented workers. When you hire co-op students, you’re not just getting a typical entry-level employee. You’re hiring someone who has already completed over a year of full-time employment in the field.

Co-op students at Atricure in Mason, Ohio.

Co-op student at Atricure in Mason, Ohio/photo/Colleen Kelley

2. Provide a cost-effective solution to complete seasonal or special projects, cover gaps or free up more-experienced personnel for higher-level tasks

Co-op students are available for work throughout the year. The work is paid, full time (at least 35 hours per week) for 15 to 18 weeks at a time, related to the student’s major, supervised and evaluated. Students complete three to five co-op terms, depending on their program requirements, prior to graduation.

So whether you’re looking for workers in the summer or winter, co-op students can be a good option to fulfill your employment needs. UC also offers part-time co-ops and micro co-ops, giving nearly every student the chance to experience the value of cooperative education in some form.

3. Add fresh perspectives, new ideas and diversity

In an ever-evolving world, employers must show they’re willing to innovate and try new things. Experiential learning shows that you’re constantly evolving as a company and learning from younger generations. When companies hire co-op students, they gain access to their creativity, innovation and enthusiasm.

During each co-op term, students complete an online course to help them focus on your academic and professional development. Co-op employers also evaluate their performance, and student must complete their co-op experiences to graduate. When you hire a co-op student, you know you’re working with someone who will be held accountable for their performance, do impressive work and will want to learn in the workplace.

4. Provide an opportunity for current employees to take a leadership role

Hiring co-op students gives your current employees the opportunity to lead and manage new talent. This provides current employees with an opportunity to take a leadership role in supervising and mentoring a student, and allows employers to see management potential in their current employees. It also gives current employees the time to focus on higher-level tasks as co-op students help with other job duties.

Student arranges post-it notes on window

Co-op student at People's Liberty in Cincinnati/photo/Joseph Fuqua II

Tomorrow's talent today

Connect with student talent and technology at UC, Top 5 in the nation for co-op and internships. Whether you’re looking to tap into talent, upskill your workforce, or collaborate on a new venture, our Experience-Based Learning and Career Education team is waiting to hear from you.

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