UC Answers: Why should I hire a UC co-op?

Cooperative education benefits students, but it also gives employers several advantages

The University of Cincinnati is regarded as having the best cooperative education program of any public university in the country and No. 3 overall, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The reasons for that are many — after all, UC invented co-op in 1906 and has been pioneering new approaches to work-integrated learning and career education ever since. The Division of Experience-based Learning and Career Education is constantly at work identifying new co-op opportunities for students, as well as preparing students for their first foray into the workforce. 

Students have plenty to gain from co-op — the opportunity to take their classroom learning and put it into practice, a chance to expand their business networks and identify career opportunities for after college, the ability to earn money to fund their education and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to graduate with a diploma in one hand and a resume filled with work experience in the other. 

But what about the companies that hire UC students for co-ops? As it turns out, employers see cooperative education with UC as a symbiotic relationship, one central to their business strategies. 

Why do companies hire UC students for co-op positions? 

The skills gap is real — even as unemployment numbers rise, positions in fields such as information technology remain unfilled for lack of qualified candidates. By becoming co-op employers, companies can begin the process of recruiting skilled workers before they ever hit the open job market. 

“We hire co-ops from the University of Cincinnati because it’s a large part of our hiring strategy,” says Danny Hayes, IT resource manager with the Cincinnati Insurance Companies. “It gives us an opportunity to evaluate the students and whether or not they’re going to be a long-term fit for our organization.”

What are some other benefits of working with UC and its students, from an employer’s standpoint?

“Co-ops bring a fresh perspective to an organization,” says Hayes. “They’re learning new technologies, new skill sets, and they have the ability to come in and provide fresh perspectives to solve business problems.

“I really enjoy working with the Division of Experience-based Learning and Career Education. The mentorship that they provide to the students is invaluable, which ultimately helps us at the Cincinnati Insurance Companies.”

How does having co-op students around affect a company’s full-time employees? 

Students learn by doing through co-op, but they also provide learning opportunities for those around them. Working with co-op students is a big part of the professional development of employees at the Cincinnati Insurance Companies, Hayes says.

“One of the great benefits for the associates is that it provides a mentoring opportunity,” Hayes says. “This helps build their leadership skills and grows the overall organization.” 

Featured image at top: Danny Hayes from Cincinnati Insuarance Companies stands inside UC's 1819 Innovation Hub. photo/Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative + Brand

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