Goodbye Summer Interns, Hello Co-op Students

Author: Robyn Parets | December 15, 2015

Summer is long gone and so is your fabulous intern. You would love to hire another, but you know that most college students can’t commit to a full-time job until the school year is over.

But, you don’t have to wait until the spring to start your summer intern search. You can hire a co-op student right now.

Co-op students are like summer interns except they typically work full-time for six months instead of 10 weeks. They often attend colleges with established co-op programs, also known as cooperative education. Some of the better-known programs are run through Northeastern University in Boston, Drexel University in Philadelphia, Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY, and University of Cincinnati. At Northeastern, for example, students are expected to blend their education with real-time job experience by working at two to three different co-op employers. This means that students typically graduate in five years instead of four, yet they leave college with 12-18 months of job experience under their belts.

Interested in hiring a co-op student to work at your business? Take a look at some of the benefits:

Co-ops can add to your company’s talent pool and become valued employees now and in the future
When you employ a co-op student for six months, you have enough time to train the new hire and give him the chance to take on challenging tasks. This can significantly boost your productivity.

Ben Rubin, CEO of 10% Happier in Boston, has hired two students from Northeastern as developers and designers. Both of them were fabulous additions to 10% Happier, a start-up that created and now markets a meditation and coaching app to help people learn to meditate. The co-op students were an integral part of the team, particularly as they could really sink their teeth into projects.

“We’re a six-person company and when we add a co-op, we are measurably adding to our workforce,” Rubin says.

The Patriot Ledger, a regional newspaper in Quincy, Ma., also partners with Northeastern to hire co-op students in the news and sports departments. The students work as reporters, video editors, and get to dig into meaningful journalism.

“I couldn’t function without them. We need them to produce, and they do,” says Online Editor Ken Johnson.

And, if you are lucky, you may be able to snag your co-op student immediately after he graduates. Take a look at Northeastern’s success rate: 50% of its 2015 graduates received a job offer from one of their previous co-op employers.

Co-op hires are a cost-effective way to meet your human resource needs.
When you partner with a university to hire the best and the brightest, there are no recruitment costs, you don’t have to offer benefits, and you can pay co-op hires as temporary hourly employees instead of putting them on salary.

The Patriot Ledger relies on Northeastern’s co-op advisors to help them find and attract top student talent. Year after year, the paper has worked with exceptional co-ops who help improve productivity at a minimal cost. “We are so happy with the quality of talent,” says Johnson.

Perhaps the best human resources perk: You don’t have to extend health insurance to co-op students. Their schools ensure that they are already covered. On the flipside, you can always choose to extend other low-cost perks to co-ops. For example, you may consider offering co-op students free lunches, a shuttle bus from college areas, or game nights.

Not located near a university with a co-op program? No worries.
College co-op programs help place students in jobs around the country and world. Northeastern co-op students, for example, have worked throughout the United States, as well as in 131 countries on all seven continents. And Rochester Institute of Technology’s co-op program partners with more than 1,900 employers worldwide.

Indeed, as you hustle to attract top talent in a competitive market, a co-op student might be a perfect solution to your company’s hiring needs and become a valued addition to your growing team. Why wait for summer? There’s no time like the present.

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