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O’Brien Center for Student Success

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Co-Op FAQ

What is a Cooperative Education Program?

The Cooperative Education Program provides opportunities for students to gain valuable experience by working in paid jobs related to their field or interests. In addition to preparing for a career, you can earn money for college. Students in science and engineering, business, and liberal arts can all participate in Merrimack’s Co-op Program.

What is the difference between an internship and a co-op?

Both help you explore career possibilities, apply your learning in real work situations, gain relevant job experience, and make great connections. However, co-op positions are paid and often last longer than internships. Internships can be unpaid or paid but are usually “one time only” positions. Although a co-op leads to more in-depth experience, an internship is still a good job experience and can add to your professional, personal, and academic growth. Both co-ops and internships give you a competitive edge when it’s time to look for a full time job or apply to graduate school.

When do co-op students work?

Business, Engineering, and Computer Science majors alternate semesters of school and work. Liberal Arts and Sciences majors are able to work full time during the summer months and/or part time during the school year while still attending classes.

Could a co-op work term last longer than a semester?

The academic/work calendar is broken down into three semesters per year: spring, summer, and fall. Business students, who alternate semesters of work and school, have a choice of working combined summer/fall or spring/summer work terms. Engineering and Computer Science majors may work a double term. Liberal Arts and Sciences students work up to 40 hours during the summer semester and/or a minimum of 150 hours during each semester of the academic year.

Won’t I have to spend more time in college if I become a co-op student?

Not necessarily. Co-op Education offers flexible programs for students in all three academic divisions, and the co-op staff works with each student to design a work schedule that is appropriate for the student’s career goals. For example, Liberal Arts majors can do their co-ops during the summer, while Business majors may choose to work a single academic semester.

Can international students participate in co-op  opportunities?

Yes. An F-1 international student must be enrolled on a full-time basis to be eligible for CPT or OPT and can work as a co-op student. Full-time co-op for international students is limited to one work semester only. International students must contact the Office of International Programs for authorization before working as a co-op student in the United States.

How do I find co-op positions?

The Co-op Office staff will work with you individually to brainstorm different options and create a customized job search plan. The staff actively recruits companies and posts co-op and intern opportunities. Success in finding a position depends on your active participation in the process.

What types of employers do you work with?

We work with all types and sizes of companies, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. If you have a particular interest, we can assist you in a targeted job search.

What salary can I expect to earn?

Engineering and Computer Science majors tend to make between $14-22 per hour. Business majors tend to make between $12-$18 per hour. Liberal Arts and Sciences majors tend to make $10-$15 per hour. Your salary may differ depending on your skills, the type of organization, and how far along you are in school.

When and how can I join a co-op?

During the fall and spring semesters, students can begin the process of joining co-op by scheduling an appointment with a Career Advisor in the O’Brien Center for Student Success located on the second floor of the Sakowich Campus Center. Students must upload their resumes on the Advantage system to search for co-op opportunities in the system. It is important for students considering the co-op program to meet with an advisor during the first month of the semester preceding their targeted work term as there are specific deadlines for participating in the co-op program. 

If I want hands-on experience, are there alternatives to cooperative education?

Yes, we support all types of experiential education. We encourage all students to utilize our services in the O’Brien Center for Student Success.  We can assist you in resume writing, interviewing, job search techniques, and securing volunteer and job shadowing, opportunities. Come in and make an appointment with a Career Advisor.

How important is it to gain work experience before graduation?

 Relevant Job Experience - A Key for Job Search Success