Co-ops and Internships with Dr. Phil Gardner

Join Dr. Phil Gardner, Director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University to learn the benefits of co-ops and internships. Learn how to get started on your search for these types of experiential learning opportunities, and how the O'Brien Center can help!


The O’Brien Center for Student Success is pleased to host Dr. Philip D. Gardner, Director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University.

Dr. Gardner is a distinguished researcher and international speaker on the transition from college to work, early socialization and career progression in the workplace, workforce readiness, and other areas related to college student studies. MSU’s nationally recognized annual college labor market study is done under his direction each fall. He served as senior editor of the Journal of Cooperative Education and Internships. In the spring of 2009 Dr. Gardner served as a Fulbright specialist to New Zealand on work-integrated learning. Dr. Gardner has been with MSU for 28 years after receiving degrees from Whitman College (BA in Chemistry) and Michigan State University (Ph.D. in Resource & Development Economics/Public Policy).

The Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University was established in 1985 by an act of the Michigan legislature, the Institute was charged with collecting and analyzing information on the initial employment (upon graduation) for the college educated workforce from all four-year institutions within the state. Later two-year graduates from the State’s community college system were included in this responsibility. The Institute’s charge rose from concerns of a “brain drain” during and following the economic recession of the early 1980’s. In line with this work on graduate destinations, research was started on: the socialization experience of new college graduates in the workplace; learning strategies used to enhance workplace performance; impact of co-op and internships on transition outcomes; and recruiter practices, such as use of resumes and behavioral interviewing. A major project which has stimulated discussions and program initiatives is on the acquisition/development of complementary skills and competencies that are required in the work, in addition to disciplinary mastery. This work has evolved into examination of co-curricular activities that support social learning/community of practice.  The research readily identifiable with the Institute is “Recruiting Trends.” Michigan State University, for 30 years, conducts an annual survey of national employers seeking their intentions for hiring new college graduates. This study provides a snapshot of factors influencing the college labor market, as well as in-depth examination of key issues in college recruiting. For more information, visit

Dr. Gardner will host “Conversations with the faculty” on Monday, March 11th, noon-1:30 pm in Murray Lounge, as well as a special student session – open to the entire campus community – on Monday evening, 4-5 pm in the Rogers Center. The O’Brien Center will also host career and student success professionals, representing 18 institutions of higher education in New England on Tuesday, March 12th for a special segment on recruiting trends and hiring projections. 


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