Developing a Successful Co-op

Consider the following when developing your work experience for high school students.

  • Schools should provide employer with set amount of hours necessary for student to attain credit.
  • Decide on compensation for student employees
  • Plan a work schedule and develop appropriate cooperative instructional plans according to the agreed upon timeline.
  • Counsel and direct the student regarding means of improving his/her performance.
  • Provide the student with the necessary work materials and work environment.
  • Abide by all rules and regulations set forth in the cooperative education handbook as well as all labor laws.
  • Follow up with student at the completion of the program regarding their performance and possible next steps within your company.
  • Companies may also be asked to participate in classroom visits, parent information nights, and a selection process to arrange placements for positions

Steps to planning a position

  1. Decide how many positions you can accommodate each quarter. Larger companies may have opportunities to create separate positions that specialize in one area while smaller companies may desire to show a broader overview of the company by giving instruction in a variety of departments. Tip: Consider which areas within your company you feel are most in need of highlighting or are currently underserved.
  2. Plan the curriculum. The goal of the co-op is to provide a variety of tasks so that the student is not allowed to remain in any one job, operation, or phase of the occupation beyond the period of time where such experience is of educational value. 
  3. Determine how much time the student will need to observe, understand and experience each area.
  4. Choose a mentor or multiple mentors to pair the student with. Consider these characteristics when selecting mentors:
    • Enjoys working with young people.
    • Is competent in the area in which the supervisor is expected to train the student.
    • Is open-minded, patient, friendly, and helpful.
    • Will provide a positive outlook on your company and your company’s culture.
  5. Decide what time slots will be available for co-op positions. Will you set specific hours or will you be able to determine hours on a case by case basis according to the students’ schedule?
  6. Submit your curriculum to the co-op coordinator. This description can be organized in a variety of ways:
    • Hourly by task
    • Weekly by department
    • Or a more general description by listing the tasks or departments they will experience.