High Tech with a Human Touch
ProTrack Engineering Co-op at Florida Tech
Information for Employers
The Florida Institute of Technology ProTrack Engineering Co-op not only benefits our career-minded students. Partnering with Florida Tech as one of our co-op employers can be of great value to your local, national or international corporation as well, potentially resulting in lower labor and recruitment costs, improved employee retention, and surprising innovation.
What is Cooperative Education?
Co-op is the integration of classroom theory with applied learning in appropriate fields of business, industry, government, social services and the professions based on the following criteria:
- the work situation is developed and/or approved by the educational institution as a suitable learning situation;
- the co-op student is engaged in productive and challenging work rather than merely observing;
- the student receives fair compensation for the work performed;
- the co-op student’s progress on the job is monitored by the educational institution and is evaluated by the employer; and
- the total work experience comprises a clearly identified proportion of time spent in the academic degree program.
How ProTrack Co-op Differs from Internships and Summer Employment
Florida Tech Co-op differs from internships or conventional summer employment in the following ways:
- co-op students historically perform better since employer evaluation documents form part of the university’s bachelor of science degree requirements
- co-op students are available to employers year round, not just part-time or during summer breaks, as a result of the three recurring four-month employment cycles
- co-op students attend an orientation course before their first employment experience
- co-op students are required to write reports describing each co-op experience, which may be of value to the employer
- co-op students are considered full-time students while in employment and are governed by policies and procedures established by the university
Employer Benefits Explained
Employers participate in co-op for various reasons, but employers serious about making a long-term investment through their cooperative education relationships do so for the following advantages:
- Lower labor costs: Fringe benefits often consume 25 to 35 percent of personnel costs. These costs can be minimized by utilizing co-op students in appropriate positions.
- Improved employee retention and lower recruitment costs: When hired after graduation, co-op students generally remain with initial employers longer than traditional new hires. Job expectations of co-op students are more realistic because of exposure to the real work environment. A survey of 250 companies by University of Cincinnati and Mead Corporation showed “The median organization in the report shows co-ops to be 73% more cost effective over the first 21 months of full-time employment, saving more than $24,000 per graduate co-op hire.” Knowledge gained by co-op students during their work periods enable them to begin at a higher level of responsibility and productivity than inexperienced graduates.
- A source of innovation: Frequently, because of their professional innocence, co-ops bring enthusiasm, perspectives and suggestions that lead to significant contributions to the employer’s ongoing missions.
- An opportunity to become involved with Florida Institute of Technology in the educational process: The interaction between the university and employer can lead to consulting opportunities, collaborative research projects, course development, and training. In general, an opportunity exists for building good public relations for mutual benefit and actually making a significant contribution to the co-op student’s education.
Establishing a Florida Tech ProTrack Partnership
Once the decision has been made to open a Florida Tech ProTrack Partnership, a number of steps are recommended to ensure the program’s success:
- a job description should be created for each co-op employment session, and each co-op session should be progressively more complex for returning students. The main purposes for co-op job descriptions are to develop guidelines, avoid incorrect assumptions, and encourage productivity.
- special care should be devoted to setting salaries for co-op students. The first session salary should be as high as possible to attract quality applicants; however, leave room to increase wages commensurate with job description and responsibilities developed for subsequent co-op employment sessions. While determining salaries, employers should remember co-op graduates nationwide historically begin at a higher salary than non-experienced graduates.
- select and develop skilled work supervisors. These people are critical and essential components of a successful co-op partnership. A co-op student should receive guidance and feedback at regular intervals to ensure that the individual is working to the employer’s expectations.
- handle fringe benefits in the same manner as for other temporary full-time employees. Determine policies for paid holidays, accrued seniority during co-op sessions, travel expenses, and relocation and short term housing assistance.
- work closely with your ProTrack Co-op coordinator. Besides being your campus contact, it is customary for your coordinator to visit you periodically to discuss student performance, developing and maintaining quality co-op opportunities, and other pertinent co-op matters.