Student Introduction to Co-op

Most college students attend classes September-May and take summers off. This sequence began when the economy was based on agriculture and college students were needed for summer harvest. Historically, many students graduated with agricultural experience but without experience related to their academic studies or career choice.

In 1925 when SMU established the Lyle School of Engineering and Applied Science, the industrial revolution had already changed the face of our country. Improved farming methods greatly reduced the need for students to work on farms during the summer. Factories, offices, and cities became common places of employment.

The Technical Club of Dallas, Texas, a professional association consisting of factory owners and senior partners of engineering firms, saw the need to hire and train more college educated engineers. They asked SMU to establish the Lyle School of Engineering to hire more engineers. Since these companies worked twelve months rather than three, the traditional academic schedule of working during the summers did not meet their needs. Therefore, they asked SMU to include the year-round alternating school and work co-op training program as a required part of each engineering student's curriculum. Today, the fast pace of industry continues to need trained students on a year-round basis.

SMU implemented both requests in 1925. Between 1925 and 1965, all Lyle Engineering students participated in Co-op. Since 1965, Co-op has been an optional part of the curriculum. Today more than one third of the Lyle School of Engineering undergraduate students choose to participate.

About Co-op Employment

  • Paid by the employer
  • Related to an academic major or career choice
  • Full-time, forty hours or more per week of work during alternating semesters
  • Year-round, rotating on an alternating basis between spring, summer, fall
  • Supervised by the employer

SMU's Role

  • Determines student qualifications for SMU's Co-op Program
  • Awards grades to each Co-op student
  • Monitors the quality of Co-op work experience

Co-op Employer's Role

  • Determine which student(s) they hire through the Co-op program
  • Invite students to return for subsequent work terms after the first work term

Co-op Student's Role

  • Complete a full-time schedule of classes at SMU during alternating semesters
  • Follow all policies of the employer and the university
  • Earn an invitation from the employer to return for each subsequent work term by following the employer's policies, meeting or exceeding the employer's expectations for job performance, earning sufficient grades at SMU, and following the SMU Co-op Program policies.

Phase One: Co-op Prep & Resume Editing

  1. Attend Co-op Orientation or one-on-one meeting.
  2. Request PlacePro account from
  3. Visit Hegi Career Center for Resume Development (Contact Janet Lewis at 214-768-3376 or to set up an appointment).
  4. Meet with Academic Advisor to complete a Degree Plan.
  5. Meet with International Office Advisor to speak about Co-op (int'l candidates)
  6. Submit online to PlacePro
    • Co-op Information and Financial Aid Form
    • Co-op Student Agreement and Waiver & Release
    • Resume
    • Degree Plan
    • Transcript (Official or Unofficial)
  7. Immigration forms for int'l candidates
  8. Meet with Associate Director Perez to review paperwork for Acceptance as a School of Engineering Co-op Applicant

Phase Two: Goals and Qualifications

  1. Answer Co-op Questions
    • 11 Co-op Questions
    • Co-op Questions should be approximately 3-4 pages
  2. Meet with Associate Director Perez to review essays and questions.

Phase Three: Job Search & Resume Distribution

  1. Research 5 New Co-op Companies (not currently Co-op partners)
  2. Meet with Associate Director Perez to review companies and their fit
  3. Provide Associate Director Perez with the following information:
    • Company Name
    • Location
    • Contact
    • Description of Products or Services
    • Division in DFW
    • Internship or Co-op Program Information

Phase Four: Interview Prep & Mock Interviews

  1. Conduct Mock Interview(s) in the Hegi Family Career Development Center (Hughes - Trigg)
  2. Re-submit the following documents:
    • Degree Plan
    • Transcript
    • Resume
  3. Resumes sent to appropriate employers
  4. Send Thank You Notes and/or Follow-up Letters to employers after resumes have been sent.

NOTE: Your resume will be submitted to the five companies you researched and others related to your major which you have expressed an interest. Please notify Associate Director Perez if you DO NOT want your resume sent to specific companies.

Phase Five: Interviewing & Accepting Offers

  1. Accept an offer
    • Once you've accepted an offer, you may NOT rescind your acceptance
  2. Register for appropriate Co-op course
    • 1st Term - ss1099
    • 2nd Term - ss2099
    • 3rd Term - ss3099
    • 4th Term - ss4099
    • 5th Term - 225099

NOTE: Registering for the Co-op course will categorize you as part of the SMU Co-op Program. You cannot graduate from SMU if you have an "Incomplete" per University Policy.

Phase Six: Work Experience (Student/Supervisor Evaluations)

  1. Start Work and submit Work-term Objectives and Goals (1st week of work)
  2. Create and present an End of Term Presentation (last week of work) to Supervisor and team (optional)
  3. Complete and submit Student Evaluation (last week of work)
  4. Have Supervisor complete and submit Supervisor Evaluation (last week of work)
  5. Complete End of Work-Term Summary (last week of work)
    • Speak to what you learned through the Co-op, the projects you completed, how you can apply that knowledge in the future, etc.
    • Minimum 1 page, Single-Spaced, Times New Roman, 11pt Font, .5in Margins
  6. Submit Updated Resume (last week of work)
  7. Submit Updated Degree Plan (last week of work)
  8. Meet with Associate Director Perez for Grade Completion

NOTE: All forms should always be loaded in to PlacePro by the student. Evaluations are also completed in PlacePro.