Q: Why do I have to add a full year to my graduation?
A: In order to fully immerse yourself in a work environment, you need to be able to work full time for extended work terms. Most employers have mentioned that by the time they get a student up and running, they have to return to school. Employers have expressed a preference for Co-op students because they can typically combine a spring or fall work term with a summer work term to complete a 7-8 month Co-op rotation.
Q: Am I still considered a full time student when I Co-op? Can I live on campus and be involved in activities?
A: Yes you are still considered a full time student. Once you have been extended and accept your Co-op offer, you then register for a Special Studies (SS) class that is a Pass/Fail, non-credit class. Co-op students are able to live on or off campus (at their expense) while they Co-op and remain on the meal plan if they choose. Numerous Co-op students remain active in student organizations, associations, and Greek life while they Co-op.
Q: What happens to my scholarships and financial aid while I Co-op?
A: The CEL notifies Financial Aid to defer your scholarships and financial aid during your Co-op term. If you are awarded a 4 year scholarship or financial aid, those monies are not available for use while you Co-op since you will be working full time and not taking classes.
Q: Isn’t it too early to start thinking about a job?
A: Most students will start their Co-op term the summer after their Sophomore year. However, companies come to campus the Fall of their Sophomore year to recruit for that following summer. Students use their First Year at the Lyle School of Engineering to prepare as they compete for Co-op positions. Students are required to work on their resumes, go through mock interviews and company research, and encouraged to become involved in on campus organizations to increase their leadership skills.
Q: Am I expected to work for one employer for all of my Co-op terms?
A: The goal of Co-op is to get you exposure and experience so you can figure out what you want and don’t want to do when you graduate. If you like your Co-op company and they are open to you returning then an invitation is extended. If you prefer to look for a different Co-op company, the Center for Engineering Leadership (CEL) will work with you to identify another Co-op opportunity.
Q: You mentioned competing. What does that mean?
A: It is a competitive market and most engineering students come out of school with some form of experience. Co-op candidates are not guaranteed positions but have to compete for open Co-op positions against local and national talent. The CEL arranges Technology Fairs such as Engineering Connections and Employer Information Sessions, but ultimately, students have to be fully committed to the process in order to secure a Co-op position.
Q: Where do I start?
A: Attend Co-op Orientation your First Year at SMU or arrange for a meeting by emailing email@example.com