group working together

What Is Co-Op?

Columbia State Community College believes students can develop needed skills by engaging in challenging and interesting situations in the workplace. This 'applied learning' can provide opportunities for students to develop their abilities in 'real world' work environments. The Co-Op program is flexible and tailored to meet the aptitudes and career interests of each student.

Co-Op is similar to an independent study course. The student, with assistance from the workplace supervisor and faculty sponsor, establishes learning objectives at the beginning of the Co-Op period. The reports from the workplace supervisor and visits by the faculty sponsor will assure that each student obtains maximum benefit from the program. Successful completion of the Co-Op will allow the earning of college credit for the course. A grade of Pass or No Pass will be determined by the supervisor's recommendation and faculty evaluation of student achievement.

Although there is no guarantee of Co-Op placement, every effort is made to place students. If compensation is involved, the rate of pay is established between the employer and the student. The employer pays wages directly to the student.

To identify potential workforce partners visit the Career Services webpage
For membership directory listings: Area Businesses and Chamber of Commerce Websites
Required Documents
Co-Op Agreement
Co-Op Midterm Evaluation
Co-Op Final Workplace Evaluation

Staff / Faculty Sponsors: Required forms for completion by FACULTY SPONSORS (Instructors and/or Academic Deans) located in Charger Net MyCN under “Faculty & Advisor” TAB  then on right hand side scroll down under “Faculty Documents”

COP 201 through 206 Cooperative Education (1-6 hours)
This course is a practical work experience in an industry or business related to the student’s major field of student. Close communication is maintained between employer and co-op staff (instructor or dean) to ensure maximum benefit to the student. This course should allow students to explore the field in which their vocational interests lie and determine whether it is suitable for them. This course may be used as a general elective upon co-op staff approval. Students will be required to work a minimum of 60 hours for each credit hour earned. Students may repeat co-op courses to maximum total of six credit hours.

COP 201 Cooperative Education   (60 hours minimum)
COP 202 Cooperative Education (120 hours minimum)
COP 203 Cooperative Education (180 hours minimum)
COP 204 Cooperative Education (240 hours minimum)
COP 205 Cooperative Education (300 hours minimum)
COP 206 Cooperative Education (360 hours minimum)

Grading of CO-OP Courses is on a Pass/No Pass Basis.


Must Meet the Following Criteria:

  • Permission of instructor required.
  • A minimum GPA of 2.3
  • Completed 30 semester hours  (not including Learning Support and/or Developmental Studies classes)
  • Permission of your faculty sponsor 
In order to qualify for entry and to continue in the program, students must not engage in conduct that results in college disciplinary sanctions or academic penalties.
Complete these steps:
  • Complete cooperative education application (available in the Academic Division offices and/or administrative offices of the Extended Campus locations)
  • Obtain approval/signature from faculty sponsor
  • Discuss potential placement with faculty sponsor
  • Contact potential employer and schedule interview
  • Notify faculty sponsor of interview results
  • Faculty sponsor will register you in the appropriate co-op course when you have a placement
  • Start early- Registration deadlines for Co-Op courses are the same as for any other course
What Are the Benefits of Co-Op?
  • Gain on the job work experience.
  • Earn college credit in addition to receiving training and/or salary.
  • Explore career options and interests in an actual job situation.
  • Develop key workplace skills such as decision making, problem solving, communications, and teamwork.
  • Apply course concepts/theories in the workplace.
  • Learn workplace skills from experienced employees.
  • Build relationships for future job references.
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Keys To A Successful Intern Program
By Melanie McNary, SPHR
Developing and running a successful intern program involves much more than just calling a school and telling them to send over some intern candidates. Whether you are targeting high school or college students, careful thought, planning, relationship building and preparation are necessary if you want to avoid wasting time and money while realizing the short and long term benefits of being able to “try before you buy” entry-level talent. Here are some of my lessons learned in the course of managing intern programs:
  1. Gain support for the program from your senior leadership. Ensure they understand the value of building this pipeline of talent.
  2. If you are recruiting from out of town, consider budgeting for your interns’ housing expense. Housing can be a deciding factor when an intern is making the decision to accept your internship.
  3. Build relationships with students and establish employment branding across your targeted schools so their career services staff send you the best and brightest talent for your program.
  4. Seventy-five to eighty percent of your interns should be graduating within the next year so you have good availability for full-time hires.
  5. Your intern candidates should know your process and timeline. Create a project plan that includes a timeline for sourcing, manager interviews, offers, background checks. Follow up closely during your process. You can risk losing talented candidates if you let them hang out too long without communication.
  6. Hiring managers should create “Learning Agreements” in advance to ensure your interns have meaningful tasks and projects that contribute to the organizational goals. Menial tasks are a part of all of our jobs but should be limited for your interns.
  7. Ensure interns have an opportunity to meet senior executives and network with other leaders across the company. Bringing interns together weekly over breakfast or lunch for business presentations is a great opportunity. Include a formal orientation with a senior executive welcome and an end of program luncheon with your CEO.
  8. Find opportunities to rotate your interns through different departments for greater exposure and experience. A cross functional project for the intern group would be meaningful.
  9. Partner with local business associations to attend events as a group within the city after hours to showcase your city and allow interns to network with each other.
  10. Create a formal process for obtaining feedback on your program from your interns and hiring managers so you can improve the program each year. Share the feedback from your interns with your hiring managers. Ensure managers give interns feedback on their performance for their development.
  11. Finally, ask your managers to commit to hiring a certain number of interns who perform successfully. If you hire the best and brightest convincing them to plan for hires will be easier. Also, intern candidates will ask how many interns are hired full-time since that will be their goal when they graduate. Interns can be a great source of future talent for your organization. A well-designed and actively managed program can ensure your intern investment pays off, both in the short and long term.
Melanie McNary, SPHR, is a Vice President of Human Resources with Protective Life in Birmingham

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