Frequently Asked Questions
What is Cooperative Education?
Co-op is an opportunity to gain experience and earn credits in an 8-credit program consisting of Co-op I and Co-op II. The seminar, which presents practical, work-related topics, is available in a traditional weekly one-hour, 40 minute class, or entirely online. A coordinator will assist you in finding a 15-20 hour per week supervised placement in your field. It is also possible to use your current position as your co-op work placement.
What is online Co-op?
The online seminar offers busy students a flexible opportunity to participate in Co-op experience. Students complete their assignments using WebCT on their computer. Assignments are posted each week, and students can complete them conveniently from a computer with an Internet connection at home, at work, or at the college.
Why take Co-op?
Students take Co-op to gain workplace experience, to earn elective credits toward graduation, to develop a résumé with a competitive edge, and to clarify their career goals. The purpose of Co-op is to enhance professionalism by employing useful and practical strategies in the workplace.
How do I take the first step?
Students must complete and submit an online application. Next, a coordinator will contact you to determine eligibility.
"It’s not just about getting a résumé ready," explains Marge. "It’s about putting it all together to embark on a whole new future." Marge and her staff provide career planning, internships and job search assistance to approximately 1,200 students a year. Two distinct services are offered by the department: Cooperative Education and Career Placement.
- Cooperative Education
- Career Placement
- Job Locator Directory
- Contact Information
You enroll as a student, start working toward a degree in your field, and voila, your world is one of books, class schedules, and tests, with large doses of everyday life thrown in. The semesters fly by, and the next thing you know you’re faced with the realities of employment—writing the dreaded résumé, selling your skills in a cover letter and seeking out glowing references. At CCRI, there is a department of professionals whose sole purpose is to support CCRI students, not just as they near graduation, but in the years leading up to it. Led by program director Anne Marie Marge, this three person department specializes in helping CCRI students make career decisions, seek on-the-job experience while still in school, prepare winning résumés, hone their interview skills and, finally, locate a job in their field.
The Career and Internship Office services are first introduced to students via a presentation in foundation general education classes. "We let them know we are here, and the services they can tap into," explains Marge. When a student is unsure of their career choice, Cooperative Education works collaboratively with Career Services, an arm of Student Services. Coordinator Camille Numrich provides testing that will determine the students’ interests, personality style and values, and guide them toward potential careers. Numrich adds that the testing also helps students who have chosen a career, but want to better understand the different specialties, trends and demands of the field. Cooperative Education can also help with information about a field such as workforce demand and salary trends.
Cooperative Education helps CCRI students to seek out cooperative education placements or internships while in school. "A co-op placement or internship helps students gain experience in their field to see if they like it, as well as gain contacts and build their résumé," explains Marge. "Personally, I consider it a huge success when a student comes to me and says, ‘I now know I don’t want to do that,’ and switches majors early instead of finishing a program, and then realizing it’s not for them."
Students typically work 15 hours a week, and then participate in a weekly one hour and 40-minute seminar. The seminar is also available online through WebCT. Over half the students choose the Web course. "Online courses give students a lot of flexibility-they don’t need to commit to a class time, and 24/7 they can email the instructor or other students," explains Marge. "It’s also one of the few times you’ll see accounting and early childhood students sharing experiences with criminal justice and computer studies students," adds Marge.
When students near graduation, the department’s career placement services help them prepare for their job search. "Ideally, we like to start working with students a semester before graduation," states Marge. Staff works one-on-one with students to help them prepare their résumés, cover letters and find job prospects. Workshops are available on a variety of topics, and students have access to such resources as online job databases, a career library, workbooks, and other tools. Because generic materials are geared towards four-year programs and degrees, the department has authored workbooks specifically for community college students, explains Marge. The booklets feature tips and sample resumes in a variety of CCRI-specific fields.
One of the department’s most valuable resources is the CCRI Job Locator, an online database of part-time and full time job opportunities and internships. Students can apply directly for the 40 to 100 jobs a month posted to the site by employers in RI and neighboring states. Employers can also log on and post jobs directly to the site.
Marge explains that there are three categories of jobs in the database: 1) employee status—permanent part time or full time position; 2) co-op student—a paid position for the semester; and 3) intern, which usually requires fewer hours, sometimes paid.
The database is coordinated by Pam Forleo in the department, and is used by over 1,000 area companies. To view, go to: http://webfor.ccri.edu/coop/students.cfm. In addition, the Cooperative Education website also includes links to local employers and job search websites, job search tips, resume writing and other tools.
Students should watch for open houses and seminars held throughout the academic year on résumé writing, interviewing skills, salary negotiations, surviving your first year on the job, career transitions and other timely topics. "Our goal is for students to leave CCRI prepared not only to find a job, but to succeed in a career they enjoy," concludes Marge.
In recent semesters, CCRI Co-op students have been placed at the following offices and organizations:
- Office of Attorney General
- Providence Bruins
- RI Governor’s Office
- Rhode Island Public Schools
- St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital
- US Congressional Offices
- Walt Disney World
- WPRI-TV 12
Tonia Fay, EdM, coordinator at Liston/Newport Campuses, classroom presentations, recruitment, job search and resume workshops, one-on-one resume help and job placements, (401) 455-6151, email@example.com
Jonathan Steele, coordinator, Flanagan/Warwick Campuses, (401) 333-7326, firstname.lastname@example.org