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Steve Harvath
Director, Cooperative Education
School of Engineering and Computer Science


Steve Harvath
Director, Cooperative Education
School of Engineering and Computer Science

Employer Guidelines

The School of Engineering has put together these guidelines and suggestions for co-op student employers and supervisors.
Prior to student arrival

  • Brainstorm to develop list of projects the student could be helpful with
  • Determine what department(s) and project(s) the student will be assigned to. If available, begin planning specific assignments
  • Assign a Supervisor and/or Mentor: Choose a mentor that will be able to answer technical as well as non-technical questions, as well as possibly help counsel the student on education and/or professional aspirations
  • Does the student need assistance with housing and transportation?
  • Prepare office equipment (phone, computer, workstation) and other office and/or HR related paperwork for the student

The first day of work
Provide student with orientation of:

  • Provide site map (buildings, parking lot, lunch room, business offices)
  • Provide office/building tour
  • Review office equipment (phone, copier room, computer, parking, timecard)
  • Discussion of company and office code of ethics
  • Introduction and discussion of employees and company structure
  • Discussion of professional behavior standards (dress code, work hours)
  • Discussion of how to deal with workplace issues such as harassment
  • Discussion of time management (timecards, breaks, lunch, appointments)
  • Go over expectations of the student, possibly including a job description
  • Provide any necessary safety training

Treat the student like a real employee

  • Encourage them to actively participate in meetings
  • Involve them in company events and activities

Ideas to strengthen the student's experience

  • Introduce and train student on new relevant computer software, if available
  • Provide hands-on training, such as taking the student into the field
  • Provide projects for the students that involve a range of activities including idea generation, design, product conception, manufacturing, testing, and/or quality control
  • Provide opportunities for the student to complete a written and/or oral project and/or presentation.

Examples of skills that students look to gain while on co-op

  • Lab skills
  • Project management skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Self-motivation skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Team-building skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills

Student Development and Evaluations
First week:

  • Discuss the student's short and long-term responsibilities and expectations
  • Discuss the path the student would like to pursue at the company
  • Suggest methods for tracking daily tasks


  • Follow up on student progress
  • Discuss co-op office staff site visit with student

Last week of term:

  • Discuss the industry and work experience with the student
  • Discuss any future opportunities within the company