Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Co-op (But Didn’t Know You Needed to Ask)

What is co-op?

Co-op is short for cooperative learning—it’s a program that combines college credit and work experience. Here at Calhoun Community College, students are offered the opportunity to pursue, with the help of Career Services, employment directly related to their degree plan.

Why should I do that?

Lots of reasons!

  • You’ll earn money. Most co-op positions are paid well above minimum wage, and college works hard to ensure that pay rates for co-op employees are competitive.
  • You’ll gain experience. All work experience is valuable, but co-op experience is special. Having a job in your field of study gives you great chances to build accomplishments that will make your resume that much more appealing to future employers.
  • You’ll learn a lot. Co-op students have mentors at their companies who help them learn. You’ll gain hands-on experience in your discipline, but moreover, you’ll receive coaching on critical soft skills such as attitude, work ethic, communication, and professionalism.

What about benefits like health insurance?

Co-op is by its nature a temporary employment arrangement (although many co-ops work multiple semesters with a single company), and as such, benefits like insurance or a retirement plan are not offered.

Do I get to choose the company, or do they choose me?

It’s a little of both. Co-op applicants have the option to list companies they would like to work for or leave their options open and consider all opportunities that come along. As with any job, applicants are able to turn down positions if they don’t feel like the job is good match for them.

The companies engage in their typical hiring processes and select the applicants that they deem the best fit.

Okay, sign me up. How do I apply?

You’ll find lots of information here: www.calhoun.edu/coop. There’s a FAQs page, a guide to minimum requirements, contact info, and the co-op application.

I see you need a resume to apply. I think my resume focuses on the wrong things/hasn’t been updated since high school/might be terrible. Will a bad resume affect my chances of getting a co-op?

Yes, an outdated, ineffective, poorly proofed, or otherwise lackluster resume can definitely hinder your co-op chances. Co-op employers are the same as any other hiring managers; they want to see polished, professional applications.

Can someone help me with my resume, then?

We can! Make a resume review appointment with us by visiting www.calhoun.edu/careerappt. We’ll give you honest feedback and suggestions to improve your resume.

What if I’m not sure? Is there someone I can talk to who can answer my questions?

Yes! Please contact Career Services at 256-306-2993 or careerservices@calhoun.edu. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have!

I don’t go to Calhoun Community College. Can I still participate in the co-op program?

Our co-op program is only for currently enrolled, degree seeking students. If you are enrolled elsewhere, it’s a great idea to pursue co-op with your home institution. Check and see if they have a co-op program!

I’m an employer and I think I’d like to hire a co-op. Where can I find out more about this program?

Excellent! We always welcome new employer partners, and we work to your schedule to the best of our ability. No need to wait for the start of a new semester to hire a co-op. Please fill out our co-op inquiry form for employers and our office will contact you with more information.

If you think co-op is the right fit for you and you’re ready to join, you can apply here: Calhoun Community College Co-op Application.