FAQs for Students
When can I participate?
- major in engineering, computer science, math sciences, physics or chemistry; you must be enrolled full time to participate in co-op
- complete first two semesters of degree program
- maintain a 2.5 GPA or above (progress toward engineering standing and academic performance in the most recently completed semester are also considered)
- have time left to work a minimum of three semesters, alternating between school and work
What is the difference between a co-op and an internship?
- We, as well as many other universities east of the Mississippi, understand “Co-op” as a multi-workterm agreement with one employer; traditionally with at least threework terms alternated with school terms, resulting in a 5-year degreeprogram. Co-ops are full-time, paid positions.
- “Internship” is usually a one-time work assignment, often in the summer. Internships can be full- or part-time, paid or unpaid, depending on the employer and the career field. To discuss internship opportunities at UK, please contact the Engineering Career Services Director, Kim Sayre (Kim.Sayre@uky.edu) , at 859-257-3343, or the James W. Stuckert Career Center, 408 Rose Street, at 859-257-2746.
- Please note that not all employers use these terms consistently or with consistent meanings, and some use the term co-op interchangeably with internships.
- When you talk to an employer, especially at the career fair, be clear on what format, alternating semester co-op, or one time internships you are referring to in order to avoid confusion
The first step is to understand the term “Engineering
For UK Engineering:
- “Co-op” is a formal, alternating semester program,requiring special co-op registration procedures for student participants.This is the traditional, academic co-op model in which students work for a total of three, full-time semesters (about four months each)alternated with semesters of study on campus. Many employers hire a pair of students who alternate with one another and are able to cover a full-time position over a period of two years.
- Summer jobs require no formal working agreement with UK. We and the career center engineering liaison post job information to all students via our “engr”email list for each engineering major.*
- Part-time positions require no formal working agreement with UK. We and the career center engineering liaison post job information to all students via our “engr” email list for each engineering major.*
If students wish to seek pass/fail academic credit for summer or part-time work, they may request paperwork from the internship program provided by the Stuckert Career Center by meeting with Kim Sayre in 289 RGAN. This credit may not take the place of required courses; it is additive credit only.
The next step is to contact one of the co-op staff in order to discuss your particular needs.
Ilka Balk 285 RGAN (859) 257-4178
Marsha Phillips 287 RGAN (859) 257-8863
Our program is set up to “fit” the desired format of many corporations in Kentucky and across the country that use co-op as a major recruiting tool. One-third of UK’s eligible engineering and computer science students usually elect to participate in co-op. The company size is not important; the work assignments must, however, complement academic programs and must increase in challenge and responsibility as students progress through work semesters.
How will I be matched with an employer?
Three documents needed for the application process are a signed co-op interest sheet, a resume and a rotation schedule.
Next we email the resume and rotation plans to appropriate, prospective employers (based on your major, interests, and geographic preference.) Employers will select the students they want to interview; interviews may be conducted via a telephone call, at the UK Career Center, or at the company site. We will require you to attend an interview help session in order to prepare you for success. We will also ask that you read several co-op reports written by former co-ops at the companies of interest. This is both informative in making acceptance decisions as well as helpful in getting through the interview.
If you are planning to start rotation spring ’13, we will need the resume and rotation plan complete by mid-September. The Engineering Career Fair will take place Sept 25 in the Grand Ballroom of the Student Center. By then, we would like to have had a chance to assist you with your resume and interviewing skills.
Resume Guidelines and samples
Sample rotation plans
What is my academic status and tuition during work sessions?
Full-time, continuing student status is retained during work semesters through registration in the co-op course, EGR 399.
Tuition (for EGR 399 – 1 credit hour) for the 2012/13 Academic Year:
|59 total hours or less:||432.00 plus $54||893.00 + 54.00|
|60 total hours or more:||444.00 + 54.00||905.00 + 54.00|
This $54 engineering course fee does not include any student services, but does provide you with FULL-TIME STATUS. A $31 additional small student services fee, assessed by the university, will allow you to use the Johnson Rec Center and is included in this total. You may elect to pay a “student activity” fee, which allows you to purchase athletic tickets and use the student health center, but this needs to be stated in writing with the co-op office. If you need to use the student health services (which is not health insurance!), you may elect to pay to pay tuition plus the student health services only.
A co-op staff person must be notified in writing to assess your account should you opt for one of these.
Full-time status through EGR 399 assures:
- continued insurance coverage by parents (if applicable)
- retention of scholarships and financial aid
- retention of financial aid and exemption of student loan pay-back status
Three semesters of co-op assignments will earn 3 hours of EGR 399
which may be used as an upper division supportive elective, except for the computer science department which counts the three hours as a CS elective. If you plan to take the Professional Engineering (PE) Licensure exam, the three tours may count towards practical experience required before taking the exam. The State of Kentucky, however, no longer counts worktime before graduation towards practical experience required to take the PE.
What will I be paid? Can I travel? Can I stay local?
Geographical Distribution of Co-ops: : About 70 percent of our alternating co-op students worked in Kentucky . The rest were in Alabama , California, Tennessee , Texas , Indiana , Ohio, North Carolina , South Carolina , Virginia , Florida, Virginia, Washington (state), and Maryland
The Average co-op salaries (2012/13 Academic Year)
note that for Biosystems no recent data is available. For MNG and MSE, the numbers are based on only 2 or 3 work tours.
Based on two students at one company
Estimated average internship salary
Is adding a year to my degree program worth it?
Is alternating Co-op really worth “adding a year” to my degree program?
- Oddly enough, both alternating co-ops and students who choose not to co-op average five years to graduate. In looking through records from engineering graduation classes for the past five years, we also see a general tendency for GPA’s of co-ops to rise. Those who work part time jeopardize the GPA and take fewer classes per semester. We also discovered that the only students who matriculate the engineering program in four years are those who come in with lots of AP credit – at least 12 to 18 hours. Are employers impressed that a graduate finished in four years? Not if it means they have no work experience.
- All employers look for related work experience. Many use the alternating program as a major recruiting tool. Thus, you will seldom see Toyota, GE, NASA, Messer Construction and others at a UK career fair interviewing new grads. Instead, they will be replenishing their co-op pipeline from which new hires are selected. Does this mean you are entirely shut out from these employers if you have not co-oped with them? Not necessarily. Co-op experience with one company is always valued by other companies. However, your chances are greatly diminished if you have not co-oped at all. Even companies who do not have a co-op program or only have a small co-op program, often hire co-ops who worked at other firms for full-time employment after graduation.
- Summer jobs are great – if you can find them. Availability is based on economic conditions. In summer ’09 and ’10, summer jobs were practically non-existent. In summer ’07 and ’08, they were plentiful. We never know how things will go until April or May. From the employer’s perspective, finding meaningful work for an extra person in the summer can be quite a challenge. On the other hand, the more committed co-op program provides them a year-round employee who can assume more responsibility, self direction and real engineering projects. Obtaining a summer job before graduation can be a gamble. Co-op positions remain more consistent and predictable.
- Employers, not primarily UK Engineering, are the ones who request three rotations. Working three rotations for the same employer allows students to progress to more responsibility and ownership of projects during later work sessions. The first rotation is an introduction to the company and an “assessment” where the employer evaluates the student’s abilities and work ethic in order to match him or her with the right projects. During the second and third rotations, students are in charge of their own projects and even manage other workers. Sometimes, they present their work to company executives, or the project outcome changes the way a company operates, thus having a lasting impact on the company’s successes.