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 understand “Co-op” as a multi-work-term agreement usually with the same employer; traditionally with at least three work terms alternated with school terms, resulting in a 5-year degree program. Co-ops are full-time, paid positions, and our co-op employers are prepared to give co-op students increasingly more responsibility with each work term.
- “Internship” is usually a one-time work assignment, often in the summer, but could also be considered a part-time format during the academic semester. 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 Development Office at ENGRCareer@uky.edu, or call Melanie Barber at 859-281-1685.
- 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 Co-op”
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 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.
To join our engineering listserve job announcements, please follow these steps:
- go to http://lists.engr.uky.edu
- pick the major lists you want to be on (bie-jobs, ce-jobs, cs-jobs, EE-Jobs, Compe-Jobs, Chem-jobs, MSE-jobs, me-jobs, mng-jobs, COE-jobs – the latter is all College of Engineering jobs)
- enter your name and e-mail address on the subscription form
These list serves are monitored and require administrator approval to ensure that only UK students and alumni are receiving these announcements.
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 Cindy Edwards in the James W. Stuckert Career Center at 408 Rose Street. This credit may not take the place of required courses; it is additive credit only.
The next step is to contact the co-op staff in order to discuss your particular needs.
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?
Start by visiting Marsha Phillips in RGAN 287 in order to sign a co-op interest sheet and share your preferences with us. Marsha will also ask you to create a profile on Wildcat Career Link, where some, but not all, co-op positions are available for you to apply to. In addition, Marsha will refer your co-op resume to employers directly throughout the semester and until you find the co-op that suits you.
Employers will select the students from the online and e-mail referrals whom 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 ’15, we will need the resume and rotation plan complete by mid-September. The Engineering Career Fair will take place Sept 23 in the Ballroom of the UK Student Center. By then, we would like to have had a chance to assist you with your resume and interviewing skills.
To obtain help with your resume, please contact Melanie Barber or Karen Phillips to perfect your resume, interview skills and your application materials.
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 2013/14 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 mandatory $31 small student services fee, assessed by the university and included in the above total, will allow you to use the Johnson Rec Center. You may elect to pay a full fledged “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, Mississippi, California, Tennessee , Texas , Indiana , Ohio, North Carolina , South Carolina , Virginia , Florida, Virginia, 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 employers such as 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 to ’11, summer jobs were practically non-existent. More recently, summer jobs as well as co-ops were more 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.
How are my scholarships and financial aid handled when participating in co-op?
Most of our co-ops have several types of scholarships: the Singletary, KEES, Governors Scholars – Presidential, National Merit, and Continuing Engineering .
In addition, most co-op participants average $16-18 per hour in salary. That translates into roughly $15,000 per co-op semester (based on 22 weeks of work)
How does all this work out?
Singletary and Presidential , for example, are awarded for eight semesters. The money involved each year changes to keep pace with coverage of full tuition and some additional costs. Should a student be off campus in a co-op position, let’s say for the fall semester of his/her junior year, the full scholarship amount is applied to the student’s account. After paying the one-hour co-op tuition, ($401/413 plus the $54 engineering course fee and $31 in misc student fees – which retains full-time status, mainly for insurance coverage by parents and to maintain eligibility for financial aid, student loans and scholarships) the amount left in the student’s account is direct deposited into the student’s designated checking account (if no direct deposit is set up, the residual amount remains in the student account and will be drawn from the next time fees/tuition is incurred). This money transferred by UK to the student can be set aside and applied to the fifth year’s tuition. The same holds true for the Provost and National Merit Scholarships.
KEES Scholarship money consists of set amounts, as opposed to varying with tuition coverage. This money can be collected for up to eight semesters; however, the student may take five years/10 semesters to use the KEES money. Thus, in the case of a co-op student who is away from campus during, for example, the fall semester of the junior year, an optional request to defer KEES money to the fifth year assures that the senior year is covered. If no request is made, the money is automatically applied to the co-op semester. If a student has a GPA below 3.0, the KEES money will be awarded based on student credit hours, which might require more planning as to when is the most opportune time to collect the KEES funds. Please contact the co-op office to find out more about this.
Engineering students who apply for “Engineering Scholarships” remain eligible is based on GPA please contact Mary-Michael McDonald in 383 Ralph G. Anderson Bldg to find out more about Engineering Scholarships and get advice on KEES money. https://www.engr.uky.edu/scholarships/
- Each curriculum sheet within engineering is a four year plan. However, yearly reviews of average time to obtain the engineering/computer science degree result in 4.8 years. Students who finish in four years are usually the ones with significant AP credit, often 18 hours or more, and who know they are headed to advanced degrees in engineering, medicine, law, etc., as opposed to the job market with the B.S. degree.
- A co-op curriculum sheet for each major within engineering is a five year plan.
In either case, all engineering students need to plan ahead for the possibility of a 9th or 10th semester.
Students approved for financial aid for a given academic year receive payments while on co-op assignments. Earning a co-op salary and working closely with advisors in financial aid, may eliminate the necessity for such aids as loans.