Co-op, short for Cooperative Education, is an educational model in which students alternate semesters of academic study with terms of full-time (paid) employment in positions related to their academic and/or career goals. A participant can do 1-2 co-ops for two separate semesters plus summers, gaining up to a year of career experience before graduating.
U of I launched the Co-op Program in summer 2018 in the College of Engineering, with plans to grow the program and eventually make available to all U of I students. To see which majors the program is currently accepting applications from, visit the How to Apply page. Students will start with a co-op program application and workshops that prepare them to successfully apply for and secure a co-op position, along with preparing them for the co-op experience itself. Co-ops typically happen during an extended junior year.
U of I provides a network of support that help you prepare for and get the most from your co-op, including a Faculty Co-op Advisor and a Co-op Coordinator. Your Co-op Coordinator can help guide you through the co-op process and help identify various positions that best match your skills and career interests. Your Faculty Co-op Advisor will support the development of learning objectives and hold meetings with you and your on-site supervisor at the beginning and mid-point of your co-op.
Both during and after completing a co-op assignment, students reflect on their experience. Once back to school, each co-op cohort participates in a Co-op Showcase where students share about their co-op experience with fellow co-op participants, faculty, industry partners, and students. The reflection process also includes a Pre and Post Survey completed by both student and site supervisor.