Co-op Best Practices > Suggestions for Employers - Get Your Co-op Students Working for You!

Suggestions for Employers - Get Your Co-op Students Working for You!

posted on October 1, 1996

Having chosen a talented and energetic Co-op student, you may wish to consider the following ideas to ensure a productive experience for both you and your student.

Students in Co-op are:

  • High achievers
  • Looking for a challenge and an opportunity to contribute
  • Trying to fulfill their learning objectives
  • Coming from a different experience pool
  • Eager to apply and refine their academic knowledge in a “real world” situation

Initial orientation suggestions:

  • Arrange for the student to visit before the first day/overlap with the previous co-op student (if applicable)
  • Confirm expectations regarding attire, salary, benefits, overtime pay, starting/ending dates and working hours
  • Ensure that the student has a workstation with the necessary equipment set up
  • Introduce the student to employees with whom the student will be working
  • Identify the students’ supervisor and who will assign work
  • Explain the units’ organizational structure Jointly establish learning objectives to be attained during the work term

Considerations when determining the students’ areas of responsibility:

  • Involve the student in the planning process where possible
  • Outline the expected end results and deadlines
  • Suggest contacts for the student
  • Encourage the student to recommend ways of doing assigned projects
  • Discuss the pros and cons of the students’ recommendations
  • Include the student in meetings that relate to the students’ responsibilities/projects
  • Communicate frequently with the student; short weekly meetings or regular E-mail are an excellent idea
  • Explain how and by whom the students’ work will be evaluated

Students want to know what they are doing right and where to improve.  Feedback will motivate the student to do their best, and may be facilitated by the following strategies:

  • Entrust the student with responsibility for their work, yet monitor to ensure that there is enough work to do
  • Schedule periodic reviews to determine the students’ progress and address any concerns early in the work term
  • Measure progress toward learning objectives, identifying skills mastered & those requiring further learning