Students

Thank you for your interest in Cooperative Education, also known as “Co-op”. Please review the FAQs below to learn more about this program. If you need additional information, or would like to speak with a Co-op Coordinator, please call our main office on Central Campus at (704) 330-6217 or contact a Co-op Coordinator at one of our 6 campuses by viewing the “Contact Us” page.

Click here to join our Workplace Learning subgroup on LinkedIn regarding Co-ops/internships, job search tips, and industry trends.

We look forward to helping you put your education to work!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Co-op?

Co-op is a class that you take in order to gain class credit and practical work experience in your program of study. Instead of attending class in a traditional classroom, you learn valuable skills at an employer’s worksite, putting theory into practice. You are supported by a Faculty Coordinator (typically an instructor whom you have had for class) and mentored by an on-the-job supervisor at the employer worksite. Each semester, CPCC partners with numerous businesses and non-profit organizations, who understand the value of Co-op and are eager to work with students.

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How do I get the Co-op process started?

Find out if Co-op is in your program of study, either as an elective or a required course for graduation. To find out, you can do one of the following:

You can also review your program evaluation via the CPCC Login to see if Co-op is listed. Look for the prefix “COE” either as a required course or elective.

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Co-op is a class that I can take in my program of study…what is the next step?

Each program of study has different pre-requisites or eligibility requirements in order for you to take a Co-op class. It is best to check with either the Faculty Coordinator or campus Co-op Coordinator to find out what those requirements are. Generally speaking, you must have completed at least 12 semester hour credits in your program of study and have a 2.5 grade point average (GPA). The program can set higher eligibility requirements if they wish.

You should then complete the Co-op Application  and give this to your Faculty Coordinator for their signed approval. The approved application is then given to the campus Co-op Coordinator. You should make an appointment to discuss the various Co-op opportunities with either your Faculty Coordinator or Co-op Coordinator.

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When should I have Co-op paperwork completed?

As a general guideline it is helpful to have paperwork completed by:

  • July 1st for the Fall Semester
  • October 15th for the Spring Semester
  • April 1st for the Summer Semester

Please see your co-op coordinator to discuss alternative dates if there are extenuating circumstanaces.

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Do I register for an actual class?

Yes, you register for a specific Co-op class that is related to your program of study. The Co-op Coordinator will give you the correct class to register for. You cannot register for Co-op until a worksite has been determined and the block is lifted on the class.

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Why should I take a Co-op class?

Co-op will allow you to gain practical work experience in your field prior to graduating from CPCC. According to a 2010 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), over 80% of employers said “the primary focus of their internship program is to help them recruit entry-level college hires."

In addition to gaining practical work experience, you will be able to network with professionals in your field, develop a professional reference that you can give to potential employers when searching for a job, plus earn college credit at the same time!

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How many credits do I receive for the Co-op class?

Typically, Co-op classes are either 1 or 2 credits, and the available Co-op classes are listed on your program evaluation. Some programs have only a 1-credit or a 2-credit option, but it depends on the program of study.

You would work either 160 hours over the semester in order to complete the 1-credit Co-op class, or work 320 hours in order to complete the 2-credit Co-op class. The number of hours needed for the class is set by state regulations that all community colleges must follow.

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Are Co-op work experiences paid or unpaid?

This is decided by the Co-op employer. The Co-op office encourages employers to pay students whenever possible. In certain programs of study, Co-op must be unpaid, due to licensure reasons. Ask the Faculty Coordinator or campus Co-op Coordinator for details.

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How do I find a Co-op employer?

The best place to start is to discuss this with either the program Faculty Coordinator or campus Co-op Coordinator. The Co-op office receives Co-op positions from employers on a regular basis, and Faculty Coordinators sometimes do as well. You can also find your own Co-op worksite, which would need to be approved by both the Faculty Coordinator and Co-op Coordinator.

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Do I need a resume’ to apply for a Co-op position?

Some employers ask to see a resume, but it depends on the program of study. Ask the campus Co-op Coordinator for details. If you need resume assistance, please contact Career Services.

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Will I have to interview for a Co-op position?

In most cases, you will have to interview for a Co-op position. The Co-op employer picks a student(s) who is the best fit for the office environment. If you need help preparing for an interview, contact Career Services. Generally speaking, you should dress professionally for the interview, arrive 10 minutes early, and have general knowledge on the company or organization. Be prepared to discuss the skills you have acquired at CPCC or other work experience that would be relevant to the Co-op.

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I work at a job that is related to my program of study. Can I use this job as a Co-op?

In certain cases, you can use your existing employer as a Co-op worksite. You must be able to show that new skills/duties are being learned for the Co-op class. Please discuss this with the campus Co-op Coordinator.

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Is there a textbook I have to buy for the Co-op class?

You will be given a workbook for the Co-op class at no cost. In this workbook, you will set goals, record hours worked, and have your work evaluated by your supervisor. The workbook is turned in to the Faculty Coordinator at the end of the semester.

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Will I receive a letter grade for the Co-op class?

Yes, you will receive a letter grade for the Co-op class upon completion of the required hours and after the Co-op workbook is submitted to the Faculty Coordinator.

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Can I take more than one Co-op class?

It depends on the program of study; some programs allow for you to complete more than one semester of Co-op. Please talk to a Co-op Coordinator for more information.

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