In order to be cleared for co-op, all students must complete the co-op preparation process. Some parts of the process are slightly different depending on your year in school and when you begin, but fundamentally the steps are the same. They consist of:
- The Co-op Preparation course.
- The First Formal Interview.
- Seeking New Assignment Meeting.
- Final Clearance.
Below, each of these steps is described in detail.
Step 1: The Co-op Prep Course
During the co-op preparation course, we will cover the following topics:
- How the co-op cycle works in CCIS.
- How to build an effective “technical” resume.
- How to write an effective cover letter and reference sheet.
- How to prepare for the various kinds of interviews you’ll encounter in the CS/IS field. Professional and ethical behavior in the workplace.
- How to use the Co-op Opportunities Online (COOL) database, networking contacts, and other methods to find a job.
- What employers want, what co-op faculty coordinators expect, and what you’ll get out of the whole process.
In addition, during our student panel you’ll have an opportunity to chat with upperclass students who’ve been on co-op before. We also have an Employer Panel so you can hear all about co-op from the employers themselves.
For Freshmen, there are actually two courses during your first year: CS 1200 (Computer Science Overview 1) during the Fall, and CS 1210 (Computer Science Overview 2) during the Spring. Overview 1 is intended to help you get acclimated to Northeastern, CCIS, and the computer/information science field. In Overview 2 we will devote most of our time to co-op preparation.
For new transfer students who begin school during the Fall semester, you will need to complete your preparation quickly because some of you will begin co-op the summer after your first year. You must take CS 1220 (Co-op Preparation) and finish Steps 2 and 3 below by the end of the Spring semester.
For new transfer students who begin school during the Spring semester, you can take CS 1210 (Computer Science Overview 2) along with the freshmen. Just remember: you’ll probably go on co-op sooner than the will, so you’ll need to finish Steps 2 and 3 below by the end of the Spring semester!
Step 2: The “First Formal Interview”
In this 30-minute one-on-one meeting with your assigned Co-op Faculty Coordinator we will discuss your co-op and career plans, check up on your preparation so far, and perform a brief “mock interview” to test your interviewing skills. The First Formal Interview should ideally be completed by the start of your second year.
Click here for details about the First Formal Interview.
Step 3: Seeking New Assignment Meeting
All students who are planning to seek a new co-op assignment must attend this meeting. We will review professional behavior in the job search and on the job, discuss the current state of the job market, strategies and expectations for the job search, and we will review how to use the COOL database. For students going on their second or third co-op, this meeting will be combined with a Reflection meeting.
Step 4: “Final Clearance”
In this meeting, we will perform the “final check” to make sure you’re ready to go on co-op. Be sure to bring an edited resume for final review, and come ready to talk about your goals for your upcoming co-op. You can only do Final Clearance during the semester before you go on co-op. After Clearance, your job search will officially begin.
Click here for details about the Final Clearance meeting.
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Activity consists of seeking, accepting, and working in a co-op position.
The Job Search
The process of the job search itself is an interactive experience which teaches students necessary skills that will help them in all future job searches. Once you’ve completed Final Clearance, you may then begin job searching. Your resume will be referred out to employers by the co-op faculty based on your skills, employability, and choices. The following are the usual steps of this process:
- Search the database for jobs which interest you. You must sign up by the deadline in order for your resume to be referred out on time.
- Wait. The employers will call or e-mail you for interviews if they’re interested. Be sure your voice mail greetings are appropriately professional, and be prepared to write down interview details. Check your messages and e-mails frequently.
- When you get called for an interview, first decide whether you want to attend the interview. We strongly encourage all students to accept every interview invitation, even if it’s for a job they are not sure they have an interest in, because the employer may be willing to consider the student for other opportunities. If you decide not to accept the invitation, politely decline the employer. If you do accept, verify that you’ll be coming at the expected date and time.
- Before hanging up the phone, be sure to confirm the location of the interview, time, interviewer’s name and if there is anything they would like you to bring.
- Communicate with your Co-op Faculty Coordinator. Keep your coordinator apprised of your progress throughout the job search at least weekly, and more often if there is much activity.
- Bring extra copies of your resume, a list of 3-5 references, and a transcript to the interview, in case the employer requests them. Don’t forget to bring something to jot notes on, an electronic device or pen and paper.
- After the interview, wait again. Be sure to write a thank you email within 24 hours of your interview.
Repeat these steps as many times as necessary. You should also search for jobs through networking and other job searching methods.
As your job search progresses, if you’re not getting interviews or job offers, meet with your Co-op Faculty Coordinator who will help you modify your job search strategies.
Accepting an Offer
If you get a job offer, be sure to gather all necessary information before accepting the position. Always, always, take time to think about it, and if you’d like, talk things through with your Co-op Faculty Coordinator. Per CCIS Co-op policy, you have 5 days to accept an offer from companies that you applied to through your first resume referral. Going forward, you will have three days to accept an offer. Some employers may impose tighter restrictions, If they request immediate answers, discuss this with your coordinator. Be sure that you are clear on the following before accepting an offer:
- Job title and duties
- Manager and office environment
Please keep in mind that ONCE YOU HAVE ACCEPTED AN OFFER, EVEN VERBALLY, YOU CANNOT “RENEG” ON IT! Verbal confirmation is binding.
Once you have accepted the offer:
- Confirm the start date with your employer.
- Notify your Co-op Faculty Coordinator immediately.
- Politely notify other employers that you are no longer available.
- Make sure the Co-op office has record of your job details.
- Start work!
The Activity phase continues once you’ve been offered the job. In addition to gaining technical experience, students on co-op will learn the skills of long-term career management, including:
- How to interact with co-workers and supervisors.
- How to move vertically or laterally within the company to obtain richer experiences.
- How to manage conflict and office politics.
- How to network
Once you begin work, check in to let your coordinator know how things are going. If there are issues or concerns that you aren’t able to resolve with your manager, you should let your coordinator know immediately. You are expected to work until the end date that you and your supervisor agreed upon and any exceptions must be approved by your coordinator. During this period, students are required to complete a Goal Setting activity with their manager. Oftentimes, a Co-op Faculty Coordinator from the CCIS Co-op Team will visit students onsite and meet with their managers. Your Co-op Faculty Coordinator is a resource with whom you can discuss issues and concerns you may encounter while on the job.
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Your last day of work is not the end of your learning. The Reflection stage encourages you to think back on your experience to understand what you’ve learned and to begin applying this knowledge toward your academic study and future career goals.
Students must complete a Student Evaluation through COOL, which evaluates the co-op experience from the student’s perspective. The student’s manager will also complete an Employer Evaluation of the student’s performance on the job.
Reflection Meeting and Reflection Report
Once students return from co-op, they must complete a Reflection Report, which ties in with their Goal Setting from the beginning of their co-op experience. Subsequently, they must attend a reflection meeting. At this meeting, we will discuss the nature of various co-op situations and what you and other students have learned from your co-op experiences, and other relevant issues. Reflection meetings for students planning to get cleared for a future co-op, will attend a joint Reflection and Seeking New Assignment meeting. Seniors or those completing their last co-op, will have a separate Reflection meeting.
Thinking About Returning to Your Previous Co-op Employer?
Students may consider returning to a previous co-op employer if they will grow professionally and increase their technical skills on their next co-op. Students must decide if they will return prior to any new job search. We recommend that students thinking of returning discuss the situation with their coordinator as soon as possible and prior to making a final decision. A deadline date will be announced in each Reflection/Seeking New meeting which will indicate when students need to notify their previous managers and Co-op Faculty Coordinators about their decision.
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