Cooperative Education FAQ’s

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the co-op program?

The co-op program at Cleveland State is comprised of a variety of courses designed to prepare students for the workplace. Students can receive college credit for up to four semesters working or volunteering in a job related to their career field (Major-related co-op: CPE 1010, 1020, 2010 and 2020). Students can also opt to take a one-semester course focused on work ethics and transitional job skills while working in a non-major related job (Non major-related co-op: CPE 1015 or 2000). Courses not requiring work placements are also available (CPE 1011 and 1012). These courses assist students with resume development, proactive interviewing, job search techniques, and development of strong workplace ethics. Co-op courses are excellent electives and offered in a convenient, independent study format.

If I am already working, may I get credit for my job?

Yes, you may enroll for a co-op class using your current job. If your job is major-related, you may enroll for CPE 1010—Cooperative Education I. CPE 1010 is a 3-credit hour course that requires that you work or volunteer 150 hours/semester in a job related to your major (10 hours/week). You will develop four learning objectives/projects with your employer that will increase your skills and expertise in your career field. A 2-credit hour version is also available requiring only 100 hours/semester (CPE 2100). If your job is not major-related, you may enroll for CPE 2000—Workforce Development if you are working at least 150 hours/semester (3 credit hour course). In a 15-week semester, this means the student would be working at least 10 hours/week. CPE 1015 (2-credit hour course) is available for students working 75 hours/semester in a non major-related job. Students develop four learning objectives with their employer focusing on transitional work skills (skills that are utilized in all job settings) and complete a resume portfolio and a work ethics workbook.

If I am not working, how do I go about getting a co-op placement?

The CSCC Cooperative Education Office works with the academic advisor to ensure the student is ready to co-op and then to assist the student in identifying a placement. Most co-op placements are volunteer situations, but depending on the major and the student’s expertise, some placements may be paid positions. Additionally, students may contact the college’s job placement office to explore paid positions that they can utilize for their co-op placement. To start the process, contact the cooperative education office.

Does co-op have to be a paid position or may I volunteer?

While a paid placement is ideal and some placements may be paid, there are some fields in which it is unrealistic to expect to be paid without obtaining the skills first. In those fields, it is to the student’s benefit to be willing to volunteer for their co-op placement. In return, students will gain on-the-job experience and skills that they can highlight in their resume, qualifying them for a future paid position. They are also developing future references in their career field by building relationships with their site supervisor, the co-op director, and other professionals they will meet in the course of performing their co-op projects. In some cases, the volunteer experience works into a stipend or paid position.

What does Cooperative Education and Workforce Development involve?

Students attend a beginning of the semester information session to learn how to access their syllabus, assignments, and class materials at Online@CSCC. Students use a co-op packet to document their co-op experience. This packet contains a contract that the site supervisor will sign—agreeing to supervise your co-op, giving you an opportunity to learn new skills, and evaluating you at the end of your experience. You will also use this packet to record four learning objectives (projects, training, new skills, certifications, job shadowing, etc.) that you will work to complete during your co-op. In other words, the purpose is to learn new skills in your career field (major-related co-op) or transitional skills (non-major related co-op), in addition to the usual duties of the job. You will record your work hours to document that you completed the required hours in the placement. During your work hours, you will focus on learning and improving your work skills as outlined in your four objectives. Students will also complete a resume portfolio and reflection paper as part of the course. Workshops and course notes are provided to assist students with these assignments.

What are examples of learning objectives?

Learning objectives in the major-related co-op will be in-depth with the students striving to acquire hands-on experience and skills in their career field. These objectives might include knowledge/skill development, specific projects, job shadowing, training, task forces, or problem-solving assignments. New learning objectives are developed for each semester of major-related co-op. Learning objectives in the non-major related co-op course should focus on developing transitional work skills (skills that will be required in any work setting). These skills include coordinating, budgeting, developing, planning, training, selling, keying, writing, communication, time management, customer service, leadership skills, etc.

As an independent study course, how often will I meet with my instructor?

All co-op students are required to attend an information session at the start of the semester to receive their syllabus and course assignments. You will then meet with the instructor during the semester to develop and fine-tune your resume and discuss your learning objectives. The co-op instructor maintains office hours at all three CSCC sites. Students in major-related co-op will contact the instructor to set up a time for the instructor to visit their worksite during the semester. In some cases, a conference call may be set up between the instructor, student and site supervisor instead.

Are there other co-op courses that do not involve a work placement?

Yes, CPE 1011 and CPE 1012 are one-credit hour courses that provide students with valuable career guidance without the work placement requirement. CPE 1011 Job Search Skills guides students through the development of a resume, job interview, and job search methods. CPE 1012 Succeeding on the Job stresses important transitional job skills and the importance of work ethics. Like other co-op courses, CPE 1011 and 1012 are available in independent study format with the student meeting with the instructor occasionally throughout the semester during the instructor’s office hours at any of the three campus sites.

May I sign up for a co-op class without a placement?

Students should not sign up for a co-op class requiring the 150 hour work assignment without already having the job or volunteer placement secured because the work requirement is a critical component of the class. While every effort will be made to help students locate a placement, students should not sign up for co-op without a placement identified. As mentioned earlier, CPE 1011 and 1012 do not include a placement requirement and would be good courses for students who are not currently working or volunteering.

How will a co-op course count?

Several degree programs at the college require a co-op course and a specific course is built into the curriculum for that major. For other students, cooperative education courses are electives and can be applied to the total hours for graduation from Cleveland State. Students should check with their senior institution to determine how co-op courses will transfer into that institution.

Why take a co-op course?

Cooperative education programs have been in existence at most colleges and universities for many years and employers recognize this experience as valuable hands-on training in your field. Often, it is the student’s cooperative education experience that gives the student the edge in the hiring process. Cooperative education is the perfect complement to your academic studies, preparing you with the skills and knowledge for your future career. It is a very important experience to add to your resume. Additionally, it provides students with the opportunity to develop references in their career field. Courses are offered in an independent study format so they are convenient elective courses for students who have many obligations including family, work and college. The co-op director is available for conferences at all three CSCC sites throughout the semester.

What do I do next?

If you have a job or volunteer placement that will provide you with the opportunity to complete a 150 hour/semester work requirement, sign up for CPE 1010 (major related co-op) or CPE 2000 (non-major related co-op). Students who are looking for shorter-term placements should consider CPE 1015 (non-major related co-op) or CPE 2100 (major-related co-op). If you do not have a placement, contact the cooperative education office to schedule an appointment prior to signing up for the course. Contact information is listed at the bottom of this flier. The one-credit hour courses, CPE 1011 & 1012, do not require a work or volunteer placement. Students can sign up for these courses without prior arrangements with the co-op office. Once signing up for any CPE course, students should attend a required co-op information session at the beginning of the semester. See the Information Session Schedule tab of the co-op webpage for a listing of cooperative education information sessions (days/times/locations). Cleveland State is committed to offering a quality cooperative education experience. Approximately 200-300 students participate in co-op courses each year. All co-op students develop a professional resume portfolio as a component of their CPE course.