Biology major Lena King, S’15, went on co-op with Best Bees Company.
Our co-op program, founded a century ago, is one of the largest and most innovative in the world. Co-op is a distinctive form of experiential education in which students alternate periods of academic study with six-month periods of work experience in their field(s) of interest. Each year, six-month co-op assignments begin at the beginning of January and, again, at the beginning of July. In most programs, co-op is full-time, paid employment related to the student’s interests and/or career goals. Students on co-op develop professional skills, meet valuable contacts, and explore one or more career paths.
Attending school for either four or five years, students gain up to 18 months of professional experience related to their major or career interest with any of more than 2,000 employers across the United States and in 69 countries around the world. The cooperative education learning model is composed of three parts: preparation (co-op preparation course), activity (co-op), and reflection
Study and research in the sciences increasingly crosses two or more disciplines, and our co-op opportunities within these areas are correspondingly interdisciplinary. In the biological sciences, you’ll find co-op positions with world-renowned health care institutions as well as neighborhood health clinics, and with multinational biotechnology companies as well as nonprofit research labs.
The co-op program offers students opportunities to:
- Gain skills and experience that make them sought after employees
- Explore jobs in the public and private sectors
- Clarify short and long term professional, academic, and personal goals
- Integrate classroom and workplace learning
- Develop relationships with mentors and peers
- The cooperative education learning model is composed of three parts: preparation (co-op preparation course), activity (co-op), and reflection.
Spring Co-op Starts
Spring Co-op Ends
Fall Co-op Starts
Fall Co-op Ends
*Start/end dates are approximate. Official start dates will be determined by the employer.
Students are supported by their Co-op Coordinator throughout the co-op process. Coordinators are assigned by discipline. Students first meet their Co-op Coordinator in the Co-op Preparation Course, a course offered, depending on major, either in freshman or sophomore year. A student’s progression to the next step of the co-op job search is contingent on the student’s final passing grade for the course. The course focuses on learning about careers and researching companies, developing professional resumes, and preparing for interviews. Students are eligible to begin their first co-op in the spring semester of their sophomore year. Transfer students are eligible to start co-op after completing at least one academic semester at NU.
In addition, Co-op Coordinators meet with each student individually prior to the co-op job search. This meeting provides an opportunity to discuss the student’s interests and goals, improve and finalize the resume, and address job-search strategies. Coordinators also will share information about important dates for workshops, orientations, and resume deadlines.
Reflection and Evaluation
A co-op rotation is considered six months of employment. In some circumstances, the placement may be four months of employment. Students will work full time and receive compensation for their contribution. Students are considered employees of the hiring institution and adhere to all organizational policies. Employers are free to choose the students they want to interview and to hire the most suitable candidate for the position. While on co-op, students are considered active full time students and continue to receive University benefits.
There are several types of co-ops available including:
- Student-developed positions: students who find their own jobs must submit documentation and contact information to their co-op faculty coordinator for approval.
- Unpaid part-time employment: often the best way for students to gain experience and develop contacts and mentors in fields such as the arts and entertainment industry. And,
- Experiential projects: proposals for experiential projects are considered individually and are must be approved and assessed by the faculty coordinator.
To complete your co-op experience, you and your employer must complete evaluations that are provided electronically by Northeastern. Upon returning to campus, students must also participate in reflection activities with their Co-op Coordinator and peers. The reflection process maximizes your co-op experience by integrating the experience back into the classroom. Reflection activities are determined by your Coordinator, however, past activities have included: Co-op Expo, Poster Presentation, Reflection Paper, Coolest Co-op Video Competition, Reflection Meeting (Individual or Group).
Students who fully and successfully participate in co-op receive eighteen semester-hours of Experiential Learning Credit (ELC) for each six-month co-op experience. Awarding this credit indicates the value of the co-op learning experience and enhances your future career opportunities.
Check out where our students are currently on co-op using this map. Tap a marker to find out information about the student and their position.