What is COOP?
Coop is the integration of studies and practice through productive work experiences. It’s an educational program that combines classroom studies with paid, productive work experience in a field related to your major or career goals.
What do you mean by productive work experience?
Real jobs with employers who have tasks or projects that need to be done. Since this is a plan offered by the college, the coop or faculty coordinators on campus need to approve positions that they believe will involve real work and will enhance your learning.
What are the primary benefits of the Coop Program?
Students are enthusiastic about the opportunities COOP offers to explore possible careers, to apply what they have learned in school to real work situations, to gain relevant work experience and business contacts that can assist in getting a good job after graduation, and to earn money to help with college and living expenses.
Practical experience, technical knowledge, financial remuneration, confidence, assurance, and better understanding of academics are all benefits of the COOP experience in addition to the academic credits earned by the student. The COOP experience has also immensely benefited graduating students in their job search. Although many students eventually accept permanent employment with their co-op employers, many others find that they have multiple offers to select from; many with a higher than average starting salary.
What kinds of employers or work sites might I find?
A broad range. The COOP office is committed to assuring a practical work experience for each student in his/her field of study. We work with a wide range of companies including public and private, small and large. Some are large multinational corporations, representing a wide scope of career fields such as technology, manufacturing, financial services, sales and communications. Many students work in smaller businesses, gaining important entrepreneurial experience. Others are employed at nonprofit agencies and government offices.
Will I have enough of the skills that employers might expect?
COOP employers realize that students are developing their skills as they continue their education. They plan work levels that are appropriate. At the UPR-RUM you begin in your junior year, so you have already taken courses that are relevant for your professional field.
How do I find out how to write a resume or do an interview?
A COOPcoordinator on campus will assist you. The placement office also offers workshops on job search techniques.
How long will it take to get a job?
First of all, we cannot guarantee anyone a COOP position. It has been our experience, however, that if you sign up for a number of opportunities, there is a very good chance of placement.
If you are interested in only certain industries or certain geographic locations, your job search will become more difficult.
You may be one of those students who interviews for one position, receives an offer from the company, accepts it, and thus completes the interviewing process. Most students find, though, that securing a position is a waiting game. Most offers are tendered towards the end of the term, and many students find themselves deciding between two offers.
Don’t give up! Many students think that because they haven’t heard from a company they are not desirable candidates. That is simply not the case. Employers are extremely busy with varied responsibilities; the COOP program is just one area for many of them. Again, most students will receive offers if they sign up for a number of companies.
How many terms do I work?
The COOP practice period has to be at least a summer and a full semester term, it can also be two full semesters’ terms.
Will this extend my time in college?
The COOP Practice term required can extend your graduation date for at least an extra semester . Keep in mind that the experience obtained by COOP will better equip you for the job you want.
Can I work summers only?
No, we do not have a “summers only” program.
Why would I want to do Coop instead of an internship or just finding my own job during college?
In general, COOP differs from internships because most coop programs are designed to have more than one work practice term, jobs are real and they are paid, and the employer recognizes the student as a true employee while on coop. So, you are developing a resume of progressive responsibility and relevant work experience. As a COOP student, you have a coordinator on campus who provides career exploration and job search information.
COOP differs from other student jobs because COOP positions are approved by the college as relevant to your goals and provide you with new learning opportunities. Some students are able to find their own COOP positions, but these are reviewed by the coordinator to see if they are appropriate.
Finally, COOP graduates are in a stronger position of obtaining a job in their field of study after they graduate because they have the kind of prior, related experience sought by employers.
Do I get a grade or credit for the work experience?
Coop is a learning experience that involves course credit. Each COOP Practice term is worth 3 credits for a total of 9 credits (3 terms). At least one summer. COOP Practice counts towards your free elective requirements and in some departments as technical electives. Remember: the most important benefit of COOPing is not credit, it is the learning process, improved skills and real-world experience you get.
Do I have to stay with one employer?
No, you can go with a different employer for the second practice term. But remember, many employers are interested in the students they believe will stay with the company after graduating. After all, part of the reason many companies or organizations participate in the program is to help identify and train future employees.
Will there be other Coop students working there, too?
It depends on the employer. Smaller businesses are less likely to have other students, but they offer a great opportunity to learn a lot about the company. Many larger companies employ multiple students each term.
Regardless of whether or not there are other students there, our program approves only work positions that will provide productive tasks and supervision for students.
What are the eligibility requirements?
Students must be regular UPRM students, and should not be on term probation. Students must be on their third year of studies. Also, if your department has required coursework (pre-requisites), it must be completed. If you are in doubt regarding your academic status, see the COOP advisor in your department. (Some co-op employers will set a higher GPA requirement.)
Is co-oping mandatory?
No, COOPing is an option for any qualified student.
How do I register with the program?
The COOP office is open from 7:45 a.m. – 11:45 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and located in Stefani #201.
In order to register with the co-op program, an application must be completed and signed by your Department.
Will I lose financial aid by participating in the Co-op Program?
While on practice you are still a full time student of the UPR-RUM. If you are receiving financial aid, it is generally still available to you while on COOP assignments.
If I get an offer, do I have to take it?
No, you do not. However, it is critical to turn down the position in a professional manner. There may come a day when that same company may be of great interest to you. If they’ve had a bad experience with you, it’s possible that they won’t consider you for future employment with them. Some students try to take the easy way out by making something up that is not true, and usually end up hurting the program.
Are all positions paid?
Yes; all positions are paid. Payment is required for all work since students have transportation and meal costs.
What if I accept a position with a company but a better offer comes along?
If you have an offer with a company, you must decline that position before we submit your resume to additional companies. We ask that you consider any job offer very seriously before accepting or rejecting. If you have an offer but are waiting for a possible offer from another company, it is perfectly acceptable to call them to ascertain your status before making a decision.
Once you have made your decision, however, we expect you to consider that a commitment to the company.
What if I accept a job outside of Puerto Rico and need temporary housing?
Accepting a COOP position outside of Puerto Rico is a great way to broaden your horizons. It is a fantastic way for you to see what it¹s like to live in another part of the world for a finite period of time. Most companies will offer some form of housing assistance for those positions. Inquire at the COOP office or ask the company during your interview.
What if I have other questions?
You can visit our office located in the Stefani Building #201. Ask any of the coordinators.
Don’t wait to explore the great learning and earning opportunities.