Success Strategies

Orientation

  • Schedule a start date that works for you and the student.
  • Set aside a specific time for orientation and training.
  • Provide a tour of your facility and introductions to coworkers.
  • Provide an overview of company policies and procedures (for example, dress code, work hours, parking, lunch timeframes, use of social media, cell phones, web, etc.).
  • Explain payroll process.
  • Establish a clear line of communication regarding the student’s supervisor, mentor and other leaders within the department and company.
  • Carefully review the job description and communicate how/when the co-op will be evaluated (Note: Georgia State University requires a midterm evaluation as well as a final evaluation – both of which can be easily completed via Handshake).

Additional Recommendations

  • Communicate with the co-op employee one month prior to her/his start date, letting them know logistical details regarding the start of their co-op.
    • Welcome the student to your company and give a short overview of what he or she can expect on the first day.
    • Give basic information regarding directions, parking, and dress code, etc.
  • Make arrangements in advance for the co-op’s workspace to be ready when they arrive (for example, IT setup, work email, access to necessary shared drives, etc.)
  • Provide regular verbal feedback to the co-op student regarding performance and suggestions for making the most out of the experience.
  • Provide opportunities for the co-op student to communicate and network with co-workers and hear professional histories and stories from members of upper management.

Best Practices

  • Designate a supervisor and mentor.
    • Supervisor – Individual to whom the co-op student will report, from whom they will receive instruction, and who will provide overall professional and technical support.
    • Mentor – Preferably a young professional with whom the student can occasionally go to lunch and talk about the overall experience of building a career in the field.
  • Provide a co-op student manual that includes the above information and any other information you will want students to reference.
  • Create social options for your co-op student, such as opportunities for them to interact with other co-op students and to network with coworkers and upper management.

Feedback and Evaluations

Learning is central to cooperative education, so consistent, constructive feedback, formal and informal, is critical to the development and progress of the cooperative student employee. It is also important in moving the co-op employee forward into increasingly higher levels of responsibility and productivity within your company.

In the field, the supervisor is much like a professor and, as such, the co-op student will be counting on guidance and input. Through informal check-ins and formal evaluations, goals will change to reflect the student's skills, abilities and intentions as well as the supervisor and departmental needs and expectations.

Informal Feedback

Informal feedback can come from the co-op’s supervisor, mentor or co-workers. Periodically checking in with the co-op student offers you the chance to reinforce things that are going well and redirect and educate where there is room for improvement. Keep in mind for younger co-op employees, this may be one of the first professional work environments he or she has worked in, so guidance is important.

Formal Evaluations

  • Georgia State University requires two formal, written evaluations from the student and the employer – at the mid-point and a final evaluation. Both of these can be completed via Handshake (PCN).
  • Both a representative from the student’s academic department as well as a Cooperative Education Coordinator at University Career Services will review formal midpoint and final evaluations.