This guide provides essential information about Wentworth Institute of Technology’s Co-op Program and offers comprehensive guidelines for supervisors of Wentworth students participating in the program. The employer’s role is critical in shaping the future of these students. This playbook aims to help you make the most of this partnership.
Wentworth Institute of Technology’s Co-op Program
Wentworth Institute of Technology’s Co-op Program is a fundamental degree requirement for all undergraduate day students. During two different semesters, students work full-time in their chosen field of study, receiving co-op credits and pay following federal labor guidelines.
Since 1975, Cooperative Education has been an integral part of the academic curriculum at Wentworth. The primary objective remains learning, with the worksite serving as the place for students to develop skills, expand knowledge, and test career choices. Employers play a crucial role in instructing, evaluating, and becoming partners in the students’ educational journey.
Benefits to Employers
Participating in the Wentworth Co-op Program provides employers with numerous benefits:
- Access to high-potential STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) individuals for career positions.
- An opportunity to evaluate candidates in your work environment.
- The chance to showcase your organization as an employer of choice.
- Access to qualified and diverse candidates.
- Flexible staffing to meet fluctuating needs.
- Effective use of experienced staff.
- Provides low-risk supervisory experience for your employees.
- Enhanced public relations and branding.
- Brings fresh ideas, high energy, motivation, and productivity.
Set Up Students for Success
To ensure a successful co-op experience, it’s crucial to set up students for success by managing their expectations. Here are key steps to follow:
- Define projects with clear expectations and endpoints.
- Provide challenging and meaningful assignments.
- Ensure variety in work assignments/tasks for different experiences.
- Allow for the progression of responsibility and depth in tasks.
- Give opportunities for students to gain career focus.
- Provide regular feedback, early, frequent, and specific.
- Schedule weekly meetings for guidance and support.
- Explain your organization’s culture and politics.
- Encourage students to network inside and outside your organization.
- Allow students to attend staff meetings and meetings with executives.
- Demonstrate flexibility and promote work-life balance.
- Provide competitive compensation.
- Foster a positive and enjoyable work environment
Objectives for Co-op Student
Students participating in the Co-op Program have several objectives:
- Gain professional experience with current technology while contributing to significant projects.
- Build communication, interpersonal, teamwork, and other essential career skills.
- Connect with people across the company to learn about career opportunities and build a professional network.
Guidelines for the Supervisor
As a supervisor for a co-op student(s), your role is pivotal in shaping their experience. Here are guidelines to help you prepare for and guide your co-op student effectively.
Plan for a successful start by preparing your students:
- Brief your team about the students and the projects you have planned.
- Encourage team members to introduce themselves and make the students feel part of the team.
- Ensure the availability of a workspace and necessary supplies.
- Arrange for a computer, software, e-mail, internet access, and access to shared documents.
- Identify your students’ projects or duties in advance.
- Plan a variety of work activities for the students.
- Set up the students on the payroll.
Provide information about your students’ role and how it relates to the team’s goals. Review the job description and learning objectives submitted by the students to Wentworth Institute of Technology.
When you give your students multiple tasks, explain their priority. Students are accustomed to due dates at school, and they need help making the transition to a less-structured environment. If you provide guidance, your students will do a better job of directing their energy.
Offer orientation information to help your students feel comfortable and competent.
About your Business
- Business in general, products and services, and customers.
- Unit’s mission, goals, objectives, etc.
- How the student’s work relates to goals and makes meaningful contributions.
- Roles and responsivities of other team members.
- Organization/reporting relationships.
- Policies and procedures.
- The importance of ethics.
- Payroll reporting.
- Work hours, breaks, lunch.
- Staff and individual meetings.
- Facilities logistics – restrooms, parking, cafeteria, keys, meeting rooms, supplies, mail.
Review safety protocols for your workspace.
If possible, recruit an appropriate team member to be a mentor. The mentor should be a model member of the group (perhaps a former co-op). Desired mentor characteristics are:
- Accessible, available, approachable.
- Strong interpersonal and problem-solving skills.
- Nonjudgmental, accepting and patient.
- Knowledgeable about the organization and industry.
- Willing to be responsible for student’s growth.
Recognize that the students may find several differences between the academic environment and the workplace. Provide guidance in areas like managing ambiguity, prioritization, and self-direction.
- More ambiguity with assignments.
- Prioritization and time management.
- How their work impacts others’ on the team.
- Assignments aren’t graded.
- Need to be more self-directed, asking for feedback and assignments.
- Fewer peers of similar age.
Help your Students Become a Valuable Contributor to the Team
- Spend extra time with students while they complete assignments.
- Include students in staff/team meetings.
- Invite students to technical reviews.
- Include students in regular team communications.
- Explain how students’ work will contribute to organization’s goals.
- Meet regularly and ask, “What can I do to contribute to your success?”
Additional Advice for Supporting Your Students:
- Schedule regular times to meet with students.
- Talk about taking initiative.
- Make training available.
- Schedule meetings with other team members and key people for knowledge sharing.
Help your students find other effective approaches to develop professionally. Some possibilities are:
- Informational Interviews with team members. Students have found interviewing team members to be a great way to feel comfortable and ready to contribute quickly. Their interviews need only last 15 to 30 minutes and can cover both personal and professional interests.
- Job-shadowing. The students can “shadow” another individual to gain technical skills or to learn about different career options.
Even though your students may recognize the value of developmental alliances, the student may be hesitant to participate unless you encourage them. Most individuals will appreciate your help in the get-acquainted stage.
It’s Important to Manage the Students’ Job Performance:
- Define initial performance expectation and job duties.
- Provide frequent, timely, specific feedback and coaching about specific behaviors.
- Point out activities that will help the students develop.
- Provide increasing responsibility.
- Provide performance feedback.
Near the end of the semester, Wentworth Institute of Technology will send you an on-line assessment for your students. This evaluation should be reviewed with your students prior to the students’ departures. This form is a critical component of the students’ grades and must be completed within the time frame requested on the form.
Thank you for participating in the Wentworth Co-op Program and helping our students achieve their full potential. Your dedication and support make a significant impact on their educational journey and future careers. The Center for Cooperative Education and Career Development is always a resource for employers. We can aid in job description development, recruiting, and guidance to supervisors. Please contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-989-4101.