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The Engineering Co-Op Program Advantage

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

Guest Blogger: Katharine Marianacci, Lehigh University's Co-Op Director

In today’s competitive and ever-changing job market, hands-on work experience is more important than ever. Any kind of work experience is good, but for many engineering students, Lehigh’s Engineering Co-op Program may be the best. Here are some reasons why.

1. Clarify your career interests

Real-world exposure is the best way to find the right career path for you. The Engineering Co-op Program gives that opportunity to test-drive a potential career path and determine the direction you want to take your future.

2. Earn a competitive salary + 6 elective credits

Co-ops earn an average of $21 per hour. That is a significant amount of money for a college student (at 40 hours a week for 7 to 9 months will equal total pay of $23,520 - $30,240). In addition to pay, co-ops earn a total of 6 elective credits (3 for each co-op rotation). This is unlike other internships for which Lehigh engineering students typically do not receive any academic credit.

3. Build your network of industry contacts

While on co-op, students are surrounded by some of the brightest, most successful people in their respective industries. This provides incredible opportunities to network with professionals who can act as mentors, give career advice, and in the future, serve as potential references and business contacts.

4. Acquire in-depth industry experience beyond a typical internship

Co-ops gain 7 to 9 months of work experience in comparison to a typical 8-12 week internship. Because of this extended duration, co-ops can take on real responsibilities, work on longer-term projects, and make a significant impact at their co-op company.

5. Increase likelihood of a job offer

A national study conducted by the National Commission for Cooperative Education found that approximately 95% of co-op students successfully secured a job by the time of graduation. At Lehigh, many of our co-ops are converted into full-time employees with their co-op company while others successfully leverage their co-op experience for positions elsewhere.

Lehigh’s Engineering Co-Op Program is equally beneficial for employer partners.

1. Gain fresh perspectives and meaningful contributions

Lehigh co-ops are at the top of their class, having engaged in rigorous academics and earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher. They also spend 7 to 9 months working at their co-op company - nearly triple the amount of time that a typical intern spends. As a result, co-ops are uniquely positioned to be a source of innovation and make meaningful contributions to your company.

2. Build your talent pipeline

The Engineering Co-Op Program gives employers a long-term opportunity to observe and develop potential future employees. Lehigh co-ops are also available for full-time conversion after only 4 years of study – an entire year earlier than co-ops at many other institutions. This makes the Lehigh Engineering Co-Op Program extremely valuable, cost effective strategy for recruitment and workforce development.

3. Support the next generation of engineers

By hiring Lehigh co-ops, companies become engaged in the educational process and make a difference in students’ careers and lives. This is not only a good public relation policy but also a personally and professionally rewarding experience for the employers that are involved.

In addition to these incredible benefits, both students and employers receive personalized support from Lehigh’s Co-Op Director throughout the whole process – making it easier than ever for students to land a position and for employers to meet their talent needs.

Click here for an overview of Lehigh’s Engineering Co-Op Program.

Contact Co-Op Director, Katharine Marianacci, at krm617@lehigh.edu for more information.

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