Students often comment on how beneficial their co-op work terms are when they enter the workforce, but these experiences can also be very advantageous to students’ in-class studies.
“Co-op students add value to a class when they discuss their experiences or ask questions based on their co-op experiences,” says Dr. Lori Kopp (Management).
Dr. Helen Kelley, director of the Master of Science (Management) Program, says students with co-op experience have enhanced her classes in many ways. Kelley recalls a course in which she was addressing the effects of change on an organization. A student who had just returned from a co-op work term with a company implementing a new information system (IS) described how the change affected the entire organization.
“Students can experience the integration of departments through their co-op work terms and realize that decisions are not made in isolation with one area of focus. Implementing a new IS may impact accounting, human resources and/or other departments within the company,” says Kelley.
In another course, Kelley asked a co-op student to make a presentation about his work term experience at the beginning of the semester. Throughout the course, she referred to that presentation to help students relate the theories they were studying to a real-life experience of one of their classmates.
“Students gain a better understanding of the concepts when they have a practical experience they can relate to, and they seem to have a strong connection to other students’ experiences,” says Kelley.
Arts and Science co-op student Jamie Huckabay believes co-op experience is beneficial regardless of students’ fields of study. “I’m participating more in my courses and providing more value to group collaborations by sharing my co-op experiences,” says Huckabay.
Former management co-op student Sean McCracken (BMgt ’06) says, “The work experience makes the theories and concepts more meaningful and, therefore, more memorable because I have a frame of reference in which to understand them.”
Kelley continues to encourage her students to get involved with the co-op program.
“I think the co-op program not only adds value to students’ learning, but it also strengthens the reputation of the U of L Faculty of Management’s programs. When our co-op students go into their job interviews and future careers well prepared due, in part, to their co-op experiences, they make great impressions,” says Kelley.
Lynette LaCroix is the program advancement officer for the Faculty of Management co-op program.
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