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Participation in co-ops, internships up 39 percent

Participation in co-ops, internships up 39 percent

SPSU Career Expo

The staff of the Career and Counseling Center reports that the number of SPSU students seeking internships and cooperative education experiences (co-ops) with the university’s partners in the business community is on the rise.

The rate of student participation in these opportunities for work experience rose 39 percent in 2011-12, compared to the 2010-11 academic year, according to Eileen O’Laughlin, assistant director of Career Services. During 2010-11, 351 students participated in co-ops and internships versus 490 in 2011-12.

And the demand is continuing to grow. “We had two large kick-off events for those interested in internships and co-ops, one in fall 2011 and one in spring 2012 – we had to turn people away from the first one,” said O’Laughlin.

She attributes the increase to a combination of things. “Parents are pushing the students more now to seek these opportunities – some parents ask about the prospects for internships and co-ops during the recruitment process. We’re also using different marketing techniques implemented by Jill Forest [associate director of Career Services], and Christi Pichon [employer and career relations coordinator] has been bringing in more employers. And then, there’s word of mouth as student interns and co-op students talk to other students in their majors about their experiences.”

More than 60 companies representing a wide variety of industries attended this month’s Fall Career Expo, many of them seeking interns and co-op students as well as full-time employees. Forest coordinates the Career Expo.

“Employers realize that SPSU students are very skilled and also not as expensive [as hiring new employees],” O’Laughlin noted. Companies like Georgia Power, Cox Communications, ZF Industries, Pond & Company and Norfolk Southern are always looking to us for interns and co-ops.”

O’Laughlin added that the Career and Counseling Center is working on an online orientation module to accommodate non-traditional, distance-learning and any other students who find it hard to attend the traditional daytime orientations for co-ops and internships.