Being on Co-op. Living on Campus.
Since just before the beginning of RIT's spring semester, I have been on co-op with a company just outside Rochester called Crosman. At the plant I am stationed at, they mostly make and ship out airguns and ammo, and they have hired me to completely re-design some of the containers used throughout the industry. I am a third year in Packaging Science, and so far through this co-op I have already discovered that being on co-op while still living on campus is definitely not an easy task. In my opinion, there are easily more pros than cons in a situation such as this, for example, I'm getting paid, there's no homework, I have free weekends, and much less stress compared to the rigorous course load that RIT provides. However, the cons weigh heavily as well with things such as not being able to grab lunch or coffee on campus with friends in the middle of the day, waking up at the crack of dawn every morning and working at a desk practically until the sun goes down, having to commute 35 minutes to and from the office, never being able to sleep till noon some days because you didn't schedule classes until 2pm, and few other things. Don't get me wrong, being on co-op rocks 110%, and the resume building and real-life applicable skills I'm acquiring from being here are unrealistically awesome, but when its midnight on a Tuesday and all of your friends are up watching a movie asking you to come join them, it's definitely not easy having to say no because you've got to get up in 6 hours. And yea, maybe once a week its okay to stay up late with them, but you can't let it turn into a habit. Being on co-op really forces you to be your own parent on a whole new level than just being enrolled in classes does, it forces you to regulate your sleep schedule completely, so much so that even on weekends I don't let myself sleep in too late because I know it will negatively affect my work-week sleep schedule. This is definitely a really exciting time in my life and even more so it's a great half way point between being on co-op out of state and being enrolled in classes on campus. A lot of people look for co-ops in the Rochester area, but from what I've heard its very rare that students actually find them, so I had to jump on this opportunity right from the get-go. It is preparing me perfectly for my next co-op in Kentucky, where I will be working for Toyota for 6 months. I start in May, and I am beyond excited. Not all majors are required to co-op, but it definitely can't hurt. Experience in the field you are studying is a great resume builder and should be taken immediately if the opportunity presents itself; especially if you are given the potential to make money in addition. The co-op program is one of the best things RIT has for its students in my opinion, and I think that everyone should do at least one or two co-ops or internships throughout their college career simply to see if what they think they want to do for the rest of their life really is the same in the working world as it seems in the scholarly world.