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Co-operative education faqs

Cooperative Education, or co-op, gives students the opportunity to gain meaningful work experience before they graduate. For some students it is a required, for others, it is an option. We strongly encourage students to download a major-specific Co-op Quick Start Guide for more information (links are on right side of this page).

Co-op Defined

Cooperative education at RIT is full-time, paid employment directly related to a student's field of study for a minimum period of 10 weeks (a single quarter) or a minimum period of 20 weeks (2 consecutive quarters or “double-block”).
Co-op begins after students have completed the first two years of coursework in their academic program, in most cases.  Most students alternate quarters of coursework with quarters of co-op during the last three years of their program. A student's academic department determines the co-op/academic schedule. International students need work authorization from RIT International Student Services and cannot co-op until after three consecutive full-time academic quarters of study have been completed.

Cooperative education is a unique kind of education. It is different from summer employment, and different from an internship. Here's why:
• Co-op employment is related to a student's field of study
• Co-op employment is full-time, productive work
• Co-op employment is paid
• Co-op employment increases in complexity and challenge according to academic level
• Co-op employment includes formal evaluation and documentation of performance

Co-op gives students the opportunity to:
• Apply much of the theory students are learning in courses
• Experience a typical work day and focus a career choice
• Earn a reasonable salary which will help students finance their education
• Take a breather away from the "grind" as a student
• Develop additional technical skills and enhance vital personal skills such as judgment, written and oral communication, teamwork
• Make contacts (network) that may be helpful when students seek full-time employment
• Be a more attractive candidate for full-time employment after graduation and probably obtain a higher starting salary than students without co-op experience

Visit our co-op profiles page, to see what some RIT students have done on co-op. Visit the international experiences page, for profiles of students working abroad.

Employers benefit from co-op in a number of ways:
• Co-op students are flexible, highly motivated, technical employees who join the work force at relatively low cost to the employer.
• A student's presence can free up an employee's time for long-range projects.
• A student's abilities and potential for permanent employment can be assessed on the job.
• Student's new ideas and enthusiasm are often professionally stimulating to full-time employees.
• Students serve as the employer's "good will ambassador" to other RIT students and faculty, facilitating recruiting and other relationships.

Frequently Asked Questions

The RIT Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services provides services and resources to assist RIT students in their career success.

What services does the Office of Co-op & Career Services provide to my son/daughter?

We provide programs and resources to all RIT students, to help them through the experiential education and full-time job search process. Our services include one-on-one advising, group orientations and workshops on career & job search topics, a resource library, and extensive job opportunities.

What experiential education options are available?

80% of RIT’s undergraduate majors have mandatory co-op requirements, ranging from 6 to 15 months. Students in programs that don’t require co-op are encouraged to participate in co-op, to gain valuable work experience in their field of interest. Other programs may have a field instruction or internship element handled primarily by the academic department.

How does my son/daughter find a co-op or internship?

Our online database - RIT Job Zone – gives your son/daughter access to co-op, internship, and full-time job postings and on-campus interview opportunities, and allows them to apply online. The system also offers additional resources with contacts and company information, the ability to store and send resumes electronically and e-mail notifications of new jobs that fit their search criteria. We do recommend that students also develop co-op and internship job leads and apply for jobs on their own.

How can I help my son/daughter with their co-op or internship experience?

• Become informed of the services offered by the Office of Co-op & Career Services and the specific co-op requirements for your son/daughter’s academic program. (A list of Co-op Quick Guides can be found on the right -- they include information academic program-specific co-op information.)

• Help your son/daughter develop their own co-ops with employers through a personal contact

• Talk with your son/daughter about their major and career choices. Encourage them to visit the Office of Co-op & Career Services early in their academic program, to become familiar with their Program Coordinator and the services provided by the office.

• Maintain a dialogue with your son/daughter about their co-op and full-time job search; encourage them to begin their job search early, make sure they are attending orientations and workshops, that their resumes are up to date and have been reviewed by our office, that they are registered in and are using RIT Job Zone, that they are attending the RIT Career Fairs and other area career fairs, and are participating in on-campus recruiting.

• Assist your son/daughter with developing and utilizing a professional network. Help them make a list of friends, associates, and relatives to contact for informational interviews, career advice, and job search assistance. Encourage them to join a professional association related to their field of interest.

• Listen to their concerns, and be supportive throughout your son/daughter’s college experience and job search process


How can I help the Office of Cooperative Education & Career Services?

There are a number of ways parents can help the Office of Co-op & Career Services:

• List a co-op, internship, or full-time position with RIT. Our office will be happy to list any opening within your company on our RIT Job Zone system. Contact our office at 585-475-2301, and someone will assist you with this process. Or visit our Employer Portal Page.

• Encourage your company to develop a recruiting relationship with RIT, and to participate in on-campus recruiting and/or our Career Fairs. Put us in touch with your company recruiter or human resources representative; we’ll provide in-depth information on our academic programs and assistance with the recruiting process.

• Become a mentor or advisor to provide career guidance to students.