100 Years of Cooperative Education
Salvatore Di Schino finished college during the Great Depression, when few companies were hiring. Nicholas Langswager graduated in May, when new graduates were facing similar challenges of finding jobs in their field. But Di Schino and Langswager landed immediate full-time work after graduation—76 years apart—because of RIT’s cooperative education program.
The co-op program, which kicked off in 1912 with 32 students at a dozen local companies, turns 100 years old this academic year. Although it has transformed from providing the local economy with skilled workers to a global initiative, the goal of getting students solid jobs after graduation remains the same.
“The typical co-op student who graduates is far more experienced, far more savvy, far more in tune with what they like and don’t like,” says Manny Contomanolis, associate vice president and director of the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services. “They are more seasoned. They are more capable. That’s what employers want on top of their core skills and abilities.”
Today, more than 3,500 students a year complete 5,500 work assignments with 2,000 companies worldwide. About 60 percent of those students are offered jobs after graduation, Contomanolis says.
Di Schino ’36 (mechanical engineering) started his 41-year career at Eastman Kodak Co. as a co-op student. Langswager ’12 (graphic design) was offered a full-time position in March at Fisher-Price designing toy packages and instruction pamphlets after completing a work assignment.
Profiles of alumni and current co-op students highlight the relevance of the co-op program today.
- A new media marketing major hops into the brewery business.
- The world of retail helps to shape the people skills of a Supreme Court Justice.
- A co-op leads to a job at and an enlistment in the Navy.
- On the second day of her internship, a journalism student finds herself working the Red Carpet at the Golden Globes.
- A photography student finds a permanent job after a co-op at Martha Stewart puts her in the center of the company’s photography department.
- Creating a more sustainable footprint for Wegman’s Food Markets leads to a new career focus for an industrial engineering student.
- Cleanup after the Attica prison uprising leads to an exciting career path for a management and finance major.
- Safety is the first priority for a graduate student focused on finding solutions.
- Playing with toys is just part of the job for this packaging science alum who found employment at Fisher Price.
- An alumna contributes to the safety of sailors and Marines around the world.