Co-op

Cooperative Education:
The Perfect Complement to Your Degree

There’s a classic conundrum that recent college graduates have to untangle: Employers want candidates who have work experience. But how do you get experience without a job?

That’s easy. Get a co-op.

Short for cooperative education, co-ops are full-time, paid work experience in your major. RIT’s co-op program is designed to provide you with career exposure–early and often–to a variety of industries and environments. And, with co-op built into most programs, and available and encouraged in all majors, there’s a reason RIT’s outcomes rate is 95%.

A screenshot from a video showing hexagons on the left and text on the right saying: "What is Co-op?"

RIT Co-op: Designed For Your Success

At RIT, our students earn more than a degree. They graduate with real, relevant career experience. And that’s because of RIT’s co-op program.

Our co-op program is one of the oldest and largest in the world. We have built relationships with thousands of companies and organizations in nearly every type of career field. Last year, more than 4,500 students participated in co-op placements with more than 3,400 hiring organizations.

Students alternate co-op blocks with semesters of on-campus study. On co-op, you’ll spend a semester working in industry learning the ins and outs of professional life in your degree field. You’ll have the opportunity to amass hands-on experience working in a variety of settings, from large Fortune 500 companies and industry leaders, to small start-ups and world-class not-for-profits.

During co-op, RIT students are given real-world work responsibilities and are supervised. At the conclusion of a co-op, supervisors complete a co-op work report, which is an evaluation of each student’s co-op performance. Students also complete a work report that details their co-op experience, work responsibilities, and accomplishments. This report is reviewed by the student’s academic department. 

Students are also assigned a co-op advisor. These are career services professionals, each of whom are an expert in a particular career field. Before your co-op, advisors work with you to refine your resume and practice your interviewing skills. During co-op, they check in with you regularly to see how your co-op is progressing and to answer any questions or concerns that arise. After your co-op, advisors connect with your employer and supervisor to have them complete a co-op evaluation that helps rate your co-op performance.

The difference between co-ops and internships is a common question. Both are immeasurable in providing hands-on work experience. In general, co-ops are more significant than your typical internship. Co-ops are full-time employment and range in duration from one semester or one summer term to back-to-back co-op blocks (e.g., summer term plus fall semester; spring semester plus summer term).

Internships can range from a few hours a week to full-time employment, and everything in between. Some may be paid and some may be unpaid, depending on the employer and the career field. While most RIT majors require co-op, a few encourage internships because in some degree fields, internships tend to be more common. While internships may be shorter in duration, they are equally as valuable in providing work experience and professional exposure.

At RIT, students are responsible for identifying and applying to co-op positions. However, RIT has built partnerships with more than 3,400 hiring organizations and we assist in connecting you to thousands of employers who are looking to hire co-op students. Two campus-wide career fairs–one in the fall and one in the spring–welcome hundreds of employers to campus. At these career fairs, employers meet directly with students and conduct hundreds of on-campus interviews. In addition, several programs host specialized career fairs. These smaller, major-specific events present opportunities for one-on-one conversations with employers who are looking to hire co-op students from particular degree programs.

A World Leader in Co-op

We’ve been offering co-op for over 100 years because we value preparedness and practice, and the myriad ways that it benefits all. Co-op experience converts knowledge into know-how, skills into expertise, and thinkers into doers.

It’s the crucial element that makes an RIT education exceptional.

$105M

Total earned annually by RIT students on co-op

4.5K

Students participate in co-op

3.4K

Hiring Organizations

94%

Of co-op employers said they would hire their RIT co-op student for a full-time position

A person running tests on a motherboard

8 Reasons Why Co-op Is the Key to Success


1. High employment outcome
RIT has an overall 95 percent outcomes rate. Students gain experience early and often, apply their learning in meaningful ways, contribute to real-world problems, and build resumes that aren’t the least bit padded.


2. Experience before you graduate
Through your interaction with industry experts, exploration of professional work environments, understanding of perspectives, and application of skills in real world settings, you’ll amass solid, career-focused experience. You are well-positioned for outstanding employment opportunities.


3. Test drive career options
Co-op is a great way to explore different jobs, industries, and types of organizations with no risk, helping you make a more informed decision about the types of jobs and work environments you most enjoy working.


4. Earn a full-time salary
You’ll earn a full-time salary as you gain experience on co-op. This can be used to support your tuition and help offset college expenses, or it can set you up for financial independence after graduation.


5. No co-op fees or tuition
You won’t be charged fees or tuition for co-op, because we believe you should be able to focus on developing your skills, gaining hands-on experience, and exploring your professional future without worrying about extra expenses.


6. Extraordinary employer and alumni partnerships
Industry partnerships provide unmatched opportunities at influential, innovative companies worldwide. And, with 135,000 alumni working around the globe, you’ll benefit from a network of professionals ready to advise and support your career aspirations.


7. Unparalleled support
RIT’s co-op advisors do more than help you identify and apply to co-op positions. They continually check in, provide guidance and support, and are an invaluable resource for all of your professional inquires while you’re on co-op.


8. Develop the “soft skills” that lead to success
RIT can teach you the technical and analytical skills that make you a valuable employee. But the soft skills–leadership, judgment, attitude, self-confidence, etiquette awareness, professionalism–those are the competencies that truly set you apart, and the skills that can only be learned on the job.

RIT’s Outstanding Hiring Partners

We couldn’t possibly list all 3,400 of our hiring partners. It’s a list that keeps on growing.
But here’s a sample of some of the places around the world where you might find yourself working.

Amazon's logo
Apple's logo
EA's logo
Facebook's logo
Fidelity Investments logo
Google's logo
Honda's logo
IBM's logo
Johnson and Johnson's logo
Lockheed Martin's logo
Microsoft's logo
MoMa's logo
SpaceX's logo
Tesla's logo
Disney's logo
RIT students in business attire standing in line to enter the career fair

Students

Learn more about co-op requirements and connect with an advisor who can help you identifying and apply to co-op positions in your major.

The exterior of an L-shaped building with a glass wall on the right and many windows on the left

Employers

Become a hiring partner.

A group of students and parents on a tour of campus

Fall Open House

Prospective students and their families are invited to spend a day on the RIT campus.

Saturday, November 9

Aerial view of Global Village - RIT Campus

Personal Campus Visit

Visit RIT for a tour, personal interview, or attend an info session.

Campus tour walking across campus

Accepted Student Open House

The information you need. The support you want.
March 28 | April 4

Aerial view of Global Village - RIT Campus

Personal Campus Visit

Visit RIT for a tour, personal interview, or attend an info session.