This week, faculty members at Onondaga Community College (SUNY OCC) are looking forward to being awarded with Summer 2013 Cooperative Education (Co-op/Internship) Development Fellowships. This brand new SUNY Works Fellowship is intended to help build varied and strong co-op experiences to students at the college through a number of small pilot programs with local business and industry.
The cooperative education (or co-op) approach is a partnership between students, institutions of higher education, and employers that formally integrates a student’s academic program of study with work experience in cooperating employer organizations. This lets students mix classroom theory and practical experience in the workplace by alternating semesters of paid employment with semesters of study. For more on what co-op is and isn’t, read our SUNY Works intro blog post.
The applications received so far from faculty illustrate the varied experiences students can receive while engaged in co-op, as well as the community and industry connections that our SUNY Works campuses are making with our partners. All academic programs at the college were encouraged to apply, and the diversity in proposals was greatly helped by this.
One proposal by a computer studies professor at SUNY OCC seeks to meld the classroom, the workplace and the farm. Students from the web technology program would work with small local farms in Homer, NY to create a web presence for each one. The students would get hands- and minds-on experience, exposure to the locally sourced food movement, and the ability to create a portfolio that will wow potential employers.
Another proposal explores the idea of having students in the environmental technology program at SUNY OCC co-op with local geotechnical and environmental consulting firms as the hydrofracking industry in Central New York looks to grow. This would correspond with the development of new environmental technology courses at the college, ensuring that co-op students would have the relevant STEM skills to help the firms.
An additional Fellowship proposal could help give Journalism students from SUNY OCC access the newsroom of the former Syracuse Post Standard, now known as the Syracuse Media Group after an organizational reformation. As news and content has increasingly shifted to an online presence, the Syracuse Media Group is changing both its physical location and its approach to content. The professor who applied for the fellowship, the coordinator of the journalism minor at SUNY OCC, sees this challenge as a positive. The employer would get bright, hardworking interns from the very audience they are looking to build, the younger digital natives that have grown up with social media and online news. The co-op students would get the experience of working in a fast-paced, rapidly transforming professional setting where they would use their talents and education to take an important role in a company undergoing a rapid transformation.
All of the Fellows will be supported by the Internship Coordinator at Onondaga Community College, and will be expected to pilot a co-op/internship program for at least two students in the Fall 2013 semester. We here with the Generation SUNY team wish the best of luck of to all the applicants and can’t wait to check back in the fall to see where faculty, students, and partners are at in the co-op experience. Be sure to check back next week as we follow up with some of the winners!