NC State engineering student Andressa Hungria loves chocolate so much, she's making a career out of it.
Hungria has spent two semesters and one summer living her dream in Hershey, Pennsylvania, working closely with top-level management, engineers and manufacturing plant operators at the world's most famous chocolate maker, all thanks to the NC State Cooperative Education Program.
One of the largest in the nation, NC State's Co-op program assists about 800 students each year, helping them find work that aligns with their studies and interests. Students can enroll in summer programs or alternate semesters of full-time study and full-time, paid employment. Through on-campus interviews and job fairs, NC State students have the chance to explore more than 600 public or private-sector companies to get a real sense of what the 'real world' has to offer.
Hungria's Co-op experience began online. During her third semester at NC State, a visit to the Hershey website prompted her quest to join the NC State program and over the years, she's gained invaluable experience learning how a company like Hershey is run. Approximately 40 percent of Hershey's current engineers were once Co-ops as well, a testament to how well these programs really work.
For students who invest their time immersed in work future goals and dreams, the benefits truly do extend beyond the classroom.
"When all you can think about while at work is candy," she said, "you can't really complain."