Eastman Chemical Company
Prior to her arrival on NC State's campus, director of undergraduate studies Lisa Bullard spent nine years at the Eastman Chemical Company, where she mentored and worked with Co-op students.
"Eastman has a very well-established Co-op program that really tries to give students very significant work assignments," said Bullard, who advises hundreds of NC State students in addition to her teaching duties on campus. "They're not making copies or running errands - they are certainly doing engineering work that a new engineer would do. It's very realistic work experience for them."
Participation in the Co-op program offers employers a chance to hire hard-working students looking to obtain experience related to their degrees and interests, as well as a leg up on recruiting those students for full-time positions upon graduation.
"It gives a company a chance to gain some exposure to a student over a significant period of time, so by the time that student graduates, the company has a very good feel for where the student might best fit into their organization," Bullard said. "They are able to really target where the student is going to be the most effective and find the best fit."
Compared to summer interns, who work for three months or less and usually don't return to the same employer, Co-op students spend three complete work rotations on staff, allowing employers to spend less time in bringing new hires up to speed.
"Summer internships can be good, but a typical summer internship might last 12 weeks at the most," Bullard said. "About the time you've figured everything out, you're done and it's time to leave to go back to school.
"Many employers prefer to hire Co-op students because they get much more value from a student who will be there for three work sessions - or approximately one year total - as opposed to a summer intern who will only be there a few weeks,” she said. "Employers make an investment in Co-op students.
“They don't have to catch these students up on the learning curve to the extent that they would if they had hired a group of new interns."