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  • Diverse Issues in Higher Education: Co-op Programs Becoming Popular for Real World Experience

    Diverse - 12/04/2013

    Northeastern University, which has one of the oldest co-op programs in the country, is a prime example. From 2006 to 2012, 90 percent of Northeastern grads were in full-time jobs or graduate school within nine months of commencement. Eighty-seven percent of graduates who were working had jobs related to their major. Of those, half had received a job offer from an employer where they worked as co-op students.

    “Co-op, we continue to hear, is a big draw,” says Kara Shemin, media relations manager at Northeastern. “I think the word ‘jobs’ and knowing the job market is tough is a draw. It’s also the experience. Kids are going to be better prepared for the workforce because of their time on co-op.”

    Cameroon native drawn to co-op

    Henry Nsang left Cameroon in West Africa to attend the University of Massachusetts Boston, taking foundation courses for an engineering degree. Then he learned that the school does not have a complete engineering program and that most students in his situation transfer to other campuses in the state university system.

    Instead, Nsang transferred after a year and a half across town to Northeastern.

    “I chose Northeastern because I was really interested in the co-op program,” says Nsang. “I’m a very hands-on type of person, so I wanted to get that experience before graduating — just to make sure it was what I wanted to do.”

    He continues, “I wanted to make sure that the decisions that I make are the right decisions and the investment I’m making is going to pay off, maybe not immediately, but definitely down the road.”

    They did. After graduating in 2010, Nsang’s six-month experience on co-op as a junior engineer in New York helped him land a similar position in Cameroon. He returned to Northeastern for graduate school the next year, earning a master’s degree in environmental engineering in May. Since September, he has worked as a project engineer for a Boston construction company.

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