Students get work experience, competitive edge from co-op program.
Making the transition from school to work was easy for industrial engineering major Michael Spencer – because he made it before he earned his degree.
Spencer ’16 was among the first students in the co-op program at the Fred DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science. After working at Black Knight Financial Services in Los Angeles for seven months during his junior year, he was hired as a data analyst at Property Insight, a division of Black Knight, immediately after graduation.
“I’ve been able to hit the ground running and take advantage of opportunities that would not have been available to me if I hadn’t done the co-op,” said Spencer, who now works as an analyst/developer at Oaktree Capital.
Now in its third year, the co-op program offers students the opportunity to gain paid, hands-on experience in a field related to their major before they graduate. As of spring 2018, the program has placed 78 students at firms nationwide.
“More than 80 percent of students who’ve graduated from the program have received job offers from their co-op companies,” said Program Director Philip Coniglio. More than 150 corporate partners participate in the program.
“The co-op gives our students exposure to real-world engineering and computer science work and a competitive edge to kick-start their careers,” Coniglio said.
The co-op is a competitive program open to all undergraduate and graduate students in engineering and computer science. Undergraduates must have a GPA of at least 3.0; graduate students need a GPA of 3.2 or higher.
Students create a professional resume with assistance from Hofstra’s Career Center, and may go through several rounds of interviews before receiving an offer from a co-op partner.
Co-op students are not enrolled in regular classes during their employment, so participating could push back graduation by a semester.
For mechanical engineering major Robert Dwyer ’17, the tradeoff was more than worth it.
“The exposure and experience I gained working in a professional environment was worth taking a semester off from college,” said Dwyer, who scored a full-time job with Lizardos Engineering in Mineola after doing his co-op there.
“Even if you’re unsure about whether or not you want to participate in the co-op program, a lot of experience can be gained just from going through the interview process.”
Students say they also develop soft skills that are necessary to succeed in a professional work environment.
“There are certain skills businesses expect you to know—responding and managing email, working in Excel, setting deadlines, managing projects — that you simply don’t learn in school,” Spencer said. “Working for eight months helped me develop those skills and gave me theopportunity to figure out what it is that I really enjoy doing every day.”
Mechanical engineering major Frank Tricouros ’19 is a co-op student at Oerlikon Metco, a global coating and surface enhancement technology firm with offices in Westbury. Tricouros is currently working on the development of a new pressure-fed feeder.
“We definitely learned a lot of relevant engineering principles in class,” Tricouros said, “but nothing compares to working hands-on and having to adapt and solve real-world problems.”
The payoff is clear for companies. The program provides them with a steady stream of talented young engineers and computer scientists, as well as an opportunity to evaluate a student’s performance and integrate them into the corporate culture over an extended period of time.
“There’s a huge benefit to working with co-op students,” said Christian Bauer, a principal engineer at Oerlikon Metco and Tricouros’ mentor. “When it comes to engineering and testing work, we always need manpower. Co-op students are helpful because they bring what they’ve learned in class to us.”
Mihir Desai ’17 graduated with an MS in computer science and was hired for a co-op position at CCSI (Contemporary Computer Services Inc.), a Long Island-based technology firm. CCSI offered Desai his current job as a web developer three months before graduation.
“The co-op was a wonderful experience for me. I gained a lot of hands-on experience, which helped me secure a full-time job,” Desai said. “Being an international student, the co-op has changed my life here.”
Jay Gersten ’19
BS, Mechanical Engineering
Co-op Experience: National Grid
Michael Spencer ’16
BS, Industrial Engineering
Black Knight, Inc.
Post-graduation: Data Analyst,
Property Insight, a division of Black Knight;
Analyst/Developer, Oaktree Capital
Benjamin Weiss ’17
BS, Computer Engineering
Co-op Experience: Lockheed Martin
Post-graduation: Software Engineer,