Classroom education is vital. Lab experiences are important. But when it comes to preparing for a successful career, nothing beats full-time work in your field of choice. That’s why more and more Hofstra students are getting down to business through the DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Co-op Program.
“When you are part of a team, working side-by-side with experienced professionals to solve real-world challenges that can affect an organization’s reputation and bottom line, everything you’ve learned is put to the test,” said Natalie Sequeira, who will earn her MS in Computer Science in 2020, having recently completed her six-month co-op job at multinational construction management firm, Structure Tone. “It can be stressful, but it’s exhilarating, too.”
Co-op education differs from an internship in several ways. Internships are generally part-time positions that students work while still taking classes, or full-time during the summer.
Students in co-op posts dedicate themselves solely to working at their host companies for six to eight months and are paid accordingly. This total immersion experience lets the student fully participate in an organization’s mission and helps them decide if that field is ultimately the right fit. According to co-op founding director, Philip Coniglio, the DeMatteis Co-op program has proven to be a winner for both students and their sponsoring employers.
“Since we began this program in 2015, we’ve placed more than 120 students and we currently have close to 200 corporate partners,” said Coniglio. “Our students have worked in an incredibly broad variety of posts…from Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman and National Grid, to Structure Tone, Skanska and even the CIA. Along the way, they’ve learned far more about working their chosen field, and about themselves, than most of their peers. There is no doubt that these students become more highly-prized employment prospects after graduation.”
The DeMatteis Co-op program is also working hard to build new bridges to fields where new employment opportunities are exploding, including, most recently, cybersecurity.
“Cybersecurity is a field that is experiencing incredible growth and is only expected to keep increasing in importance,” said Coniglio. “We believe that participation in the co-op program dovetails perfectly with Hofstra’s expanded cybersecurity degree programs and our newly launched new Cybersecurity Innovation and Research Center.”
Perhaps the surest sign of the success of the DeMatteis Co-op program lies in the high satisfaction reports of its students, and the fact that, according to Coniglio, 80 percent of students tracked by the program have been offered full-time, permanent positions by their sponsoring organizations.
“The co-op experience really showed me I was on the right track, career-wise,” said Sequeira, who is now working part time at Structure Tone while she completes her coursework. “And as I was given increasingly challenging tasks and roles as part of the team at Structure Tone, it gave them a good look at what I could contribute as an employee. I don’t think any other educational program could give you a better leg up than that.”