Record number of nearly 1,100 students had co-op experiences

By University Communications
October 12, 2017
Roselyn Anderson, an applied social science major, worked in finance at Nestle corporate offices for a UW-Stout co-op experience.

Photo: Roselyn Anderson, an applied social science major, worked in
finance at Nestle corporate offices for a UW-Stout co-op experience.


For more than 800 University of Wisconsin-Stout students, the summer of 2017 was a time to learn — on the job.

A record number of 824 students in the university’s Cooperative Education Program had summer co-ops, leading to a university one-year record of 1,085 co-ops for the 2016-17 academic year.

“My summer was glamorous, learning more than I need to know about men’s socks and underwear, but I would do it all over again. I loved it that much,” said Becca Fredriksen, who interned at Kohl’s corporate offices in Menomonee Falls. She is from Wisconsin Dells, majoring in retail merchandising and management.

Kyle Erickson, a construction major from Waunakee, worked as a project engineer for J.H. Findorff & Son helping build a four-story luxury apartment building in downtown Madison. “This experience was unforgettable, and I made connections that will last a lifetime,” Erickson said.

Roselyn Anderson, an applied social science major from Eagan, Minn., worked at Nestle corporate offices near Cleveland, Ohio, as a finance management trainee. She left with a full-time job offer and will work for the company after she graduates in 2018.

“Nestle is a huge company, and having previous co-op experience allowed me to get my foot in the door,” said Anderson, whose concentration is economics with a business administration minor. “My co-op made me truly appreciate my education here at UW-Stout and reinforced my interest in economics. When I returned, I was eager to learn more so I could apply it further.”

Business administration major Alex Vernon, left, met Culver’s co-founder Craig Culver during his co-op at Culver’s Franchising Systems.The co-op program is a pillar of the university’s mission to prepare students for careers, integrating perfectly with the applied learning philosophy.

The number of students in co-ops has grown steadily, including an increase of 15 percent since 2012. Close to 20,000 students have had co-ops since the program was founded in 1982.

“Students at UW-Stout are career-focused and tend to arrive on campus with career goals in mind. Co-op serves as the catalyst in making their career goals become a reality,” said Bethany Henthorn, Cooperative Education coordinator in the Career Services office.

“I believe the co-op numbers are up across campus for a variety of reasons: polytechnic mission, targeted marketing, strong employer relationship, strong academic partnerships and engagement,” Henthorn added, also citing UW-Stout’s commitment to experiential learning and word-of-mouth advertising by students who have had positive experiences.

Most students, like Anderson, return from co-ops with full-time job offers or improve their odds of landing a job. In a survey of the most recent UW-Stout graduates, 97.4 percent were employed full time or continuing their education within six months.

A co-op experience within the student’s chosen field, coordinated through Career Services and with a faculty adviser, includes academic credit and a competitive wage, differentiating it from many internships.

Richard Shipman, applied science major, spent the summer working in a School of Pharmacy lab at UW-Madison.Richard Shipman, an applied science major with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology, worked in a School of Pharmacy lab at UW-Madison under Professor Lingjun Li. He used mass spectrometry to do research on the stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This co-op gave me the opportunity to experience what it will be like to be a full-time researcher at a large institution. I now know what I want to do and am headed down the right path in life,” said Shipman, of Spooner, who plans to apply for graduate school at UW-Madison.

Benjamin Johnson, an engineering technology major from Minneapolis, had an eight-month co-op with Greenheck Fan in Schofield. “I worked on continuous improvement projects throughout our facility, gaining experience and tons of on-the-job knowledge,” Johnson said.

Alex Vernon, a hotel, restaurant and tourism major from Green Bay, worked in the training department for Culver’s Franchising Systems, including with ButterBurger University, and met company c0-founder Craig Culver.

Cami Dahl, a business administration major from Green Bay, was an administrative intern at Fiduciary Partners Trust in Appleton. She worked on auditing and asset verification for trust accounts.

Co-ops also are available for graduate students. Mohammadali Nagarwala, of India, a master’s in food and nutritional sciences student, also interned at Nestle. “Nestle was a dream company to work in,” he said.

Learn more about the co-op program at the website or review the most recent program report.

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Photos

Middle Photo: Business administration major Alex Vernon, left, met Culver’s co-founder Craig Culver during his co-op at Culver’s Franchising Systems.

Bottom Photo: Richard Shipman, applied science major, spent the summer working in a School of Pharmacy lab at UW-Madison.