Written by Rick Robinson
The Georgia Tech Division of Professional Practice (DoPP) is home to Georgia Tech’s popular undergraduate Cooperative Education (Co-op) Program, founded in 1912. It also administers the Graduate Co-op Program, the Georgia Tech Internship Program (GTIP) and the Work Abroad Program.
“We’re the office that helps develop future leaders for Georgia employers,” said Debbie Gulick, DoPP interim executive director and director of the Work Abroad Program. “Our office gives students a chance to learn by doing, and it’s a doorway for employers who are looking for solutions to their recruiting needs.”
During the 2009-2010 school year, more than 6,500 Georgia Tech students were registered in the division’s database, Gulick said. These students sought assistance in finding internships and co-op jobs, as well as resume advice and more. Through all four DoPP programs, students participated in 2,969 work terms outside the classroom.
The undergraduate co-op program, the largest of the four, sent students on 1,393 work terms within the United States – 80 percent in Georgia. During the 2009-10 school year, these students’ average hourly wage of $16.50 amounted to $20 million annually, most of which stayed in the state.
Georgia Tech has the largest voluntary co-op program among tier-one universities in the United States, said Harold Simmons, director of the undergraduate co-op program. It is also the largest U.S. co-op program for engineering students.
“In our undergraduate co-op program, students alternate semesters of on-campus study with at least three semesters at work,” Simmons explained. “By contrast, an internship is usually a one-time arrangement for a fixed period of time, but students may work multiple internships with one or more employers.”
DoPP’s programs offer important benefits to both students and employers, he said.
The availability of co-op opportunities and internships attracts to Georgia Tech many students who want both the income and the work experience, he said. It gives employers a chance to identify and train the people they want to hire at graduation.
“This is a chance for employers to grow their own people,” Simmons said. “And the state benefits because that hiring helps keep highly skilled workers right here in Georgia.”
This article is part of a special feature, “Serving Georgia,” in the Fall 2010 issue of Research Horizons magazine.