Monday, April 2, 2012

Cooperative Education - First Interviews

When I was a student, Purdue's Cooperative Education program operated a little bit differently from most universities.  Purdue liked to distinguish between Cooperative Education and Summer Internships.  Most students could fit in 3 summer internships during a 4-year degree program.  Therefore, at the time I attended, Purdue's Cooperative Education Certificate required 4 or 5 semesters at the sponsoring company.  They preferred to have 5 semesters, beginning with the first summer after a student's Freshman year.

My first-semester grades were good enough, I was invited to work with my school towards finding a cooperative education position, a co-op.

Why be modest?  My first semester, I made the Dean's List and received Semester Honors.  It didn't feel like a huge accomplishment at the time.  I'll write a post about impostor syndrome within the next two weeks.

When I registered to study Engineering at Purdue, I was initially assigned to the 'school' of Freshman Engineering.  At that time, an engineering student was expected to select their discipline and enroll in that discipline's School of Engineering within their first 3 semesters as an Engineering major.  (This has since changed, Engineering students now select a discipline upfront.  One of my cousins is enrolling at Purdue next fall.  She'll be in the School of Chemical Engineering.  This is one of the reasons for telling my stories now.)  The Cooperative Education program, however, was coordinated through the discipline-specific Schools of Engineering.

At the beginning of my second semester, I enrolled with the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. There might have been a name change while I was a student.  Now it's called ECE.
(Here's why I chose Electrical Engineering.)

At this time, we used a particular format for cooperative education resumes.  So I developed a resume.

Purdue held a sort of career fair day for cooperative education students that spring, where recruiters from MANY companies came to interview students for positions.  I worked with an advisor in the ECE office, selecting aerospace companies to send my co-op resume to.  Some were obvious, like NASA.  Some were not, she suggested several places that I had never heard of before.

The companies reviewed the resumes, and sent back a list of students they wanted to interview.  Then Purdue put together an interview schedule for all the students, and I received this slip of paper (some details removed for privacy).

You can imagine my delight.  It was a step in the right direction, an opportunity to hit the jackpot right out of the gate.  A chance to work in Houston, and not have to live at home again.

I guess my advisor had picked up on my economic situation, because she suggested I could go to Goodwill to get a jacket and skirt.  I already had those for my temping jobs.

As if that wasn't nerve-wracking enough, I carefully used my work-study income to buy tickets to this event:

I don't remember much of the presentation now.  I think I asked him a question afterward.  It was an amazing event.

I didn't get a job.  Not with any of the three interviews, nor with the resumes we sent out later.  I didn't get any offers that semester.

Nor did I find an engineering job for the summer.  (I'm not sure I knew how to look for those.)

When finals were over, Brian went back to his family in Indianapolis, and I went back to my family in South Bend.