Last Saturday, 22-year-old Tony Doble of Fremont graduated from BGSU and into a full-time photography job.
But for Doble, a visual communication technology major in the College of Technology, the job waiting for him on Hilton Head Island, S.C., isn't exactly new. His employer, Legacy Design Photographers, already gave him a “test run” back in 2005 when he was a co-op student with the business.
The College of Technology requires its students to complete three full-time, semester-long co-op positions to graduate—the equivalent of a full year of work. The experience is a key to success in the job market as more companies want to “road test” workers before hiring them for full-time positions, says Barry Piersol, director of cooperative education in the college.
Doble has racked up plenty of experience through two co-ops in the Office of Marketing and Communications as well as the one in South Carolina. He also has operated his own photography business, called Unique Photographics, and done freelance photography for the Fremont News-Messenger while an undergraduate student.
According to Piersol, 92 percent of the college's graduates are employed in jobs related to their major, 79.1 percent said they felt the co-op experience assisted them in getting jobs, and 49.5 percent of the graduates are employed by companies in which they previously worked as co-op students.
In 2006, BGSU had 700 co-op placements with 464 employers throughout the nation. The students earned a combined income of $3.8 million.
The employers look to Bowling Green as a supplier, according to Piersol, who says, “They want to hire the best of the best.
“Students learn to be self-reliant, they learn that they are in the right place, or they learn what they don't want to do. By the third co-op experience, they are close to being where they'll be in a full-time job,” Piersol explained.
BGSU's co-op program has been around since 1968 and is considered one of the top 10 of its kind in the nation. One strength of the program is that University faculty visit BGSU students on the job to observe and evaluate their experience. At the same time, the faculty learn about employers' needs, get feedback on the University's course offerings, meet people who could be guest speakers on campus, identify research opportunities and are better able to stay current with what's happening in the field, according to Piersol.
“We're always eager to establish new relationships. We'd like to get more companies involved,” he adds.